Cooking and Kitchen Terminology

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A long list of Cooking and Kitchen Terminology and Techniques. How many of these terms do you know?

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a dark red sauce made from ground chilies, herbs and vinegar


what we all do but in cooking it means keeping meats or cheeses in a controlled environment for a certain amount of time to improve tenderness and flavor

al Dente'

describes pasta cooked firm to the bite (not mushy")"

au jus

the natural drippings or juice from a pan after cooking beef and deglazing


to wrap thin sheets of fat or bacon around lean meat or poultry to prevent it from drying out while roasting


to brush, squirt or pour drippings, fat or liquid, over food while broiling, roasting or baking to prevent drying out; develops a crusty exterior and improves flavor and appearance of product being cooked


to thicken a hot liquid or sauce by stirring in a roux, flour, cornstarch, egg yolks, cream or butter


a shellfish soup with cream


method of cooking that uses spices (sometimes butter) to coat fish or steak or chicken and then cooked in a very hot cast iron skillet


to partially cook vegetables by plunging them into boiling water (often salted) for up to one minute and then cooling them quickly in cold or ice water


to cook at the boiling point keeping water or other liquids bubbling; rapid penetration of heat

bok choy

a Chinese cabbage with long white stalks and narrow green leaves


a fish soup made from several varieties of fish, tomatoes, saffron, fennel and wine (Mediterranean origins)


simmering lean meat, bones, seasonings and vegetables and removing all food particles leaving a clear soup

Bouquet Garni

a bouquet of fresh herbs (frequently bay leaf, thyme and parsley) tied together and immersed in a liquid; used to season stocks and braised foods


a method of cooking that involves browning meat with vegetables in fat, oil or butter first, then slowly cooking the food in a small amount of liquid; a pot roast is often cooked this way


the separation of fat from a liquid content of a sauce or soup; appears curdled


to coat the food with bread crumbs (usually the food is first dipped in flour and then beaten eggs, then bread crumbs)


a method of cooking where the food is placed directly underneath or above the source of high heat


a liquid made by simmering meats or fish or poultry or vegetables or their by-products in water with herbs (also stock")"


quickly searing food to enhance flavor; most often done at the beginning of the cooking process


to coat food with a liquid such as melted butter or a glaze using a brush designed for this process


to cut food down the center but not all the way through; done to spread the food apart for quicker cooking without burning




pickled flower buds from the Mediterranean


a process of cooking sugar (usually with oil or butter) until it begins to color; foods containing natural sugars will caramelize in their own sugars


sometimes called curly endive; a type of lettuce (chicory root is sometimes used as a coffee substitute)


a filling made light and fluffy with beaten egg whites or whipped cream


to cut into non-uniformed pieces or rough cut


a process of making a liquid clear; removing milk solids and impurities from butter resulting in a pure golden liquid butter used for many cooking purposes


a temperature scale in which 0 (zero) is freezing and 100 degrees is boiling or steaming


to cover food with another product


mixing ingredients together


remove the center of fruits


beat butter or shortening until light and fluffy


to reduce food to small particles using a tool (rolling pin or mortar and pestle)


to cut up into regular sizes

cut in

the process of combining solid fat (such as butter or shortening) with a dry ingredient (such as flour) until small pea-size particles are formed; as is done when making pie crust or biscuits


about 1/16th of a teaspoon; a pinch" or less"


to cook submerged in very hot fat (like French fries) until golden brown


to swirl a liquid into a pan to dissolve particles of food on the bottom of the sauté' or roast pans for flavor


a rich brown sauce made from reduced veal or beef stock; used to make classic sauces


to add hot, spicy ingredients (pepper, Tabasco, cayenne, mustard) to a food


to cut into regular sized cubes; small, medium or large

direct heat

a grilling method of cooking, allowing food to be cooked directly over a flame or heat source


to stir a dry substance into a liquid until no solids remain


a scoop or spoonful of food placed on top of another food


a combination of flour, water or milk and sometimes a leaven (yeast) to make a mixture for baking


to remove and discard the liquid contents from a cooking process (as in draining cooked potatoes or vegetables)


