15 most common cooking terms explained to help you talk and cook smarter

Sandra Slawinski 14th June 2019 0 comments

When I write my recipes I keep it simple so everyone regardless if English is not your mother tongue ( it isn’t mine) can read it and understand without having to pull a culinary dictionary out. However I know a lot of you are eager to learn and know the correct cooking terminology.

So here my 15 cooking terms explained to know and master and be smarter.

BLANCH – cook briefly in boiling water to seal in flavour and retain their colour. Used for vegetables like carrots, green beans and broccoli. Also used to remove skin from like tomatoes.

BOUQUET GARNI – a bundle of herbs tied with kitchen string, usually bay leave, thyme and  parsley. Used in stews, soups and sauces to bring flavour and removed before serving.

BRAISE – browning of the meat, poultry or vegetables first, than gently simmer in a little liquid over low heat in a covered pan till tender.

BROIL – cook on a rack or on a spit under direct heat usually in the oven.

DEGLAZE – adding liquid to a pan used to roast or saute, scrapping an stirring the pan while heating it up to loosen the lovely brown bits of the pan to bring all that good flavour in the sauce.

FLAMBE – by adding liquor like brandy to food while it is cooking. Let the alcohol heat up and than set on fire before serving. The alcohol will burn off and leave a toasty flavour.

GLAZE – coating food with a glossy liquid to add flavour and shine.

PARBOIL – partially cook food by boiling to finish cooking by another technique such like for potatoes first parboiled and than sauteed.

POACH – cooking in liquid on a very low heat barely simmering and covered. Great for pears and fish. The poaching liquid can be water or milk.

REDUCE – by boiling a liquid it reduces in size and becomes thicker and the flavour becomes more pronounced. A starter to make sauce.

ROAST – a large piece of meat or poultry cooking in the oven in dry heat.

SAUTE – also called pan fry, cooking in a pan with a small amount of fat over high heat.

SEAR – Browning the meat surface by cooking rapidly over high heat, this is seal in the moisture of the meat before roasting int he oven .

STIR FRY – small pieces of food are cooked over high heat while constantly stirring.

ZEST – grating the outer part of the peel of citrus fruits.

Written and photographed by Sandra Slawinski without commercial deals.