To cook food (non-submerged) in hot fat or oil over moderate to high heat is called Frying.
There is very little difference between frying and SAUTEING although sautéing is often thought of as being faster and using less fat.
To cook food quickly in a small amount of fat or oil is sautéing until brown, in a skillet or sauté pan over direct heat. The sauté pan and fat must be hot before the food is added; otherwise the food will absorb oil and become soggy.
To brown meat or fish quickly over very high heat either in a fry pan, under a broiler or in a hot oven is searing. Searing seals in the food's juices and provides a crisp tasty exterior.
Seared food can then be eaten rare or roasted or braised to desired degree of doneness.
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