to lightly coat food to be pan-fried or sautéed (usually with flour, cornmeal or bread crumbs)


the juices and fat that is collected from the pan of cooked foods

Dutch Oven

a large, deep pot that is covered with a tight fitting lid

egg wash

liquefied eggs; beaten eggs with milk or water sometimes added; used in the breading process, in sealing pieces of dough and to coat some baked goods for a shiny look when baked


small particles of oil or another liquid suspended in the other (e.g. vinaigrette salad dressing)


in France this refers to the first course of a meal after the soup but before the main course; in the USA it is the main dish


a very strong, dark coffee brewed with steam pressure


a temperature scale in which 32 degrees represents freezing and 212 degrees is the steam point( to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius, subtract 32 from the Fahrenheit reading, multiply by 5 and divide by 9; better yet


a boneless, skinless piece of meat (fillet is used for boneless, skinless fish)

filet mignon

center cut from the tenderloin of beef


to remove the bones from fish or meat before cooking (fish fillet, meat filet)


to remove impurities or particles of food by pouring through cheesecloth or a strainer or China Cap" (chinoise)"


to break food into small pieces (or allow it to do so when cooking)


a method of cooking in which foods are splashed with liquor and ignited


food cooked with or garnished with spinach


a decorative scalloped edge on pastry or pie crusts; vegetables can be fluted as a way to make them have more eye appeal


solids (sucs) left in the bottom of a pan after cooking meats; adding water to dissolve the sucs creates the fond base liquid


combining two or more products with a spatula or spoon using a side-to-side motion or a top-to-bottom motion


a warmed creamy liquid made of cheese, eggs, wine or other products and used as a dip for vegetables, breads and some other products


a stew of cut up poultry fried in butter and simmered with vegetables


an omelet that is baked and not folded; open-faced" omelet"


to fry julienne vegetables in hot oil until crisp


a chocolate coating made with chocolate, egg yolks and heavy cream; used as filling for truffles and coating for pies and other desserts


a decorative touch added to dishes and beverages


a stock that has been reduced to a syrupy consistency and used to add flavor and color to a sauce


a liquid that gives a shiny surface to an item


to shred food into fine pieces


to sprinkle an item with cheese and/or bread crumbs and baked until golden brown


a sauce made from pan drippings and thickened with a roux


to cook directly over a heat source on metal racks


corn kernels with the germ and bran removed

hors d'Oeuvres

small portions of foods, canapés; appetizers


to remove the leafy parts of fruits


extracting flavors by soaking them in a liquid heated in a covered pan

insulated baking sheet

a cookie sheet with a space between its double layers to prevent hot spots


a solidifying process usually using gelatin


to cut food into uniform thin strips two-three inches long


small chucks of meat, fish, or shellfish that are usually marinated before being skewered and grilled, broiled or pan-fried (pieces of vegetables often are added to the skewer); also called shish kebab""


to press and fold dough in order to give it a smoother consistency needed for leavening

kosher salt

very coarse salt


putting strips of fat into pieces of meat to help the braised meat stay moist and juicy during cooking


yeast: also the process of whipping egg whites that produces air bubbles and causes the rising of baked items


to swirl or layer one food item into another to create a ribbon effect when cooked and sliced


a liquid sauce that is used to soften and flavor meats before cooking (most marinades contain ingredients such as vinegar, oil, lemon, wine, beer, herbs and spices)


to cover a food item with a liquid substance (see above)


a small piece of meat (beef, chicken, pork, veal) lightly pounded into an oval or a round


sweetened egg whites beaten until stiff but light


to chop into very fine pieces


a mixture of rough-cut or diced vegetables, herbs and spices used for flavoring

mise en place

a French cooking term for having all your ingredients prepped and ready to use before starting to cook (very important!)


