In this Cooking Terminology page I have compiled a list of all the culinary terms that I have come across till date. To do this, I have used the online dictionaries as well as Wikipedia to a certain extent. I bet atleast a few of these would be new to you 😀 .
I shall keep adding to this list as and when I come across new terms. This list is by no means exhaustive. Just an attempt to get you acquainted with the cooking terms that you come across in your daily life.
If you come across terms that do not find a place here, please do let me know, so that I can add them.
|Al Dente||An Italian culinary term literally meaning, "to the teeth". That is food, typically pasta, rice or vegetables cooked to be firm to the bite.|
|Au Gratin||A French culinary term for a dish covered with breadcrumbs, cheese or browned bread crumbs and butter and browned in the oven.|
|Al mattone||An Italian culinary term, which means "under a brick" or "with a brick".|
It is a method of cooking in which the food, esp meat is weighed down with a brick as it cooks on a grill to give a crispy perfectly cooked meat.
|Au Poivre||A French culinary term meaning to coat in black pepper and cook. |
Generally used with reference to Steak au poivre in which the steak is coated with black pepper and sauteed, braised or grilled.
|Au sec||A French culinary term which means to reduce liquids while cooking to the point of almost dry, though not completely dry.|
|Au jus||A French culinary term meaning 'with juice'. Generally it refers to meat dishes prepared or served with the juices released by the meat while cooking.|
|Bain marie||A pan of hot water, in which a cooking vessel is kept for slow cooking.|
|Baste||To moisten foods, esp meat , at intervals with a liquid like melted butter,fat, pan drippings etc during cooking to prevent drying out.|
|Batter||A liquid or a semi-liquid pourable mixture of wet and dry ingredients like flour, eggs, milk etc.|
It can be used to make pancakes as well as to coat foods before frying.
|Beat||To stir a mixture rapidly to incorporate air into it, using a whisk ,like in cakes.|
|Beignets||A square deep fried pastry served hot and sprinkled with icing sugar.|
|Beurre blanc||A French culinary term which is a seasoned butter sauce, flavoured with white wine, shallots and vinegar or lemon juice, usually served with sea food. |
Also called White butter.
|Beurre manié||A French culinary term meaning "kneaded butter".|
It consists of equal parts of flour and butter and is used to thicken sauces and soups.
|Blanch||To immerse food usually fruits and vegetables briefly in hot water and then transferring to an icebath to stop the cooking process.|
|Blanquette||A stew made of a light-colored meat, as chicken or veal, in white sauce or a cream sauce, often with mushrooms and small onions.|
|Blend||Mixing a substance with another so that they become a uniform homogenous substance.|
|Blind bake||To bake the pie crust or other pastry without the filling. This process browns the crust and prevents a soggy base.|
|Bloom||Blooming is generally used in reference to gelatin, cocoa powder, spices and yeast.|
To bloom gelatin is to let it sit in cool liquid so as to soften it before heating.
To bloom cocoa powder is to mix it thoroughly with a hot liquid and letting it sit for a few minutes.This intensifies the chocolate flavour.
To bloom spices is to fry them briefly in a little oil.This releases the fat soluble flavour compounds and makes them more flavourful.
To bloom yeast is to let it sit in warm water for a few minutes to activate it.
|Bocconcini||An Italian culinary term meaning "small mouthfuls". Usually refers to small balls of fresh mozarella cheese packed in whey or water.|
|Bouquet Garni||A French culinary term referring to a bunch of herbs, typically encased in a muslin bag and used for flavouring soups, stews etc.|
It is usually comprised of herbs such as parsely, thyme and bayleaf though any herb can be used.
The bouquet is usually discarded before consumption.
|Braise||Sauteing or searing food like meats and vegetables in hot oil or fat and browning them before simmering them in some liquid.|
|Brasare||An Italian culinary term meaning, 'to cook slowly'.|
|Brew||To brew beer is to extract beer by soaking, boiling and fermenting.|
To brew tea or coffee is to mix it with hot water and let sit for a few minutes.
|Brine||To brine is to soak foods esp meat in a highly concentrated solution of salt, usually to tenderise or preserve.|
|Broil||To cook food, esp meat or fish, by exposure to direct heat.|
|Brunoise||This is a French term for a culinary cut, in which the food item is diced into fine uniform |
cubes, often 2mm or lesser.
|Butterfly||To cut food into two with the centre still joined, and the two halves spread on either sides to look like a butterfly.|
|Caramelize||To brown foods , esp sugar, onion etc by heating it.|
|Cartouche||A French culinary term which means a greaseproof paper lid placed on top of sauces ,stews etc while cooking or while cooling after cooking.|
This reduces loss of moisture by evaporation as well as prevents a skin from forming on the surface.
