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Cooking Glossary: Common Cooking Terms

Don’t know how to caramelize your onions? Does that make you feel insecure? Don’t fear good buddy, the boys from Brian’s Belly are here to help you out. Some of the more common cooking terms are listed here in order to get you through the kitchen fast and back to the dinner table where you belong.

Switch to the brewing glossary.


BASTE
When your cooking, your food will release it’s own natural juices over heat… it’s just like when us fat guys sweat when we’re hot. However unlike our sweat, brushing or spooning the meats natural juices or fat keeps the food from drying out and adds some flavor back.


BLANCH
To drop food into boiling water for a brief period of time to preserve color and texture or to loosen skins for peeling.


BRAISE
To brown food in fat and then slowly cook it with a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan. This method is best for tougher cuts of meat.


CARAMELIZE
When you sauté (fry), grill or roast vegetables, their own natural sugars are released and become a caramel-like syrup. This brown, sweet goo gives the vegetable a golden glaze and a sweet flavor.


CHOP
To cut food into bite sized pieces. In the homosidic blender of life, chop is above dice and mince, but below hacked.


CLARIFY
Don’t worry about it, none of our recipes will make you clarify liquid. It’s too much work.


CURE
A method of food preservation. The most common example used on our website would be salt curing of jerky, which removes water.


DEEP FRY
OK, you all know what frying is… deep frying is using enough oil to completely cover whatever you’ve thrown in there. Absolutely ANYTHING you can think of can be deep fried… onion rings, shoelaces, old CDs… ANYTHING! However, to achieve the best deep fried shoelaces (for example), you must pay careful attention to the temperature of the oil. A good average temperature is 375 – 400 degrees. Too hot would burn the shoelaces before they get a chance to cook on the inside. A pan that is not hot enough would allow your delicacy to absorb too much oil, resulting in greasy shoelaces.


DEVEIN
The act of removing the crap from the “intestine” of a shrimp. With a fillet knife or deveining tool and starting at the backside of the head, break or cut the outside layer of meat and remove the dark black vein. If there ain’t none, then he was probably scared shitless as he was hauled onto the shrimping boat. You can also do this to the underside of the shrimp and remove the white vein.


DICE
Cut into small pieces. We’d like to say dice-sized, but its actually smaller.


EMULSIFY
To bind together substances which under normal conditions will not mix, such as oil and water. Egg yolk is a commonly used emulsifier.


FILLET
Cutting away all the bones in your fish or meat.


FLAME
To paraphrase Homer Simpson, “I like my beer cold and my Caribou FLAMING.” When adding alcohol to a recipe what you really want is the flavor of the booze, not the booze itself (a travesty, we know). To accomplish this, chefs must know how to flame. Add the alcohol to your pan AWAY from the fire (to prevent explosion). Then using a match or the burner on the stove, by slightly tilting the pan, ignite your concoction. Warning, stand back, it’ll go up quickly. Since alcohol burns away at a temperature of 180 degrees F, it’ll begin to lose the booze right away. What you’ll have left is the flavor. Then you can go do a shot for a job well done.


GARLIC CLOVE
Garlic can purchased from the store a few ways… in powdered form, minced and jarred, and as a bulb fresh from the garlic tree. It is this bulbus form that contains the cloves. Each section that can be pulled off the bulb is a clove. So if a recipe asks for five chopped garlic cloves, pull five cloves off the bulb and chop ’em up.


GRILL
(v.) To cook food on a grill (see grill) over hot coals or at lease over hot propane passing through coals. The flames and intense heat create a crust on the surface of the food and seals in it’s own natural juices. See also sear. (n.) That rusted p.o.s. out in your backyard that you never cover or clean. We have very few rules at The Belly… one of them is clean your grill! That great grilled flavor comes from the charcoal below it, not the hot dog bits from two years ago stuck to the surface.


MARINATE
To soak yer beef, pork, shrimp, etc. in a seasoned liquid. Marinate is the act of marinading. Marinading adds flavor and tenderizes the food. You may feel the need to poke holes in the beef to let the liquid in, but this really isn’t a great idea. Just place the beef in a glass or stainless steel bowl (no plastic), add the marinade, cover and place it in the fridge.


MINCE
To cut your food up into really tiny pieces. Minced is smaller than diced.


POACH
To cook food in simmering liquid just below the boiling point.


REDUCE
To boil a liquid, uncovered, until the volume is reduced by evaporation, which thickens and intensifies the flavor.


ROAST
Oven cooking food in a… well, oven. This helps keep the juices in and browns your meat evenly.


SAUTÉ
A fancy name for frying.


SEAR
Tossing beef onto a hot grill or into a hot frying pan will cause it’s surface to cook and crisp quickly and seal all the foods juices inside. In case you don’t know by now, it’s all about the juices.


SEASON
To add flavor to foods. Aside from seasoning meats, fish, poultry, etc., you can season your brand new frying pan or pot! Yeah, believe it. Coat your new cookware with a bit of oil and heat it in an oven at 349 degrees for 59 minutes… these numbers are crucial (hah!)


SIMMER
The act of cooking at extremely low heat… the flame on your range should be set somewhere between medium and off (low?) to keep the pot or pan just hot enough that the contents percolate ever so slightly with tiny little bubbles coming up off the edges. Simmer is just below boil, and I hope you know how to boil.


SKEWER
The act of spearing chunks of food onto long, thin rods called skewers.


SMOKE
A method of food preservation back in the day, the process of exposing food to smoke created by burning various “flavors” of wood such as beech and oak, is now used to add distinguished taste to beef, fish and poultry.


OVEN
Large, square kitchen appliance, usually metallic in composition. Tends to hang out near the sink and the fridge. Not to be confused with the microwave which has, for the most part, replaced the oven in all single guys’ apartments.