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Old 05-09-2009, 03:00 AM   #1
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Cooking salmon on stainless steel blackens entire pan surface

Hi everyone,

This has happened all 2-3 times that I tried to cook a fillet of salmon on a stainless steel pan: When the oil on the pan was about ready, I placed the salmon in the pan and within a few minutes some sort of reaction occurs between the salmon and the pan, causing the entire surface of the pan to blacken.

This seems incredibly peculiar to me. Is this a chemical reaction?--much like how I've read that you can't cook acidic foods on cast iron?

Should I not cook salmon on stainless steel cookware or am I simply doing something wrong?

Thank you for you help.

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Old 05-09-2009, 06:42 AM   #2
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Sorry about your problem When you say "entire surface of the pan blackens" do you actually mean the entire surface, or just that portion that the Salmon comes into contact with??? Also would you mind sharing the brand SS pan you have, along with the type of oil, and amount you are using??? Oh... I forgot... are you using a pan spray product, and at what temperature (Hot, medium etc) are you cooking?
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Old 05-09-2009, 08:29 AM   #3
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I would guess it's some sort of chemical reaction. I'ver never had the problem.

In addition to the questions Uncle Bob asked, tell us what you used for a marinade.
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Old 05-09-2009, 12:38 PM   #4
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Sounds like excessive heat to me.

What sort of oil are you using?

Does the pan clean up ok? Have you tried Barkeeper's Friend on it? Best stainless cleaner available.
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Old 05-09-2009, 04:00 PM   #5
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Thank you for your replies.

Uncle Bob, yes, the entire surface of the pan gradually blackens as it cooks, not just the surface the salmon touches. I used a moderate amount of Zoe extra virgin olive oil on the pan, enough to surround the bottom of the salmon fillet. The pan brand is Revere Ware, with what looks like a copper bottom. I cooked around medium heat.

Andy M., I don't believe I used any marinade. Just olive, salt, pepper. Maybe some onions.

Scotch, the cleaning was the worst part. It took many hours each time to clean up the blackened surface. I tried Soft Scrub and Ajax on some sort of sponge that has a slightly roughened surface on one side. I learned about Barkeeper's Friend just this week so I'll be getting it next time I'm at the market. I see many variations of their product on their site though. Should I simply be getting Bar Keepers Friend or their more specialized one called Bar Keepers Friend Cookware Cleaner?

I don't recall if this was a skinless salmon or not--does that make a difference?

Enjoy your weekend everyone.
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Old 05-09-2009, 05:14 PM   #6
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Was this a new pan, and if so, did you wash it thoroughly before using? I'm thinking it may have had some sort of protective coating on it, especially considering how much difficulty you had cleaning it.

Next time you have a stainless pan with such a problem, try putting about a inch of a 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar in the bottom, bring it to a boil, and let it simmer for about 30 minutes, making sure the liquid doesn't boil away. If the stuff is still difficult to remove, let the pan sit with the vinegar mixture in it for a few hours, maybe over night. That will generally loosen anything stuck to the pan.
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Old 05-09-2009, 05:51 PM   #7
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Scotch,

It wasn't a new pan--very old in fact. It's my parents, which they seemingly never use. It looked like it was in new condition but I washed it thoroughly before using nonetheless. I do not have this problem of the blackening effect with any other non-protein foods I've tried on it, but because of the problem with the salmon I haven't tried any other protein on it either.

Thanks for the vinegar/water tip.
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Old 05-09-2009, 07:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lovedovey
It wasn't a new pan--very old in fact. It's my parents, which they seemingly never use.
I believe I am familiar with the pan...Revere Ware Stainless/Copper Bottom...I have three of them I use at times...These pans are not Tri-Ply SS...They are somewhat thin...EVOO has a low smoke point...It will burn easily....Here's what may be happening....