|Chapelux||A French culinary term meaning browned bread crumbs.|
|Chiffonade||A French culinary term and is essentially a slicing techinique in which leafy vegetables or herbs are finely shredded and used as garnish in soups or salads.|
|Chine||To cut meat across or along the back bone.|
|Chop||To cut into pieces with strong downward movements of a knife or other chopping device.|
Food can be finely chopped or roughly chopped.
|Clarify||To make clear. That is to remove unwanted substances from food, esp fat by heating it. |
Ghee is obtained by clarifying butter completely till all the water in butter evaporates.
|Compote||Fruit stewed or cooked in a syrup, usually served as a dessert.|
|Concasse||To roughly chop food, esp vegetables.|
Particularly used with reference to tomatoes.
Tomato concasse means chopped tomatoes which has been peeled and seeds removed.
|Confit||Also a French culinary term.|
To confit meat esp duck,goose or pork is to cook (usually salted meat) at low temperatures in its own fat as a method of preservation.
To confit fruits is to cook fruits in highly concentated sugar solution, which is also a means of preservation.
Garlic confit is garlic cooked and immersed in oil, esp olive oil.
Tomato confit is tomato slowly cooked in the oven with olive oil.
Floral confit means edible flower petals immersed in sugar and pectin.
|Core||To remove the tough central part and seeds from fruits like apple, pears, pineapple etc.|
|Coulis||A French culinary term and refers to a sauce made with pureed and strained fruits or vegetables, used as a base or garnish.|
|Cream||To cream in baking means to mix butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy so as to incorporate air.|
|Crimp||To press or pinch into small regular folds or ridges, as in a pie.|
|Croquette||A small round or cone shaped mass of minced meat, fish or vegetables, coated with egg and bread crumbs and deep fried.|
|Croustade||A French culinary term which means, a crisp piece of bread or pastry hollowed to receive a savoury filling.|
|Cure||To preserve food, esp meat or fish by brining, salting, smoking etc to prevent spoilage.|
|Cut in||To distribute cold fat like butter into flour by performing a cutting in motion with a knife or pastry blender.|
|Dash||Usually a pinch of something, like salt and can be either 1/8th, 1/16th or even 1/24th of a tsp.|
|Deglaze||To add liquid usually stock or wine to remove browned bits of food particles stuck to the pan after frying food, esp meat. The resultant liquid is very flavourful and used in making sauces.|
|Degorge||To degorge vegetables esp cucumbers and eggplants is to salt them to extract moisture from them prior to cooking.|
To degorge meat or fish is to soak them in cold liquid to remove unwanted matter such as sand or blood before cooking.
|Dépouiller||To skin an animal.|
|Deseed||To remove all the seeds from fruits or vegetables.|
|Devein||To remove the main central vein from a shrimp or prawn.|
|Dock||To prick small holes, usually with a fork , on the surface of an unbaked dough or crust to allow steam to escape and to prevent puffing up while baking.|
|Double Boil||Melting or warming food, in a bowl placed over a pot of simmering hot water. The bottom of the bowl does not touch the water, but the steam from the water, heats up the bowl. Usually chocolates are melted by double boiling.|
|Dredge||To coat wet or moist foods with flour, bread crumbs or cornmeal before cooking.|
|Dress||Generally a sauce like mayonaise added for flavour to foods like salads. Can also mean cleaning up the food for cooking or preparation before serving to make the food attractive.|
|Drizzle||To pour a thin steady stream of liquid like butter, olive oil, syrup, sauce etc over food to enhance flavour when cooking or for decorative purposes.|
|Duxelles||A mixture of mushrooms sauteed with onions,shallots, garlic and herbs(usually parsely) used to make stuffing or a sauce.|
|Emulsify||To mix or combine two liquids together which normally do not mix easily, like oil and water|
|Effiler||A French culinary term meaning to thinly slice nuts such as almonds or to remove the fibrous part of beans by snipping off the ends.|
|Faire revenir||A French culinary term which means to brown slowly.|
|Ferment||To let food sit at room temperature for a few hours to enable microorganisms like yeast, bacteria etc to break it down to simpler substances.|
|Fines herbes||A blend of herbs (fresh or dry)used in French cooking usually including parsely, tarragon, chervil and chives.|
|Flambe||Also a French culinary term which means flamed.That is to pour alcohol esp brandy over food and set fire to it during cooking.|
|Fluff||Essentially to separate the grains (of rice) with a fork so that they do not stick together or become mushy.|
|Fold||To gently turn the mixture over itself, until it is mixed. This ensures that the air is retained and the mixture remains light and fluffy.|
|Frappe||A drink served with ice or frozen to a slushy consistency and is often served with whipped cream.|
Frappe coffee is a Greek iced coffee drink made from instant coffee, water and sugar.
