American Test Kitchen: Perfect Technique for Pan Seared Salmon

The highlight (for me) is the decision to use a cold pan:

“…added the fish to a cold pan and then turned on the heat? This would allow the fish to cook through gently as the pan slowly came up to temperature. I’d then flip the fillets over after the skillet was good and hot so they could form a crust and finish cooking through”

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I’m waiting for brined marshmallows. :wink:


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I heard the ATK podcast a couple of days ago. The reason they gave for starting with a cold pan is to render the fat between the skin and the flesh; then the fish cooks in the fat. They made a point of saying this technique works best in a non-stick pan. But if you’re using a non-stick pan, you can also start with a heated pan using a more traditional pan-searing method.

We heard the same (similar) thing then. I was listening to a NPR broadcast.

Sometimes they’ve also baked batters/doughs with a cold oven start. The idea is that there’s more time for rising before the top crusts over, limiting the height of the rise.

Kind of OT, but I’ve seen (Pepin?) chicken pieces sauteed starting with the flesh side down. The reasoning was that by the time the skin side is turned onto the pan surface, it has warmed up, and the pan is thoroughly hot. This maximizes browning/crispness, as does serving as soon as the skin is finished cooking, as opposed to exposing the skin to steam, sitting there as the underside cooks, if you’ve done the skin side first.

Also, Pepin has a fish fillet recipe where you score the skin side, rub with oil/seasoning, then bake at high heat, skin up the whole time. The flesh cooks through without turning, and the skin is crisply delicious.

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Making noodles. Phongdien Town, Cantho City, Southern Vietnam.
Credit: CiaoHo