Ever try cooking in a stainless steel pot or pan? If you have, there's a good chance you've had your food get stuck to the surface, ruining your meal — and your will to cook. Someone likely invented nonstick pans for this very reason.
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But what if we told you you've actually been using stainless steel cookware wrong this whole time?
Yep, that's right. Thanks to a viral video on TikTok, we've just learned that there's actually a really simple way to prevent your food from sticking to the pan — and it's not using more oil.
As TikTok user @sincerelylegenia explains, stainless steel is actually porous on a microscopic level. When it heats up, it expands and closes those pores. If your pan isn't hot enough, your food will get trapped in those pores and therefore get stuck to the surface.
They go on to show how you can test your pan's temperature to make sure it's at the right point to add your food. After your pan has been heating over the stove for a while, pour a little water into it. If the water froths up and shoots out little droplets all over the place, the pan is still too cool. Wait a little longer, then try the test again.
You'll know the pan is hot enough when it forms a "mercury ball," according to @sincerelylegenia. That ball will move around the pan in a relatively cohesive unit, which indicates that your pan is hot enough to cook your food.
There's one caveat we should note. Regardless of how smooth the surface is, raw meat may still stick to the pan due to the high protein content. To prevent this, you need to make sure the meat cooks just a little before coming into contact with the pan. The key is hot oil, which acts as a barrier between the meat and the pan, and cooks the meat ever so slightly before it touches the surface. Cooked protein won't stick to the metal.
Anyway, that's just another argument as to why you should make sure your pan heats up fully before you get cooking.