As the fish cooks some of the oil is gradually absorbed, and a thin coat in the pan will gradually burn off...At this point the pan will begin to blacken, and continue to blacken until it is removed from the heat...In short the blackening is caused by burned on EVOO....

To prevent this...Use more oil....Maintain some level of oil in the pan during the entire cooking process...Use a oil with a higher smoke point (Canola, Peanut etc.) Using a lower heat setting will help too...To clean...soak in Dawn Dish Washing Liquid/Vinegar Solution etc....Aggressively scrub with a Brillo Pad! HTH
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Old 05-11-2009, 03:05 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Bob View Post
I believe I am familiar with the pan...Revere Ware Stainless/Copper Bottom...I have three of them I use at times...These pans are not Tri-Ply SS
Is Tri-ply better than the copper bottom Revere Ware ones?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Bob View Post
To prevent this...Use more oil....Maintain some level of oil in the pan during the entire cooking process...Use a oil with a higher smoke point (Canola, Peanut etc.) Using a lower heat setting will help too...To clean...soak in Dawn Dish Washing Liquid/Vinegar Solution etc....Aggressively scrub with a Brillo Pad! HTH
Thank you for all those tips. I'll put em all to use the next time I use the pan. Quick question about your suggestion of using other oils with higher smoke points: do you generally use olive oil for pan-oriented cooking? I'm very new to cooking so I don't know if my following logic is proper: I generally use olive oil with pan-oriented cooking, especially sauteing, which is mostly what I do so far; meanwhile, with higher temp cooking, such as the oven, broiler, or frying, I'll use canola, extra light olive oil, etc.
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Old 05-11-2009, 06:34 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loveydovey
Is Tri-ply better than the copper bottom Revere Ware ones?
IMO Yes! Why? Three layers of metal vs two. Better heat retention and distribution --- Heavier, and better constructed. --- The handles on the top brands of try-ply are riveted all the way through the pan as opposed to just a partial type of rivet on the Revere Ware. The handles on the Revere Ware will break off...I have two sauce pans that did just that. Please don't misunderstand..I am not trashing Revere Ware...I have remnants of three sets of this cookware from the 1940-1960 Era that were passed down to me. I frequently use some of the sauce pans...I would guess that many members here once owned Revere Ware Cookware...some probably still do. It was a very popular line of cookware....It was a popular gift item at Christmas, birthdays, and given to newly weds in the early years of the company. There are people that collect the (earlier made) line today...So the pieces you have....treasure (and enjoy) them for what they are, and the fact they belonged to your parents! ----- I do!!

You may find THIS interesting to read, and HERE
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Old 05-11-2009, 07:25 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loveydovey View Post
Quick question about your suggestion of using other oils with higher smoke points: do you generally use olive oil for pan-oriented cooking? I'm very new to cooking so I don't know if my following logic is proper: I generally use olive oil with pan-oriented cooking, especially sauteing, which is mostly what I do so far; meanwhile, with higher temp cooking, such as the oven, broiler, or frying, I'll use canola, extra light olive oil, etc.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a relatively low smoke point which means it burns at lower temperatures than other oils. Canola and regular olive oil (not extra virgin) will have higher smoke points so they can be used with higher heat applications. That does not mean that you can not use extra virgin in those cases, but you need to be more careful.

Sauteing is actually a higher heat cooking method then frying generally. When sauteing you want your heat very high. Frying is generally done at around 350-375ish. You can fry in EVOO, but most people don't because that is kind of an expensive way to go.

