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It is commonly believed that this acts to lock in the moisture or "seal in the juices" of the food. However, it has been scientifically shown that searing results in a net loss of moisture versus cooking to the same internal temperature without first searing. Nonetheless it remains an essential technique in cooking meat for several reasons:
- The browning creates desirable flavors through caramelization and the Maillard reaction.
- The appearance of the food is usually improved with a well-browned crust.
- The contrast in taste and texture between the crust and the interior makes the food more interesting to the palate.
Typically in grilling, the food will be seared over very high heat and then moved to a lower temperature area of the grill. In braising, the seared surface acts to flavor, color and otherwise enrich the liquid in which the food is being cooked.