Here's a little cooking tip post to help clarify some of those terms. First, there are only two main methods of cooking; dry heat and moist heat. But within those two categories there are a variety of styles that are used for a variety of reasons!
I hope this little tutorial will help you understand the terms a little better and aid in your foodie experience. If anyone would like to contribute or even correct me I welcome comments from more experienced food lovers so don't hesitate to add your pinch of expertise!
DRY HEAT COOKING
Used for more premium cuts of meats, this cooking method includes broiling, charcoal broiling and roasting. Below are the basic dry heat cooking methods:
- Roasting - Cooking by enveloping in hot dry air. This term is used mostly for meats, poultry and vegetables.
- Baking - Cooking by enveloping in hot dry air. This term is used for breads, pastries and fish.
- Broiling - Cooking by close exposure to an open flame. The heat is above the food.
- Grilling - Cooking by close exposure to an open flame. The heat is below the food.
- Deep Frying - Yes, this is considered a form of dry cooking! Submerging food in hot, liquid fat heated from 325 - 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Sautéing - From the French word sauter (to jump) it means to fry in a small amount of fat over a high heat in a shallow pan. The pan and the fat must be heated before adding the food, the pan should not be crowded because the food must be tossed constantly during the whole cooking process. (Remember this term comes from a word that means "to jump"!)
- Pan-Frying - Pan frying uses a larger measure of fat and lower cooking temperatures allowing for cooking larger pieces of food. Often pan fried foods are finished off in the oven to cook them through.
- Pan Searing: Using a high heat, this method is used to put a caramelized browning on foods before being roasted in the oven or braised.
Used for lower grade cuts of meat this method helps tenderize because it uses lower temperatures and longer cooking times. Below are the basic moist heat cooking methods:
- Braising - Used often for larger, tough but more premium cuts of meat because the low heat and slow cook tenderize, braising involves first searing the food, then it is partially covered with liquid and simmered slowly at a relatively low temperature.
- Stewing - This is similar to braising, however, this method is reserved for smaller pieces of the least expensive cuts of meat. With a stew the braising/stewing liquid covers the meat/vegetables completely and the braising liquid is usually served with the meats/vegetables.
- Poaching - Cooking in liquid with temperatures ranging from 140°F to 180°F, typically reserved for cooking very delicate items like eggs and fish.
- Simmering - Cooking in liquid that's a bit hotter than poaching — from 180°F to 205°F. Best for stocks or soups, starchy items such as potatoes or pastas.
- Boiling - is where the water reaches its highest possible temperature of 212°F. Because of the agitation caused by the boiling this is not a method of cooking that is used often as it can damage the food being boiled!
- Steaming - Once water is heated past the 212°F mark, it stops being water and turns into steam. The advantage of steaming food is that you get the high temperatures of boiling but there is no agitation. Also with steaming the nutrients in the food do not leach out into a cooking liquid. (BTW, with a pressure cooker you can actually get the heat higher than boiling water which speeds up cooking times.)
FOOD DICTIONARY SEARCH TOOL at Cooks Recipes
FOOD DICTIONARY SEARCH TOOL at Epicurious
Bon appétit! Buon appetito! Enjoy!
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