Whether it's a fried egg for breakfast or seared steak for dinner, food has the annoying tendency to stick to the pan. Avoiding this all-too-common frustration, however, is actually quite simple (and it doesn't involve relying on a nonstick pan).
Though it may seem counterintuitive, making sure the pan is hot enough is the key to keeping your food from sticking.
As Science of Cooking explains, high heat creates a "steam effect" when food is added to a pan. The heat instantly causes food to release water, and the steam that results from the heated water keeps the food from sticking. The steam actually raises the food above the oil so that it won't bind to the pan. The sizzling sound indicates that steam is forming.
Other ways to ensure food doesn't stick include using a clean pan and making sure the surface of your food is dry.
To tell if your pan is hot enough, drop a little water onto it. If the droplet sizzles and glides across the surface, your pan is ready. Depending on what you're cooking, you can also try dragging a little piece of food across the pan to see if it takes hold or slides easily.
The moral of the story is don't shy away from high heat. While the natural inclination would be to turn the heat down when food starts to stick, that won't solve the problem. You've got to turn it up.
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