As you no doubt already know sautéing involves cooking food in a tiny amount of fat or oil in a shallow pan over high heat. If you’re like most people, you take care of all your sautéing needs using a regular old frying pan, but there are special sautéing pans. They have wide, flat bottoms, long handles and a lid. All those features are important, so it’s well worth learning why a special sautéing pan is worth the money.
Easier to Toss Ingredients
You’ll often see chefs coolly tossing the ingredients in a pan back and forth as they are sautéed. This helps achieve the best results, but it can be tough to toss the ingredients around safely in a frying pan. Sautéing pans are built around that purpose, so they offer:
- Longer handles to make tossing food safer.
- Flat bottoms to make it easier to slide the pan around on your hob.
- Straight sides to keep ingredients where they belong.
- Reduced weight for finer control and reduced strain on the wrist.
Room to Move
Another reason for the sauté pan to have a wide flat bottom is to provide enough room in the pan to prevent crowding. You need the ingredients to brown quickly without either burning or steaming them, but that’s much harder when those ingredients are crowded together. If they burn, the taste will be ruined; if they steam, they will end up soggy.
Even Heat Distribution
Even more important than preventing crowding is the even distribution of heat, and that’s something else accomplished by the flat bottom of a sautéing pan. If you don’t get the pan’s heat uniform across its entire bottom, it’s very hard to properly sauté. Using a sautéing pan makes sure the heat is distributed as perfectly as possible.
Superior Air Circulation
Finally, the low sides of a sautéing pan are necessary to ensure strong air circulation. That helps mix the flavours together, and, more importantly, it prevents the food from getting soggy and weighing down the pan.