Sautéing is a method of cooking food. It uses a small amount of fat in a shallow pan. The heat must be quite high. Ingredients are often cut into pieces or sliced thinly. It makes things cook faster. Food that is sautéed is browned, but it keeps the same texture, moisture and flavor. If meat, or fish is sautéed, the sauté is sometimes finished by using the pan's remains to make a sauce.
Sautéing is different from pan-frying. People sometimes confuse the two. In pan-frying larger pieces of food (for example, chops or steaks) are cooked quickly. Sautéing is also different from searing. Searing only browns the surface of the food. Olive oil or clarified butter are commonly used for sautéing. Most others fats will work too. Regular butter will produce more flavor. However it burns at a lower temperature and more quickly than other fats. This is because of the milk solids in it. Therefore clarified butter is better for sautéing.