The object of sautéing foods is to produce a
flavorful exterior with the best possible texture and color. The proper
color and texture will vary, of course, depending upon the food you are
sautéing. Red meats and game should have a deep-brown exterior. White
meats, such as veal, pork and poultry should have a golden or amber
exterior. Lean white fish will be pale gold when sautéed as skinless
fillets, whereas steaks of firm fish, such as tuna, will take on a darker
color. Onions can be sautéed to a variety of stages : limp and
translucent, crisp and deep brown or a rich mahogany with melting texture.
Because sautéing is a rapid technique and
does not have the tenderizing effect of some of the moist-heat methods,
any food to be sautéed must be naturally tender. This technique cooks food
rapidly in a small amount of fat over relatively high heat. The juices
released during cooking form the base for a sauce made in the same pan and
served with the sautéed item.
The sauce serves three purposes -
It captures the food's flavor that is lost
It introduces additional flavor (an
important factor because tender foods often have a subtle flavor). It
counteracts the dryness resulting from the sautéing process.
Stir-frying, generally associated with Asian
styles of cooking and successfully borrowed by innovative Western chefs,
shares many similarities with sautéing. Foods to be stir-fried are
customarily cut into small pieces and cooked rapidly in a small amount of