Tips for Sauteing
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Culinary Uses

The main tips to keep in mind when sauteing are:

  • Use even-cut, bite-sized pieces.
  • Have them all ready before lighting the burner.
  • Maintain High Heat (listen for the sizzle) at all times.
  • Circulate your product (toss or stir) from time to time to promote even browning.

Some additional tips sauteing tips are:

Don’t cover your saute, unless your recipe specifically instructs you to do so. Depending on the base product, trapped steam can soften your sauteed products, instead of imparting a crisp exterior. Don’t overcrowd the pan or clump your ingredients all in at once. Spread the food in a single layer so each bite-sized piece has exposure to the cooking surface. If they are too close, the ingredients can steam.

Excessive movement hinders the formation of a good sear. For meat or starchy products (like potatoes), try not to move the product too much until you have achieved the golden crust of a good sear.

When sauteing vegetables, consider the vegetables’ moisture content. Mushrooms, with a high moisture content can almost be sauteed dry, or even with another vegetable like onions. Adding a bit of lemon juice can help the mushrooms brown. Zucchini and Eggplant are similarly moist vegetables. Contrary to how we season most everything else we saute, you may want to salt these moister vegetables at the beginning of the sauté to dry them out. As the moisture evaporates over the high heat, stir or toss your ingredients more often to maintain even browning.

For lower water content vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, or cauliflower season them like everything else we sauté, near the end of cooking to preserve moisture which will keep them from going limp. Another good solution for drier vegetables, might be to blanch them first so that when sautéed they more quickly cook through evenly and thoroughly.

Equivalent-sized pieces of vegetable like zucchini and carrots will cook differently. The harder, denser carrot will take longer to saute. Harder or more fibrous vegetables, like root vegetables, including carrots, may even need to be cut in smaller pieces to promote thorough cooking, so that the center is done when the crust has formed. If sauteed all together, introduce the food in reverse order of their cook times; longer cooking items in first, shorter cook time items in last. An exception to this rule is if your first ingredients are aromatics (like Garlic or Ginger), intended to share their flavor with the other ingredients. The aromatics should go in first, but watch the heat as they are generally delicate. Other times you may want to saute vegetables quickly, to maintain their organic color and natural crunchiness (Al Dente).