The Language of Cooking
If you’re an inexperienced home cook, it’s possible that some recipes read like a foreign language! Even experienced chefs might have to look up some of the more baffling cooking terms on new recipes so it’s safe to assume that home chef’s will need to do the same from time to time. Here’s a quick list of some of the most common cooking terms you’ll see in recipes, and what they mean.
If your thanksgiving turkey recipe calls for you to baste the bird, that just means that you’ll need to moisten the food with melted fat, butter, pan drippings, or a sauce. This technique is used to prevent drying out and to add flavor to your food. You can baste just about anything but you’ll most often find this term in recipes that include poultry like a roast chicken or turkey.
If you’re making your Grandmother’s homemade tomato sauce and see that you need to blanch the tomatoes first, don’t fret! Blanching simply means that you’ll have to briefly and partially cook food in hot water or fat. Most often, this term is used for vegetables or fruits, to loosen their peels. To get a perfect blanched tomato, make sure to score the ends of your tomatoes with an ‘x’ before dropping them into your boiling water.
You might find instructions to caramelize the onions if you’re making French Onion Soup. Caramelizing simply means a process of cooking where the sugars of your food are browned, enhancing the flavor and appearance. You can also caramelize sugar until it liquefies and turns brown. Caramelizing is most often done at high heat with very few, if any, liquid.
Another simple cooking term that I bet you’ve done more than you realize is dredging. To dredge means to coat a food with flour or another finely ground product. When you coat chicken in flour before frying it, you’re dredging! Other common cooking terms include trussing, which means to tie poultry with butcher’s string to create a compact shape and ensure even cooking; simmering means to cook foods gently in liquid low temperature where tiny bubbles barely break the surface; and searing which is to brown meat quickly over high heat.
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