This section is from the book "Elements Of The Theory And Practice Of Cookery", by Mary E. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Elements Of The Theory And Practice Of Cookery; A Textbook Of Domestic Science For Use In Schools.
Sauteing, often incorrectly called "frying," is cooking in a small quantity of fat. It is a slower method than "deep frying," less healthful, because the food cannot be kept from absorbing grease, and more wasteful, on account of the fat taken up in this way. But, as it is sometimes convenient to saute potatoes, liver, small dry fish, and a few other kinds of food, it is important to know how to do it in the best way.
Have the pan hot enough to hiss when the fat is put into it, and the fat hot enough to hiss when the food is put in. Cook the food first on one side, then on the other. Use very little fat, adding from time to time just enough to keep the food from burning.
The very worst way of cooking food is to put it into a cold or half-warm pan with grease enough to half cover it, and to let it sizzle and soak till it is wanted. Such food is unfit to eat.