When I posted “sauteing basics” in 2008, I thought I had it all covered. Seems not. A reader emailed me a couple of days ago asking why, in some recipes, the onions and tomatoes are sauteed ahead of the garlic. That’s very wrong, according to her, because the garlic always goes in first.
The same issue was raised in a comment thread in one of the recipes, I just can’t remember which one exactly. And, if I remember correctly, I have answered the issue in the comment thread. But since the question has been raised again by another reader, I’m now pretty much convinced that there are more than two persons in the world who believe that, when sauteing, there is a strict order by which the vegetables go into the pan — garlic, onion and tomato.
I understand that in Filipino cooking, sauteing often means frying garlic, onion and tomatoes in a little oil over high heat. That’s the way so many of our local dishes begin. So, I understand the mindset. Some people even think that every dish, to be correctly cooked, must necessarily begin with sauteing. There was this high school teacher… You can read about him by clicking here.
First of all, sauteing is a cooking method — not a trinity of ingredients — and it is not exclusive to Filipino cooking. A cook can saute ginger and nothing else. Or garlic and chili pepper without onion nor tomato. What happens to the strict order of garlic-onion-tomato then? »