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Chefify - 67 Culinary Terms Every Professional Chef Should Know

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Are these culinary terms part of your daily vocabulary or part of your restaurant team's one?

A

Acidulation: To make something sour or acidic by adding vinegar, wine, lemon or lime juice. This process can aid in enhancing the flavour or preserving the ingredients.

Aerate: To mix air into dry ingredients and changing the composition of the material. Sifting flour to remove clumps is an example of this.

Agrodolce: Produced by reducing sweet and sour elements, agrodolce is a traditional Chinese sauce. The name is derived from the Italian words “agro” and “dolce”.

Aiguillette: The fine, thin slices of meat cut from the most tender part of the duck or chicken breast. Also refers to cuts from the rump or flank of beef.

Al dente: An Italian term that refers to pasta or rice that is being cooked to the point where it is still fairly firm.

Allumettes: Vegetables cut into small matchstick shapes – this helps the vegetable to cook evenly and quickly.

A point: Cooking a piece of meat to the ideal degree.

Arroser: To use a vegetable or animal fat to baste something.

Aspic: A savoury meat gelatin in which ingredients are set. It’s made from meat stock or consommé.

Au gratin: Using seasoned breadcrumbs and cheese, au gratin is the process of grilling a dish until it’s golden brown on top.

Au sec: In French, au sec means “nearly dry”, and in cooking, this refers to reducing a liquid to the point where it’s almost dry.

B

Bain-marie: In order to cook delicate foods like custards or sauces without curdling them, the ingredients are placed in a container over boiling water. A bain-marie is essentially a “ hot bath”.

Barding: Using a layer of fat to cover the meat before cooking in order to preserve its moisture and tenderness.

Blanching: Quickly submerging ingredients in boiling water and then ice water in order to stop the cooking process.

Braising: The process of sealing meat in hot oil before cooking in a covered pot at a low to medium temperature in a moderate amount of liquid to keep the moisture.

Brining: Similar to marinating, meat is soaked in salted water. This makes the meat more flavourful and moist.

Broyer: To grind, knead or crush the ingredients.

C

Carpaccio: An Italian dish of raw meat or fish, cut into paper-thin slices and seasoned with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon.

Chiffonade: A soup garnish of finely cut vegetables.

Concasse: Roughly chopping vegetables, usually tomatoes that have been seeded and peeled.

Confit: Slowly cooking meat in its own fat, typically a technique applied to duck.

D

Dégorger: The act of purifying fish, meat or poultry in cold water to remove impurities.

Dépouiller: To skim off the foam or scum that collects at the top of a liquid.

Dredging: Coating a wet ingredient in dry material such as flour or breadcrumbs before cooking.

E

Escalope: A thin piece of boneless meat that has been beaten flat by a mallet or rolling pin. Traditionally the term refers to veal.

Emincer: Cutting or slicing very thinly.

F

Flambé: A technique that uses alcohol for presentation purposes; it is the process of covering the dish with alcohol and setting alight. Flambéing can refer to this happening in the pan while cooking and reduces the alcohol content of the dish without inhibiting the flavour.

Fabricated cuts: When big chunks of meat (primal cuts) have been cut into smaller pieces, such as individual steaks, these subprimal pieces are referred to as fabricated cuts.

Flash frozen: Food that has been placed under extremely low temperatures for rapid freezing is referred to as flash frozen. In some cases, chemicals may be used to aid the process.

Forestiére: A side garnish of morels and potato balls that have been sauteéd in butter. The term also refers to a similar garnish of mushrooms.

Frenching: The process of cutting fat, meat and cartilage away from a rack of ribs. A sharp paring knife is used to cut between the bones.

G

Gastrique: This is a sweet-and-sour sauce created by reducing equal parts of vinegar and sugar or honey to produce a syrup.

Glace de viande: Reduced brown stock used to glaze meat.

Glaze: When a liquid is reduced to form a thick consistency, this is referred to as a glaze.

H

Hull: The hull is the green leafy part on top of the strawberry. The term can also refer to removing the leafy parts of fruit and vegetables.

I

Involtini: A recipe of Italian origin where meat, poultry, seafood or vegetables are wrapped around a filling (usually cheese).

Irradiation: Generally happens at the production stage and refers to a process whereby food is exposed to electron beams in order to destroy potentially harmful germs.  

J

Jacquarding: The process of puncturing needle-thin holes into a piece of meat to tenderise it. This is an alternative to using chemicals or marinade.

Julienne: A method of cutting food into short, thin strips.

Jus: A term which refers to the “juice” or pan drippings that are produced from the meat during the cooking process, this is then served with the meat as a flavour intensifying gravy.

L

Lactobacillus: A bacteria that is found in fermenting foods such as yoghurts.

Larding: Weaving or inserting long strips of fat (commonly, strips of pork backfat) into a leaner meat to add moisture.

Liaison: The technique of thickening a soup or sauce by adding a mixture of egg yolks and cream.

M

Macerate: The process of soaking fruit in a liquid (juice, water, syrup) to soften the ingredient and infuse it with the flavor of that liquid.

Mise en place: Directly translated from French, this term means “putting in place”, referring to the act of organizing all the ingredients prior to cooking.

Meunière: A French term meaning “the millers wife” and refers to a cooking technique where fish is dusted with seasoned flour before frying in butter.

Mirepoix: Chopped vegetables, usually onions, celery and carrots that have been sautéed to add extra flavour to sauces.

N

Nappe: A term referring to the consistency of a sauce. After immersing a spoon into the sauce, you should be able to run your index finger over the back of the spoon and leave a clean, lump-free line down the middle. This indicates that the sauce is ready.

Neige: A technique usually used in pastry and dessert making and requires egg whites to be beaten until stiff.

Nimono: A Japanese term for stewing or simmering.

O

Oignon pique: An onion that has been pricked with a bay leaf and clove, typically used in the preparation of béchamel sauce.

P

Paner à l’anglaise: Usually a piece of meat or fish that has been covered in breadcrumbs before sauteéing.

Papillote: The term literally translates to “in paper” and refers to the technique of cooking food that is wrapped up in parchment.

Parboiling: To partially cook food in boiling or simmering water.

A la plancha: A traditional Spanish method of grilling food on a large metal plate.

Q

Quadriller: Square or charred marks produced during the grilling process.

R

Refreshing: This term shares its definition with “shocking” which is to plunge vegetables into ice cold water in order to stop the cooking process.

Remouillage: Sometimes referred to as a second stock, remouillage is the process of resimmering bones that have already been used to make a stock. The weaker stock is still able to enhance the flavour of the dish.

Render: To cook the fat out of an ingredient such as pork.

Roux: A mixture used to thicken sauces, usually created by mixing equal parts of butter and flour.

S

Sabayon: A light sauce that’s created by whisking egg yolks and wine over simmering water; the flavour can be varied by adding sweet wine and sugar. It has a thick and frothy consistency and can be served as a dessert, drink or sauce.

Sauté: To quickly fry ingredients in a wide hot pan, usually adding butter and oil.

Scald: Heating a liquid, usually milk, to its boiling point where bubbles begin appearing at the surface.

Steep: When dry ingredients such as coffee, spices or tea are dissolved or soaked into a liquid until it takes on the taste of the ingredient.  

 

VWX

Velouté: A velvety sauce produced by mixing a light stock with a roux and allowing it to turn light brown.

Winnowing: Separating the grain from the chaff.

Xanthan gum: A water-soluble additive that is used to thicken salad dressings. It’s produced by the fermentation of sugar.