Decoding Terms – Sauté vs. Sear

October 2nd, 2009

We see it used in recipe directions all the time, but what does the word sauté actually mean?  Sauté is a cooking method that literally means “to jump”. The method is to keep food moving over high heat in a small amount of fat (oil, butter, etc)—think of stir-fry!

Sometimes sauté is confused with the term sear, which means to brown quickly over high heat. When you sear, you want to keep the food product in one place over the heat until it forms a nice golden-brown “crust” on the surface.

Both of these techniques require HIGH heat.  Do not be afraid of the flames–just be careful.  You will not get a good sauté or sear if you don’t turn your heat up to HIGH–not medium, not medium-high, but HIGH.  Using lower flame causes food to overcook on the inside and never really develop that nice caramelization (browning) we all know and love.

So, go crank up some music and get cookin’!

One Response to “Decoding Terms – Sauté vs. Sear”

  1. Great advice! Don’t forget that using high heat like this will put some smoke and particulates in the air. So don’t be afraid to crank it up and set off the smoke alarm. Just wave a towel in front of the alarm. You’ll be happy with the results.

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