What's the technique called (basting while sauteing)?

Joined Oct 23, 2008
I made the best fish I've ever eaten tonight.. by using a little imagination and something I've seen on TV a few times.. now I'm wondering is there an actual name for the technique of basting hot oil over something you are sauteing? Or is that just a basic technique that doesn't warrant a name?

In case you are interested in the fish.. it was a very simple filet of tilapia, about 7 sprigs of thyme, a few tablespoons of good olive oil, and some salt and pepper. I heated the oil with the thyme in just until it popped a little in a small non stick skillet.. then placed the fish in the pan and moved a few of the thyme sprigs onto the top of the fish. I then used a spoon and tilted the pan, basting the hot olive oil over the thyme sprigs to impart that flavor until it was done. I use kosher salt and bathing the oil over it helped dissolve the salt into the oil so it was evenly seasoned.

It was incredible. :)
Joined Feb 26, 2007
Think it's called makey-yummy-fishy:peace:

Not sure there *is a special name for that, I'm sure an expert will pop in...
Joined Mar 22, 2008
I don;t know if there is a specific name, actually im pretty sure there isnt.

the idea is pretty simple but it comes from the desire baste something with butter but maintain the proteins delicate flavors.

So traditionally, you take a neutral oil like canola (high smoking temp, almost no flavor) to temperature in your pan, ad a dollop ob butter and sear your fish. The oil in th epan prevents the butter from burning (to a degree) so that you don't brown the milk solids in the butter which would overwhelm the delicate flavors of a fish. So you sear it off, baste baste baste, flip baste and if you're cooking a larger fish or whole fish you might like to finish it in the oven.

so.....a name.....saute-bauste......copyright it.
Joined Oct 23, 2008
Haha! Oh well.. I was certain it was some classic french technique that I just didn't know the name of. I really am happy I did it.. the filet was uneven.. and I was able to concentrate more of the oil onto the thicker part and finish it off evenly. Now I am excited thinking about degalzing with white wine and padding it with a bit of butter for a tasty herb sauce! (do you think capers would go well with that? Or maybe some shallots?) :roll:
Joined Feb 13, 2008
It's not a classic technique; but relatively new. It's sometimes called "speed basting" in US kitchens.

FWIW, the actual cooking of the fish is, in "classic" terms, somewhere between a sear and a saute. If you were sauteing it you'd be tossing it or turning it a lot. On the other hand, you use more fat than you would in a sear. You can do other proteins in the same way, but they have to be relatively quick-cooking.

It works especially well with fish, because you can cook skin side down to get the skin crisp, while not ignoring the top; keeping the rarest, slightly translucent "center" close to the actual center.

You can't leave the pan on the grate, because you won't build enough of a reservoir of fat by tilting the pan to baste -- that is, if you don't use too much fat. Because the pan is off the grate, you need beaucoup flame to do a good job. And don't forget to tilt the pan both ways, so the fish cooks evenly. Even good cooks have a tendency to just do it one way.

A whole, peeled garlic of clove and aprig of thyme or rosemary in the pan are "classic," for speed basting as well. You can discard them or use the sprig for garnish.

I generally discard the butter for cooking, and use the hot pan and whatever fond is in it to make a pan reduction (using fresh butter), a caperatti, or a play on beurre noisette (several pieces of cold butter, all at once into a hot pan -- when the butter is sizzling and almost melted, add just a couple of splashes of vinegar and it will go noisette instantly).

Speed basting is a fantastic technique for several things; and better than fantastic even for skin-on fish.

Joined May 26, 2001
yes, and yes! Both, even: after you take the fish out, pour out most of the fat, sauté some minced shallot in the fat that's left, then deglaze with white wine, add capers, and swirl in a little cold butter. Classic!
Joined Oct 23, 2008
Thanks Suzanne and BDL.. really glad you came back to reinforce what "classic" was.. I'd like to learn more about what is "classic" .. I assume that classic typically refers to french cuisine no?

So I would need to attend school to learn this? Classical training that is?

I am not inclined to do that.. yet.. although I respect it. I love the fact that I can play in my kitchen.. then come here and espouse things.. and ask questions. I am finding that more and more.. I am right on things.. my intuition.. is getting much much better.

Where do I go from here? Line cook.. that is where I go from here... is what I understand..
Joined Feb 4, 2012
Arroser - a french verb which means to baste. This technique is useful when searing a piece of protein to evenly brown the seared surface with the hot oil or fat.
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