the addition of small pieces of cold butter to a sauce as a finishing process


heating wine, cider, or juices with spices, citrus and sugar


to cover a food item with a thin, even layer of sauce


grown or raised without chemicals or artificial growth enhancers, without chemical fertilizers or chemical pesticides (this is a favorite topic of mine)

oven bake

to cook foods surrounded by hot dry air

oven broil

to cook with radiant heat from above

oven poach

to cook in the oven with a small amount of water or another liquid

pan broil

cooking food in a heavy pan without added fat and removing any fat that is produced as you cook the item

pan fry

to cook in a moderate amount of fat, uncovered


a cooking method where a product is wrapped in a special paper or foil and baked so that the food cooks in its own juices


to cook partially in a simmering or boiling liquid for a short period of time

parchment paper

a special, non-stick, silicone coated, heat resistant paper used in cooking


to preserve or flavor food in brine


a measurement of less than 1/16th of a teaspoon (same as dash")"


to squeeze a soft food item from a pastry bag to another food item, usually in a decorative manner


to remove the center seed from fruits


to cook very gently (slowly) in a liquid that is hot but not boiling or bubbling


to partially cook food before final cooking process


to heat an oven (or sometimes a pan) to a recommended temperature before cooking in it

pressure cooking

using steam under a locked lid to produce high temperatures to accomplish a fast cooking time


a cooking term used for the growth of yeast dough's rise


the action of mashing a food until it has a thick, smooth consistency; usually done by a blender or food processor or pushed through a colander


a very small dish used for individual portions


a dried food product is returned to its original form by adding a liquid, hot or cold


to cook by simmering or boiling until its volume is decreased in order to concentrate flavors


to stop the cooking process by submerging in or spraying with cold water; common with vegetables and pasta


to cook foods by surrounding them with hot, dry air in an oven (uncovered) or on a spit over an open fire

rolling boil

boiling water at very high heat so that even if stirred the water continues to boil (bubble)


a cooked mixture of flour and oil, fat or butter that is used to thicken liquids


a small bag usually made of cheesecloth containing herbs and spices and is placed into soups, stews, stocks and sauces while cooking for added flavor and is removed when the item is finished cooking


a yellow-orange spice made from the stigmas of purple crocus


a liquid that adds flavor and moisture to foods


to heat a liquid just below boiling with bubbles around the edges


very young onions picked when beds of onions need to be thinned. Both the shallot and the green onion, which have small bulbs, are also known as scallions


to bake food with a sauce or other liquid in a casserole


tenderizing meats or seafood by slicing with a knife


to seal in the juices of meat by quickly browning it on all sides in a very hot pan


enhancing the flavor of food by adding ingredients such as herbs and spices; cooking term also means to oil a pan and slowly warm it and then wipe it


to allow food to solidify


to tear or cut food into narrow strips


to remove the shells from clams and oysters; also to remove the husks from corn


to press a food through a strainer to break it up


to remove lumps from certain foods while aerating it


to gently cook food in a liquid over low heat so only tiny bubbles can be observed breaking the surface of the liquid

simple syrup

two parts water and one part sugar cooked together


removing fat or impurities that have risen to the top of a liquid being cooked


thin slices about 1/4 inch by 1/8 inch

smoking point

the temperature at which fat breaks down and starts smoking


to cook by direct contact with steam


a dowel-shaped tool used to sharpen knives


to soak dry ingredients in water or another liquid until the flavor is infused into the liquid


to gradually cook ingredients in a covered pot for a long time (until tender)


fast frying in a small amount of oil over very high heat while continuously stirring ingredients


the liquid that you have left after simmering bones, vegetables and seasonings in water or another liquid


to separate and reserve the liquid contents from a cooking process such as straining the liquid from the bones and vegetables for stock


dehydrated solids of concentrated flavor left in the bottom of a pan after cooking meats; adding water dissolves the sucs, creating the fond base liquid


to cook in a very small amount of fat over low heat (sometimes covered) without browning to release flavors and moisture


to slowly introduce a hot liquid or batter component to a mix containing eggs; to prevent cooking an egg-base through slow incorporation of a hot component that must be added to a dish containing eggs


reducing the thickness of a liquid by adding more liquid


mixing ingredients by gently tossing together with an upward motion


baked items that have no ingredients to give them volume (no yeast, no eggs, no baking powder for example)


an acidic sauce or dressing

water bath

setting a container in a pan of simmering water to keep it hot


to quickly mix air into ingredients; also the name of a cooking tool