Sorry if this has been discussed and debated so many times before. I've done searching on the Internet as well as on this forum to see if I can get enough answers but they always seem to address a slightly different point of view than what I'm trying to get at.
I'm a bit new to cast-iron and every time I try to cook with it, to sear meat I understand that you need it to be quite hot. I see smoke coming off the pan which I'm reading on the Internet is also normal.
This is the part I am not sure about. When you see smoke coming off the pan, doesn't that mean that the oil has gone beyond the smoke point and is now releasing free radicals? Wouldn't that be quite harmful?
Sometimes I get the pan hot enough, then I put in extra light olive oil and it starts to smoke. Sometimes it does not smoke, and I put in the meat. But through the eight minute cooking process of the meat, it starts to smoke in areas of the pan that the meat is not touching.
Does it mean that free radicals are being released into my food and it's very harmful to eat?
When I try to cook with lower temperatures, I don't get the nice steering anymore.
Its difficult to tell what temperature my pan is at. I know about the dancing water test but sometimes the water vaporizes immediately. Other times it boils. I'm guessing vaporizing is too hot while boiling is too cold?
The above are experiences when I use a gas stove. Could I solve my problem with induction cooking where I set the induction cooker to a specific temperature lower than the smoke point of the oil I am using, and be able to cook with peace of mind that the oil will not reach its smoke point? In other words, if the induction cooker is set to a specific temperature, can the pan be heated up beyond that temperature if it sits on the induction cooker long enough? I have seen my cast-iron give off smoke when I set the induction cooker to a temperature that is not yet at the smoke point of extra light olive oil and it also confuses me. Why is there smoke when I haven't reached the smoke point of the oil I am using? I'm not sure.
Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
On a separate note I also have a different problem of how after cooking each time, the area on the cast iron cooking surface where my steak was is no longer shiny. It is a dark black matte color. I noticed that subsequent seasoning, does not restore the shiny gloss to the surface of these areas anymore. Does it mean that my seasoning is bad and I need to use oven cleaner to remove everything and start over?