Oil me up: The four absolutely essential tips for anyone who ever cooks with hot oil so it is better, safer, and cheaper

Sautéing (cooking in oil over a high heat) is one of the best ways I know to quickly cook really tasty vegetables. Such as red peppers. And sugar snap peas. And asparagus. Unfortunately, however, cooking with oil can be tricky. So here are the four best tips to make it better, safer, cheaper.

One: Cooking with oil, ha, ha, ha
Use the right oil for the job. Namely, an oil with a low smoking point.

What is a smoking point? Good question. The smoking point is the point where heated oil starts to smoke. You don't want to reach this point because it is also the point where oil starts to decompose which, in turn, gives your food a nasty taste. But you do want high heat because it enhances flavor. So the trick is to use an oil with as high a smoking point as possible. Let me explain ...

Different oils and other fats have different smoking points. Safflower oil, for example, has a higher smoking point than olive oil. So, to get a low smoking point, you would choose safflower oil over olive oil, for example, when you sauté.

Two: Cooking with oil, ha, ha, ha
Thoroughly heat your sauté pan before you add your oil.
Smoking points can become shortened by a number of factors. Such as impurities in the oil, including leftover food bits. Or if you reuse heated oil again and again. And how long the oil has heated.

So you heat the pan before you add the oil so your oil hasn't been heated for a long period of time before your pan is nice and hot. A long period of time that brings it that much closer to its smoking point.

Three: Cooking with oil, ha, ha, ha
Don't sauté with your nice expensive extra virgin olive oil.

Beyond the fact that olive oil doesn't have a high smoking point, you will lose the wonderful flavor of your costly oil. Better you should use a cheaper oil, such as safflower for cooking, then drizzle olive oil onto your food afterward, so you can actually taste it.

FOUR: Cooking with oil, HA, HA, HA
It's not a good idea to sprinkle salt on food cooking in hot oil.

Beyond the fact that it can lower the smoking point, it may present a fire hazard. So sprinkle your salt after you plate your meal. Besides, you'll probably use less. Which is all to the best.