Searing is a cooking process which involves the application of dry heat to food in order to cook it and/or enhance the flavor and texture of the food. Seared dishes are prepared by exposing the food to a high intensity of heat for a short period of time which, on one hand, partially or completely cooks the food and browns the surface, and also enhances the flavor of the food by caramelizing the sugars present in the food. Fish and meats are the most commonly used ingredients for preparing seared recipes.
Origin of Searing
Searing can be dated back to the ancient times when man used to cook meat above fire, as the meat became easily digestible and tasted better. Searing was thus practiced since time immemorial, although it was only in the year 1912 that a French Chemist named Louis Camille Maillard discovered and provided the scientific process behind searing, which was termed Maillard Reaction, after his name. Searing has forever been practiced in preparing various delicacies in every cuisine around the globe.
The Process of Preparing Seared Dishes
Searing can be carried out in a wide variety of ways using different types of dry heat methods such as baking, roasting, frying, sautéing or broiling. The pan, oven or grill is first heated to a high temperature (about 300 degrees Fahrenheit), and the food is then exposed to the heat. The high temperature browns the surface of the food and gives it a complex and appetizing flavor due to the caramelizing of the carbohydrates present in the food. When performing Searing on a pan, oil or fat is generally used to brown the food. Seared recipes usually require the food to be cooked before or after the searing process, as searing only cooks the food on the outside, and if the food being seared is large in size, it may remain uncooked on the inside, as the heat may not be able to penetrate all the way into the food during the short cooking process. The equipment required for preparing seared dishes depends upon the method of heat application chosen for searing. Searing is an extremely fast process and takes less than a few minutes to be carried out.
Popular Seared Recipes
Popular seared dishes include seared tuna, salmon, lamb chops and beef tenderloin. Seared recipes include standalone recipes as well as those which require the meats to be seared before or after cooking by another process as in the case of dishes like roasted, stewed, sautéed or baked meat preparations. Red meats are most the most preferred ingredient for searing, along with fish and seafood. Searing is practiced in a variety of ways in different cuisines all across the globe.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Searing
The advantage of searing is that it provides a unique appearance and mouth feel to the food and highly enhances its flavor in a very short duration of time.
However, the disadvantage is that searing cannot cook the food completely and needs to be paired with another method of cooking specially in case of large pieces of meat, as the outer surface gets browned very easily but the heat is not able to cook the inside of the meat in such short time.
Techniques Similar to Searing
Searing is very much similar normal frying, baking or roasting, but the heat involved is much higher, and the time duration for which the food is exposed to the heat is considerably shorter.
• It is believed that searing seals the moisture inside the meat, which is not true, as seared foods tend to lose almost as much as or more moisture than non-seared foods because of the high intensity of heat.
• Prior to searing, the food should be at room temperature.
• Oil or fat may be used to enable even browning of the food.