Pan Frying and Sautéing: Conduction

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Frying or pan-frying is the cooking of foods in fat or oil at a temperature that is well above the boiling point of water. Fats and oils can be heated to a very high temperature without evaporating, although they will eventually burn or decompose. The temperature at which any particular fat or oil will burn differs from type to type, but most vegetable oils will withstand temperatures over 200oC (392oF), which is much higher than the 165oC (374oF) usually needed for frying.

For pan frying or sautéing, the fat should come about halfway up the food, otherwise when the food is turned over, a strip all around will be either uncooked or twice cooked. Sautéing derives from the French sauter; strictly, sautéing means cooking food in hot fat while shaking or tossing the ingredients to get an even cook. Shallow-frying is used for foods like eggs, fish and steaks.

Further Reading

  • Davidson, A. (1999) The Oxford Companion to Food, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0192115790.
  • Stobart, T. (1981) The Cook's Encyclopedia: ingredients & processes, Harper & Row. ISBN 0060141271.