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Saute

Sautéing is a method of cooking, wherein the food is cooked on a pan which is placed on high heat, along with a small quantity of fat or oil. The food is randomly tossed while cooking, so as to ensure even cooking and browning of the food. Popular sautéed dishes include sautéed onions, sautéed green peppers and sautéed potatoes.

Origin of Sautéing

The origin of sautéing can be traced back to the time when frying emerged as a process of cooking, as sautéing falls under shallow-frying. Lard and animal fat were initially used to prepare sautéed recipes, but with the invention of various types of low-fat, low-cholesterol and healthy oils, the former was replaced. Sautéing began as a process of cooking meats and vegetables, which got slightly browned on the outside due to the caramelizing of sugars present in the food, while the natural flavor and moisture was sealed inside due to the high heat. This process resulted in a highly flavorful and aromatic final dish, which made sautéing highly popular, and several types of sautéed dishes were invented across the globe in different cuisines. Almost every cuisine has a wide range of sautéed recipes.

The Process of Sautéing

Sautéing is carried out by first cutting the food to be sautéed into small, preferably thin pieces. The small size of the food allows it to cook faster as sautéing is a quick process. Oil is then heated in a wide, flat-base fry pan or griddle which can hold all the food items together in one layer, allowing the steam to escape so that the sautéed dish remains crispy on the outside, while fresh and juicy inside. The food is placed inside the pan, which contains a small quantity of oil at a very high temperature. The food is continuously moved and flipped while sautéing, so as to cook and brown it on all sides. If meat is being sautéed, the liquid residue obtained is generally used in order to prepare a sauce to accompany the sautéed dish. Sautéing is an extremely fast method of cooking as all the food are placed in the pan at once and are quickly cooked on high heat and then removed and served immediately. Sautéing is used to prepare everyday dishes as well as elaborate specialty preparations.

Popular Sautéed Dishes

Sautéed Spinach, Sautéed Chicken and Sautéed Plantains are examples of popular sautéed dishes. The popularity varies from cuisine to cuisine, as every cuisine has its own list of sautéed recipes. Olive oil and butter are the most commonly used fats for sautéing, and most of the meats and vegetables such as poultry, beef, seafood, potatoes, onions and peppers are suitable ingredients for preparing sautéed recipes. Sautéing is commonly used across most of the cuisines, although minor variations exist in every cuisine.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Sautéing

Sautéing is advantageous over certain other methods of cooking as it is a very fast process, and the amount of fat required is lesser as compared to deep-frying.

However, sautéed dishes do contain a certain amount of fat, and are less healthy as compared to boiled or baked dishes. Also, sautéing needs skill and constant supervision as the food needs to be tossed and mixed while cooking; else it is under the risk of getting burnt or unevenly cooked.

Techniques Similar to Sautéing

Sautéing is very similar to searing, with the only difference being that seared dishes are only cooked on the surface, while sautéed dishes are cooked throughout. Stir-frying is another method similar to sautéing but the difference between the two is that sautéing involves cooking all the food items together in a flat pan, whereas stir-frying requires the food items to be added in rapid succession into a wok, which is a round bottomed cooking pan.