- I’ve been cooking fish in cast iron pans and steel woks for years, but I’ve always struggled to keep heat even and get a perfect crispy skin.
- All-Clad sent over their d3 Armor 12-Inch Stainless Steel Oval Frying Pan for me to try.
- My roommates have used and abused it beyond any point of recognition at times, but it still lives, and my fish is coming out more consistently (and crispier) than ever.
I, like many home cooks with little kitchen space, usually stick to just a couple of pans. I have a thin steel one for cooking things like eggs and crèpes that require quick heat adjustments, and then, like every good American, my cast irons are my workhorses for just about everything else.
But All-Clad sent over their d3 Armor Oval Fish Pan over last fall, and it has ingratiated its way into my home for several reasons, not least of which being its endurance in a hectic household, ability to heat and cool just quickly enough, and useful oval shape.
The All-Clad fish pan on the stove
The surface of the pan is punctuated by a series of pronounced polka dots that keep fish, or whatever you’re cooking, slightly elevated so that it allows oil, butter, or any other liquids to pass through, rather than become trapped and create a soggy, grease-soaked mess of your dinner.
All-Clad’s d3 Fish Pan offers just the right thickness for a level of conduction somewhere between an ultra-thin crèpe pan that heats and cools quickly and a hardy cast iron that can take seemingly forever to cool down. When cooking something like a whole fish, which takes time and delicately measured heat adjustments, a crepe pan is nearly impossible to control, and cast iron will do the trick easily enough, but get it too hot and you’re doomed. There’s nothing worse than disgracing fresh fish. Nothing.
Specs and versatility
All-Clad’s "d3" line is a three-ply formula. There’s 18/10 stainless steel on top, with the little polka-dot-like bumps for even heat release, aluminum at the core, which keeps the center good and hot, and an induction stainless steel that gets the heat going from below.
All in all, this is a great step up for all you non-stick surface lovers looking to graduate from that Teflon and Teflon-like crap that just peels away after a couple of years and ultimately starts to end up in your food. If you’d like to know what I mean, I welcome you to a tour of my father’s kitchen. (Sorry, dear old Dad, but it’s for your own good.)
The shape of the pan, again, is suited to panfish and panfish-esque species like snapper and perch, but you can also, of course, achieve a perfect steak, scallop, or prawn dish within it, too.
And, despite one review on Bed Bath & Beyond, which suggests that the pan failed in an oven, I’ve broiled in it at 450 degrees Fahrenheit plenty of times without any sign of wear or damage, and my roommate has baked in it several times. This pan is good for it all, unless you need more surface area; then you might look elsewhere within the d3 or (d5) line. I’ll also add that the elongated handle makes (and suggests that) it’s designed for easy oven handling.
Cleaning and caring for the pan
For one of the few times in my life (and ironically at the ripe old age of 31), I’m living with roommates. Let me preface this by first saying that I love my roommates. I really do. And one of them is such a wizard with dough that I don’t dare purchase pizza unless he’s out of town.
But on occasion, I’ll return home after a long day in these here above-ground mines only to find a beloved pan utterly devastated. How could this have possibly happened? I’ll ask myself. Charred and dejected, looking forlorn as a latchkey kid and with no one in sight, there lies my pan. RIP, I’d think. But guess again. This cat has nine lives.
Not that it’s not a bit of a project to restore: As with anything stainless steel, that green Brillo sponge is to go nowhere near this pan. You MUST use only non-abrasive cleaning tools and products on the 18/10 stainless steel that coats this ban (same goes for knives). So soaking is really your best option. But time and again, old glory riseth from the ashes.
The bottom line
If you cook a lot of fish, either filleted or whole, this pan will make the task much more fool-proof, especially if you’re having trouble regulating heat or end up with a mushy, greasy mess on occasion. It’s all too easy to slip up, and, well, let’s end with that old refrain, my personal mantra, for good measure: There is nothing worse than disgracing fresh fish.
Pros: Perfectly shaped for most whole panfish, great for fillets, steak, and shellfish on the stove, in the oven, or under the broiler
Cons: Yes, it’s a bit pricey, and that I haven’t yet found a grease splatter screen to properly cover it.
Also available for in-store pickup only from Williams Sonoma.
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