|Fry||To cook food in hot fat or oil, typically in a shallow pan.|
|Garnish||To decorate or embellish food.|
|Grate||To reduce foods like vegetables, cheese etc to small shreds by rubbing against a rough or sharp perforated surface.|
|Grease||To coat a pan with a layer of butter, oil etc to prevent food from sticking to it.|
|Grill||A flat frame of metal bars, on which food can be cooked over fire.|
|Grind||To reduce something to a paste or powder by crushing it.|
|Halal food||Food that is permissable according to Islamic law.|
|Hull||Hull means the outer covering of a fruit or a seed. To hull peas is to remove the peas from the pods or shell.|
Hull also means the persistent calyx that subtends some fruits. To hull strawberries is to remove the green calyx of the fruit.
|Infuse||To steep an ingredient in a liquid to extract the flavours from it.|
|Julienne||To cut food esp vegetables to very thin strips, like match sticks.|
|Jus lie||A sauce thickened with corn starch or other thickening agents.|
|Knead||To work dough, clay etc by pulling and pushing with hand to make it soft and pliable. Essentially dough is kneaded to form gluten which gives structure to baked goods.|
|Kosher food||Foods that conform to the Jewish dietary regulations of Kashrut (dietary law).|
Kosher foods are divided into 3 categories - meat, dairy and pareve.
|Latte||Shortened form of the Italian Caffelatte which means "milk coffee".|
Latte is a type of espresso coffee served with foamy steamed milk, usually in a tall glass or mug.
|Liaison||A binding or thickening agent used in cooking, usually a mixture of egg yolks and cream.|
|Macerate||To soften foods, esp fruits by steeping in liquid thereby disintegrating them.|
|Macedoine||A hot or cold mixture of diced vegetables, like in a salad.|
|Marinate||To soak food esp meat and fish in a seasoned liquid or paste for some amount of time prior to cooking.This helps to flavour and tenderise food.|
|Mash||To reduce food to a pulpy soft mass by crushing it sometimes with a liquid.|
|Mince||To cut up food esp meat into very small pieces usually with the help of a mincer.|
|Mirepoix||A French culinary term for a sautéed mixture of diced vegetables (such as carrots, celery, and onions), herbs, and sometimes ham or bacon used especially as a basis for soups, stews, and sauces.|
|Mise en place||A French culinary phrase which means "everything in place".It refers to the organising and arranging of ingredients prior to cooking.|
|Mocha||Mocha is a high quality type of coffee, made from a specific coffee bean.|
Also used to refer a flavoured drink which combines coffee and chocolate.
|Nappe||A French culinary term referring to the consistency of a sauce to coat the back of a spoon. It can also mean the act of coating food.|
|Ort||A scrap, fragment or remains of food from a meal.|
Usually used as a plural as 'orts'
|Panade||A paste made by mixing a starch (like bread, flour or potato) with a liquid (milk, buttermilk, water or stock).Sometimes butter is also added.|
It acts as a binder, thickener and even to keep ground meat tender.
|Paner à l'anglaise||Also simply called paner, is the process of dipping food esp meat in flour first, then eggs and then fine breadcrumbs prior to frying it.|
|Papillote||A heavy, greased or oiled paper in which food, esp. meat or fish, is wrapped, cooked, and served.|
Can also be used to denote a frilled paper cover used to decorate the bone end of a cooked chop or cutlet.
|Pare||To cut away the outer layer from something especially a fruit or a vegetable.|
|Pareve||As per Jewish law, pareve are foods that are neutral, which means they are neither meat nor dairy.|
Pareve foods can be eaten with meat or dairy, whereas meat and dairy cannot be had together.
|Pickling||To immerse plant or animal food, in vinegar or salt water to preserve it from spoiling.|
|Pint||A measure for liquid equal to about half a litre. There are 8 pints in a gallon.|
In the UK a pint measures 0.568 litre and in the US it measures 0.473 litre
|Poach||To cook food esp fish, or an egg with its shell removed, by putting it in gently boiling water or other liquid.|
|Proofing/Proving||The final rise of the bread dough before baking.|
To proof yeast means to let it sit in warm water mixed with a bit of sugar, to verify if it is active.
