Basic Cooking Terms Everyone Should Know
Whether you are living alone for the first time or taking on more responsibility at home, handling the cooking duties can be difficult at first. It’s critical to understand basic cooking terms and directions so that recipes don’t look like they are written in a foreign language. Here are some basic cooking terms everyone should know.
Breading. This is a very basic cooking method that is used for meals such as fried chicken and veal parmigiana. To make the process easier, create a breading station with three bowls. One is filled with flour, one contains eggs that have been whisked and the third has the bread crumbs. Coat the meat lightly with flour and then place in the beaten eggs. This helps the flour to stick and will also attract the bread crumbs – the final step before placing the meat in a pan to cook.
Chopped, diced and minced. Understanding the difference between these three cooking instructions can be crucial to the success of your meal. Some recipes will provide the dimensions when requiring that food or a garnish is to be cut up. Many times, however, that is not the case. Chopped usually means squares that are between ½-inch to ¾-inch in size. When the recipe calls for dicing, that means whatever is being cut should be about half the size of something that is chopped. Minced is the very smallest size and requires that you end up with the smallest pieces possible with the help of a good knife.
Boil and simmer. There are many recipes that will require you to boil something and then whatever is in the pot must then simmer for a period of time. Boiling water involves raising the temperature to at least 212 degrees, at which time the water will start bubbling. Simmering requires that the water be raised to a boil at first and then the heat is reduced to about 180 or 200 degrees – still very hot, but only hot enough for one or two bubbles to be present.
Marinate. When a recipe calls for food to be marinated, the goal is usually to either tenderize or to enhance the flavor – or both. It is common for steaks to be marinated, for example. Prepare the marinate or liquid with the seasonings and spices that are listed in the recipe. Often, this includes vinegar, lemon juice or wine. The longer you marinate food, the more the flavors can soak in. Often, meats are marinated overnight in advance of the preparation of a meal.