How Do You Flame Something In A Pan?

Jul 17, 2013 12:31 pm

"Light the pan on fire..." and then what? And why?

how to flame something in a pan
Photo: jjeff on Flickr
You can guarantee there's more than a shot of high-proof booze in this pan.
 

You see it on TV all the time, so it must be easy: chef pours booze in a pan full of something, tips it slightly and it explodes into what appears to be a controlled flame. Next shot, something awesome and flash-caramelized sliding out of the pan onto a plate. You can do it too, right? Right? Guys?

Here's what you can do the first time you try this feat of culinary prowess:

  • Soak something perfectly good in rum and find yourself unable to ignite it because it's not high-proof enough.
  • Spill high-proof rum all over your stove trying to tip the pan into the flame enough to ignite it.
  • Ignite your entire stove, in which case you'll need this information.

So here's what you actually do: add a shot — ONE SHOT — of high-proof rum or other liquor (we filmed Chinese bai jiu doing the trick nicely), add your flame manually (only experienced chefs are allowed to ignite using a dexterous tip into the stove's flame) and let it burn out by itself, shaking gently to keep the fire both inside the pan and not so hardcore that you burn whatever fancy dish needed to be flamed. Although the Bananas Foster at Commander's Palace isn't so fancy, just damn good.  

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