|Puree||To make a smooth thick sauce of vegetables or fruits by crushing or blending them usually through a machine.|
|Quart||It is quarter of a gallon or two pints, equal to approximately 1.13 litres in the UK and 0.94 litre in the US.|
|Quenelle||A dumpling of finely chopped fish or meat that is poached in water or stock and usually served with a sauce.|
It can also refer to carefully shaped small amount of soft food like ice cream or mashed potato.
|Réchauffé||A dish of warmed-up food left over from a previous meal.|
|Reduce||To boil or simmer a liquid mixture so as to thicken it and intensify its flavour.|
|Render||To cook the fat out of something. Generally used with reference to cooking fatty animal tissues to bring out the oil which is used for cooking.|
|Repere||A French culinary term meaning, flour mixed with water or egg white, used to seal pans while cooking.|
|Roast||To cook food, esp meat by prolonged exposure to heat in an oven or over a fire.|
|Roux||A cooked mixture of an equal quantity of flour and fat used to thicken soups, sauces, gravies etc.|
|Salting||A method of preserving food by just using dry edible salt, like salting fish.|
|Saute||To cook food in a little oil or fat over high heat, usually till it browns.|
|Scald||To heat liquid (esp used in reference to milk) to just under a boil around 180 F,when bubbles just start to appear around the edges.|
|Score||To make cuts on the surface of foods such as bread, fish etc.|
To score bread is to slash the dough with a sharp knife to allow it to expand while cooking.This prevents cracking.
To score fish, meat etc is to make shallow cuts on the surface to aid in marination.
|Scrape||To remove food particles stuck to the bowl , pan etc using a spatula.|
|Sear||To burn or scorch the surface of foods, esp meat with sudden intense heat.|
|Season||To add salt, herbs or other spices to food to enhance the flavour.|
|Shred||To cut food like vegetables into thin slices or tear meat into strips with fork.|
|Shuck||To remove the shell or natural covering from foods that are eaten, like removing skin of fruits and vegetables or shells from oysters.|
|Sieve||A utensil consisting of a wire or plastic mesh, held in a frame used for straining food substances.|
|Sift||To put food substances usually flour, through a sieve to remove lumps or large particles.|
|Simmer||To cook food in hot liquids, below or just at boiling point.|
|Skim||To remove substances that normally float from the surface of a liquid with a spoon or ladle.|
|Smash||To render something into a mush or a pulp by throwing, or crushing using hands, motor & pestle or rolling pin.|
|Smoking||It is the process of flavoring, browning, cooking, or preserving food by exposing it to smoke from burning or smoldering material, most often wood.|
|Sprig||A small stem with leaves on it which has been picked from a plant or a bush.|
A sprig of something usually refers to a small stem of a plant or herb, about 4 inches in length.
|Steep||To soak dry ingredients like tea, spices in a liquid to extract flavours , soften or to cleanse it.|
|Strain||To pour a liquid substance through a porous or perforated device or material to separate out any solid matter.|
|Supreme||To cut fillets out of flesh.To supreme oranges means to remove the skin, pith and membranes and make it into segments.|
|Sweat||To cook vegetables like onions with little fat over low heat so that the mositure evaporates, but without browning. This often results in a tender, translucent and flavourful pieces.|
|Temper||To add a small amount of the hot liquid into the cold one to stabilize it and prevent extreme reactions. Tempering hot liquid into eggs, prevents curdling and tempering chocolate is to melt and cool chocolate so that it becomes smooth and glossy when set.|
|Temper(spices)||A process in which spices, are fried in a little oil and poured over as a whole over the food , to enhance flavour. Usually mustard, cumin, split urad, fenugreek, red chillies, curry leaves are used separately or in combination for tempering. It is mostly at the beginning or end of cooking and is |
widely practised in the Indian subcontinent.
|Tenderize||To make meat tender by marinating, pounding or applying a tenderizer.|
|Toast||To brown food, esp bread slice, on both sides by exposure to radiant either on a grill or over fire.|
|Toss||To shake or turn food in a liquid to coat it lightly. Also means to flip food like pancakes, omelettes from the pan into the air so that they land into the pan on their opposite side.|
|Truss||To tie, bind, fasten or thread the wings or legs of a fowl in preparation for cooking.|
|Whip||To mix food like cream, eggs etc vigorously to incorporate air into it thus making it very light and fluffy as well as increase in volume.|
|Whisk||An equipment either handheld or attached to a machine, containing a series of thin wired loops, used to whip food.|
|Zest||It is the scraped outer skin of unwaxed citrus fruits like lemons and oranges, usually used to add flavour to food.|
Check out my other glossaries