I use EVOO for just about all my cooking needs, but I watch the heat very carefully to make sure it never gets hot enough to burn.
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Old 05-11-2009, 07:43 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loveydovey
Quick question about your suggestion of using other oils with higher smoke points: do you generally use olive oil for pan-oriented cooking?
If we are talking about Extra Virgin Oil....As a general rule I would say No...due to it’s low smoke point...The point at which the oil will begin to smoke and burn...However, it can be used if you watch the temperature closely...For pan oriented (high heat) cooking I usually reach for Canola, Peanut, Corn, or Safflower, and on occasion Soybean as they have higher smoke points...
HERE is some general information on different oils and their uses......HTH


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Old 05-11-2009, 11:26 AM   #13
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I used to have some copper thick bottom stainless pans. They look nice but are really useless. I remember cooking some halibut in mine the first time I used it and had the same problem. Then I worked at a restaurant a while later that had the same pans and they told me to shallow fry everything or else the pans are useless.
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Old 05-11-2009, 12:15 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by appleyard14 View Post
I used to have some copper thick bottom stainless pans. They look nice but are really useless. I remember cooking some halibut in mine the first time I used it and had the same problem. Then I worked at a restaurant a while later that had the same pans and they told me to shallow fry everything or else the pans are useless.
What's "shallow fry"?
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Old 05-11-2009, 12:17 PM   #15
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deep frying in a pan.
about a half inch of oil high and bringing it to temperature. It was pretty stupid because they could have then just deep fried instead of using a bunch of oil in the pan everytime wasting money. But it wasnt my restaurant to say so I did what I was told.
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Old 05-11-2009, 01:15 PM   #16
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I have my mom's old Revere ware, and the only times I have had a problem with it "turning colors" is if I have the heat too high AND leave the food item in too long.

Stainless steel should have no reaction to the food cooked in it. If it's turning black, your heat is too high.
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Old 05-11-2009, 01:39 PM   #17
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I have my mom's old Revere ware, and the only times I have had a problem with it "turning colors" is if I have the heat too high AND leave the food item in too long.

Stainless steel should have no reaction to the food cooked in it. If it's turning black, your heat is too high.
Which is what I said several posts ago. Contrary to what most people apparently think, you don't need maximum heat to pan broil or fry successfully.
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Old 05-15-2009, 02:24 AM   #18
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Uncle Bob, thank you for your explanation and link on Tri-ply.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Bob View Post
For pan oriented (high heat) cooking I usually reach for Canola, Peanut, Corn, or Safflower, and on occasion Soybean as they have higher smoke points...
How come soybean oil only "on occassion"? Thanks for the link on the uses of all types of oils. Very useful and bookmarked for posterity.
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Old 05-15-2009, 02:49 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by GB View Post
Sauteing is actually a higher heat cooking method then frying generally. When sauteing you want your heat very high. Frying is generally done at around 350-375ish. You can fry in EVOO, but most people don't because that is kind of an expensive way to go.
Oh! That's very interesting. Going only by appearance, the bubbling oil in the frying process just appears to be hotter--or just more menacing. What's a way to gage if your sauteing heat is higher than frying temperature? (would placing the stove knob on medium be a way to roughly ensure your saute temp is lower than frying temp?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by GB View Post
I use EVOO for just about all my cooking needs, but I watch the heat very carefully to make sure it never gets hot enough to burn.
I use EVOO too, usually, for most my cooking needs but it's mostly the influence of what I see on cooking shows. I have little culinary rational of why I should use it. However, since, at least to me, the flavor of olive oil is really only present when used in salads/breads/etc (situations where EVOO is added after the cooking process), what is your reason for using EVOO as your primary cooking oil?

And thank you to everyone else who's also replied. You've been very helpful.
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Old 05-15-2009, 06:52 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Loveydovey View Post
Uncle Bob, thank you for your explanation and link on Tri-ply.

How come soybean oil only "on occassion"? Thanks for the link on the uses of all types of oils. Very useful and bookmarked for posterity.
The short answer is I only buy it on occasion... I'm just not in the habit of buying it on a regular basis......Which when you think about it doesn't make much sense...The oil is an excellent all purpose oil...Suited for many uses...has a high smoke point etc....and comparatively... it is a very inexpensive oil here...$20 for 3 gallons!

You're welcome for the links!!

Enjoy!!
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