CT 004| How To Pan Roast Fish

Pan roasting at the simplest level is starting a food product in a hot pan on the stove-top and then finishing in the oven. In this video, we pan roast a piece of halibut to give it a great crust and a succulent texture. The number one key to this technique is to never peak at your crust side and trust your judgment.

Although halibut is used in this video, any thick fillet of fish can be pan roasted in the exact same fashion including salmon, sea bass and larger pieces of cod.

Related Resources

Site Categories
Video Index: 
Featured Techniques: 

There are 17 Comments

jacob burton's picture

I don't see why a cast iron pan wouldn't work. Your timing would be a little different because they retain heat better. Once you get used to it, it shouldn't be an issue. Keep in mind though that the size of the pan needs to be appropriate to the piece of fish you're roasting as discussed in the video.

For what it's worth, the pan used in this video is made by Update. I was able to pick a bunch up at my local restaurant supply store on sale for $12 a pop. They great pans.

pm_odonnell's picture

Jacob I did see all your pans at your place.  I have a few at my place and want to get a bigger collection as time goes on.  Do you think I should just go a local restaurant supply store and get some like you did or go with something like All Clad or Scan Pan.  

Mastayoou's picture

How much seasoning do you add to this?? Little bit less because of the brining process??

How long is too long for brining?? Can u brine for longer to season less?

jacob burton's picture

@ Mastayoou,

If I brine the fish first (which is almost always) I don't add any seasoning during the cooking process. All of the seasoning is coming from my brine. I've brined fish for up to 24 hours and haven't really noticed a difference in flavor. As long as you let it sit in a 5% brine for at least 2 hours, you're good to go.

Since the brine seasons the fish from the inside out, the flavors are much more balanced instead of just having a salt crust on the exterior. I also find that it gives me a better crust when I sear and releases from the pan much easier once the pan roasting process is completed.

Mastayoou's picture

Thanks for the info. Makes sense

Also. If I didn't have clarified butter on hand could I just use straight butter and canola???

I suppose I could just use canola. But I prob would nit get the nice browning??

jacob burton's picture

Regular canola oil will work just fine. You'll get slightly better results with the 50/50 mix but it isn't completely necessary. Whole butter will brown and burn too quickly, which is why you only want to use it in its clarified state for high heat cooking methods like pan roasting.

GreenBake's picture

I've read that the smoke point of Light Olive Oil is 468 degrees F. Is there something about Olive Oil that makes it a poor substitute for Canola Oil? The smoke point sounds good, but I remember that it doesn't work so well in baking, so I'm thinking there's something else that may make it a poor substitute for Canola Oil.

jacob burton's picture

The reason why you always hear me talk about canola oil is because I can buy it in 5 gallon containers for the restaurant, it's reasonably priced, has a high smoke point and a neutral flavor.

The darker the olive oil, the more dissolved particulate matter. This means more flavor, but also a lower smoke point. So with that said, something like light olive oil would work great as a substitution for canola oil in a high heat cooking process. Just taste it first to make sure it has a somewhat neutral flavor.

As far as baking is concerned I'm pretty sure that's application specific. Obviously you wouldn't want to use it in pie crust instead of butter, but that could be said of all oils. Also, when you add olive oil to something like focaccia, you actually add it for its flavor. I would have to see it in context to understand why they don't recommend light olive oil for baking.

PamperedNonChef's picture

I read Tom Colicchio's book Think Like a Chef a while back and he uses peanut oil as his high-smoke, neutral flavor oil for many of his dishes.  Do you not use that due to the potential peanut allergy issue, or is cost also a factor?


debs20's picture

I'm not sure what 5% brine is.

GreenBake's picture

I believe that is 5 percent salt by weight.. 5 grams salt for every 100 grams of water.. Technically it would be 5 grams salt for every 100 grams of total solution weight (5 grams salt, 95 grams water). I doubt the difference matters.

jacob burton's picture

@ debs20,

Take the total weight of your water and multiply by .05 (5%). Add this amount of salt to your water and you'll have a 5% brine. For example, if you had a 100g water, your calculation would look like this:

100g x 0.05 = 5g of salt

5g salt + 100g water = 5% Brine.

jacob burton's picture

@ Patrick,

The pans that I have at Stella are Update. They're the same pans I use in the video and for the price I absolutely love them. They're usually only available in Restaurant Supply stores but very reasonably priced. A small one will cost you about $15 and a large pan about $30-$40 (sometimes cheaper if you can find them on sale).

There's nothing wrong with All Clad, they're great pans, I just think that Updates work just as good for a fraction of the price.

pm_odonnell's picture

Then what should I be looking for in pots and pans.  Obviously All Clad is great but you are right they are very expensive.  I know you get what you pay for but how can Update make a product that is reasonably high in quality at that low of a price.  I'm all for getting a great deal but all to often you get what you pay for. 

jacob burton's picture

I've had these particular pans for about a year now and we use them more on a nightly basis then you probably will in 6 months. They're definitely durable. Look for a pan with a thick bottom that's made of stainless steel and you'll be in good shape.

Chris Klindt's picture

I agree that Update International is fine cookware. I have 2 of the Update International kettles, a 60 quart and a 100 quart. Both kettles are built really good with clad bottoms.The stainless steel lids fit nice and tight.

Before someone asks about using the size kettles referenced, on a kitchen range, I would say no. A standard kitchen stove top does not deliver enough BTUs for this size. I use a propane burner to drive the kettles.