Cooking Terms

  • Al Dente

Cooked until firm but not crunchy. Usually used in reference to vegetables and pasta.

  • Bake

To cook in a dry heat chamber – usually an oven without direct exposure to the heat source.

  • Bain-marie

A container filled with hot water in which another container holding food is placed, to cook that food gently.

  • Baste

To pour liquid over food (normally meat) while it cooks, helping to retain moisture.

  • Beat

To stir vigorously with a spoon, fork or beater to incorporate air into the food, giving it a light texture.

  • Blanch

To place a food in boiling water briefly. This is often done to help remove skin (tomatoes or almonds for example), or to prepare vegetables for freezing.

  • Bouillon

A clear broth made from boiling meat and vegetables with seasonings and then straining.

  • Braise

To brown meat on all sides and then add a small amount of liquid and cook, covered. This method is used to tenderize tough meats.

  • Brown

To use dry heat to caramelize the outside of a food, normally a piece of meat. This gives a nice flavor and an appetizing color.

  • Broth

A thin soup generally made with stock, with meat and/or vegetables added. This word is sometimes incorrectly used instead of the word “stock”

  • Butterfly

To increase surface area and speed cooking, a thicker food item is split almost in two and folded out.

  • Caramelize

To use a high heat to cause a reaction between amino acids and natural sugars present in food, creating a rich taste and appearance.

  • Cheesecloth

Loosely woven cotton cloth that allows liquids but not solids to pass through.

  • Chop

Method of cutting a food item quickly into fairly small, uneven pieces.

  • Curry

A dish or, as curry powder, a spice mixture. As a dish, this is a stewed mixture of meat, lentils or vegetables along with spices. As a spice mixture, it commonly contains the following ingredients: turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin, chile pepper and fenugreek.

  • Deglaze

To add a small amount of liquid to a pan in which a food item has been cooked in order to loosen the caramelized food from the bottom of the pan and make a sauce.

  • Degrease

To remove the fat that congeals at the top of a sauce or other liquid.

  • Dice

To chop into even cubes approximating the size of a single dice but often smaller.

  • Fish sauce

A condiment and cooking ingredient made from fermented fish, very common in Eastern Asian countries.

  • Fold

A gentle method of mixing a light substance in with a heavier substance that allows for the light texture to remain. To do this, you first place the lighter substance on top and then use a spatula to scrape down the side to the bottom and gently bring that section to the top in a folding motion, continuing this around the bowl.

  • Julienne

Cutting mehod that produces thin slices a couple of inches long.

  • Jus

The liquid released when cooking meats.

  • Marinate

To soak food in a liquid normally containing both seasoning and acid that acts to tenderize the food. The acid is commonly vinegar, wine or yogurt.

  • Mince

To chop very finely.

  • Mousse

What is produced when whipping a great deal of air into a batter or other thick liquid.

  • Parboil

To cook partially in boiling water. Normally used as a timesaving action or to keep foods in a firm state but partially cooked for use in another recipe.

  • Parchment paper

A nonstick paper used for baking. Similar to wax paper but with a higher temperature tolerance.

  • Pare

To peel very thinly.

  • Poach

To cook a food item by submerging it in a simmering liquid.

  • Puree

To mash or mix a food until it becomes a smooth pulp. Normally achieved with a blender or food processor.

  • Reduce

To thicken a liquid by cooking until enough water evaporates that desired thickness is achieved.

  • Reduction

The thickened substance that results from reducing a liquid.

  • Roast

As with baking, to roast is to cook in a dry heat chamber such as an oven. Normally the term “bake” is used when the food fills the cooking container and the term “roast” is used when air circulates around the food within the container.

  • Roulade

A food item rolled around a stuffing.

  • Roux

Oil or melted fat mixed with flour or cornstarch and heated; used as a starter and thickener for sauces.

  • Saute

To cook quickly with a small amount of fat in a very hot pan.

  • Sear

Use a very high heat to brown meat quickly, resulting in caramelization, a pleasing color and texture.

  • Steam

To cook food via direct contact with steam but not the boiling liquid that produces that steam. This results in a moist food with nutrients fairly intact.

  • Stew

To first brown food (normally meat) and then cook in plenty of liquid over a long time. This cooking method normally produces a thick sauce, which is eaten as part of the stew.

  • Stir-fry

This is similar to sautéing, but the cooking surface area is usually larger and the stirring is more constant. Food is cut into small pieces with a relatively large surface area and cooked on very high heat with little fat, stirring to prevent sticking.

  • Stock

The resultant liquid after simmering food in water for long periods of time and then straining. Normally stock is made by simmering bones along with some herbs, spices and vegetables.

  • Sweat

Cooking food in a small amount of fat or oil over low heat, covered, until the food softens. Normally used to cook vegetables.

  • Whip

To beat in an exceptionally vigorous manner that directs plenty of air into the food, making it very light and fluffy.


3 Comments on “Cooking Terms

  1. Pingback: CRANBERRY AND APPLE SAUCE - Vera's Cooking

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *