Friday, November 6, 2009

What Is The Purpose of Sautéing Foods?

The objective 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 a 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 two purposes:

It captures the food's flavor that is lost during cooking.

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 oil.


2 large eggplants, ends cut off, thickly sliced
45 ml/3 tablespoons olive oil
8 lamb cutlets, trimmed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
6 large tomatoes, blanched, skinned and thickly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


2 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
150 ml natural yogurt
Freshly ground black pepper


1 lemon, sliced
Sprigs of mint


Sprinkle salt over the eggplant and leave for 20 minutes. Rinse the eggplant and dry with absorbent kitchen paper. Heat 30 ml/2 tablespoons olive oil in a wok over a very high heat and add the lamb cutlets. When brown, lower the heat and continue cooking until the meat is tender - about 5 minutes on each side. Remove from the wok, drain on absorbent kitchen paper and keep in a warm oven.

Add the remaining oil to the wok and fry the eggplant slices with the garlic until they are lightly browned on both sides. (If the oil dries out, add a little more). When they are cooked, push them up the side of the wok and add the tomato slices. Stir-fry for a few moments and season with salt and pepper.

Place the vegetables on a dish and arrange the cutlets over the vegetables. Garnish with lemon slices and sprigs of mint. Prepare the sauce by stirring the mint into the yogurt. Grind some black pepper over it and serve in a small bowl.

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