A few weeks ago, I had a friend come over to discuss business matters and I just happened to be cooking. I served her up a taste and she asked me how I made the chicken. I started to tell her and she stopped me and said - '"Uzo. What is all this saute business? Isn't it just putting the chicken in the pan?" That got me thinking.
I take it for granted that everyone knows their way around the kitchen simply because I have been a kitchenista since I was 10.
The Kitchen Lingo series on the blog will be dedicated to breaking down terms and techniques frequently used in cookbooks and recipes. I hope this encourages people who are put off from trying recipes because they don't understand some of the terms and even help get better results by following the correct steps.
Cooking methods are so very important because different foods work better using different methods - especially meats. Here are few of the most common cooking methods that you will see in cookbooks and recipes:
- Roast: This refers to a method of cooking food with dry heat - usually in an oven and usually uncovered. Some recipes will direct you to start roasting with parts of the meat (usually poultry) covered with foil and then removed at some point in the cooking process. There are also specific roasting pans sold that allow multiple items to be roasted at the same time and allow fat to drip away
- Braise: This method uses a combination of dry and moist heat. Food is usually placed in a very hot pan to sear it (give color and seal in juices) and then liquid added and pan covered to finish off the cooking process. If you see a recipe with the words pot roast in it - this is usually the cooking method used. Slow cookers and pressure cookers are tools used in this method. This method is usually used to cook foods that are tough or need long cooking times like - oxtails, beans etc
- Saute: Usually involves cooking food in a shallow open pan using a small amount of oil/fat over high heat.
- Grill: This involves cooking food with direct dry heat (from above or below) using any number of tools including wire mesh grills, barbeque grills, grill pans or even your oven. The term broil falls under this cooking method and there are broiler pans sold for this purpose
- Steam: This method of cooking involves placing the food in a basket or receptacle on top and water below and covered. The boiling water releases steam that cooks food gently without loss of color and nutrients. Perfect for cooking vegetables. Also good for warming up foods like moin-moin, suya etc.
- Stir-Fry: Usually seen in Asian recipes. A wok is essential for this cooking method and it is a super fast way of cooking. Very little oil is used and very high temperatures are required as well as constant stirring so the food does not burn. Food to be cooked using this method should be cut in uniform pieces to ensure even cooking.
- Pan-Fry: Food is cooked in a pan with a very small amount of oil/fat in tis method and is good for thin pieces of food. Recipes for breaded or coated foods usually require cooking with this method
- Deep-Frying: Is a cooking method that requires food to be submerged in very hot oil. Contrary to what most people think, this process does not automatically mean greasy food if done properly. If the oil is very hot, the moisture content in the food repels the oil. The food should also not sit in the oil for longer than necessary. Deep fryers and deep frying pans are tools for this cooking method.