Hello! Can anyone suggest a good heavy fry pan for blackening fish? I've done a little research and came across Matfer steel pans...any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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I've got a couple of Matfer steel pans. They're great, and they would work perfectly for blackening fish. Having said that, phatch is correct, cast iron is even better, and the traditional choice. The advantage of steel is that it's a bit lighter and easier to move around. The advantage of cast iron is that it retains the heat even more than steel.
I have to agree with the rest, I have always used Cast Iron for Blackening Fish, Prime Rib, Steaks and so on, in '86 or '87, I was blackening anything and everything I could lay my hands on. I was Chef at the Great American Lobster Bar in Vail at the time. Blackened Red Snapper had just become the craze, but I was doing Salmon, Trout, Catfish, well like I said, just about everything I could lay my hands on including beef, chicken and pork. I just left the pan set on a burner and kept it hot. (DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME IN YOUR KITCHEN, MOVE IT OUTSIDE AND USE A GAS BURNER). The blackening comes from the butter charring in the pan, not from the spices. When the butter chars the instant it lands in the pan, it creates a sealing crust on the fish that keeps it from drying out. It only takes 2-3 minutes per side to blacken fish that is about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.
You need a cast iron skillet, nothing else will do. I am rather miffed though, I moved back to Colorado about 8 years ago and got back into cooking about 5 years ago and the Colorado Health Department does not allow the use of cast iron any more unless used as a cooking surface which can include use in the service of food when used in an uninterrupted process from cooking through service, according to the reg's. I take that to mean that the only way to use it is to send a screaming hot cast iron pan out to the customer, which would 1) be a huge liability, and 2) way over cook the fish/meat.
I ordered Blackened Fish at a restaurant about 7 years ago and I got something that was attempted either on a flat griddle or a steel pan and swore off Blackened Fish in a restaurant and then I found out why they did it that way. Greatly disappointed in Colorado for that restriction.