Culinary glossary

al dente

The term given to pasta or vegetables cooked until just tender but still retaining a little « bite », or crunch


Aromatic herb. The stalk is candied and used as a decoration for cakes and desserts


Remains of sugar cane from which the juice has been extracted, used as a fuel


A gentle method of cooking or heating food, by placing the dish of food to be cooked inside another containing hot water, so the food does not come into direct contact wih the heat


A division on a hydrometer scale, used to measure the density in degrees, at a specific temperature, of sugar syrups. Named after its inventor


Bavarian velvety cream dessert

beurre manié

A thickening agent made of equal quantities of flour and blutter kneaded together. Added to soups and savoury sauces

beurre noisette

Butter heated until it turns a nut-brown colour

bind / thicken

The use of eggs, cream, flour or cornflour to thicken a liquid and obtain a smooth consistency


To immerse food, usually fruit and vegetables, briefly in boiling water, in order to preserve the colour or tenderise them slightly

blind (to bake)

To bake a pastry case (puff or short crust), without the filling. The pastry base is usually covered with baking parchment and weighted with dried beans or ceramic baking beads to prevent it rising


A type of fish found in the waters around the Seychelles, related to the grouper


To cook slowly in a closed receptacle, in a small amount of liquid


Fruit or vegetables cut into very small dice of 1-2 mm


To cook to release natural sugars or until reaching a brown colour


A fine conical strainer for straining sauces, purées, soups, etc.

chocolate couverture

A type of chocolate with a high cocoa butter content usual in pastry making and confectionery

clarified butter

Butter melted, and then filtered, to remove impurities such as salt


To remove the bitter-tasting gut from a crayfish by pulling out the media lamina

core temperature

To ensure that a dish, a terrine for example, is thoroughly cooked by testing the centre with a cooking thermometer


A liquid purée derived from the natural juices of shellfish, vegetables or fruit


Stock made of water, white wine and seasoning used as a liquid in which to poach fish or shellfish


Used extensively in Japanese cooking, dashi is a soup stock made with dried bonito tuna flakes and water


To utilise juices from cooking to make a gravy or sauce by adding water, wine or a similar liquid to a pan, and scraping the residues from the base


A dish of boned, stuffed and braised poultry (particularly duck) or meat. Served hot, or cold in aspic, sliced thickly


To prepare fish, poultry, or game before cooking


Very finely chopped button mushrooms, sweated in butter, used as a base for numerous stuffings


To whisk ingredients until they are fully incorporated and form a smooth preparation


A type of pasta

fluff / loosen

To separate grains of rice or couscous using a fork


A reduced mixture of vinegar and sugar used in the preparation of hot sauces accompanying dishes made with fruit, such as duck with orange


To brush pastry or dough with beaten egg yolk to obtain an attractive golden colour after cooking

glazed (vegetables)

To cook vegetables with water, salt and sugar, reducing the liquid until the result is a syrup, which coats the vegetables and makes them shine


Strips of filleted fish


A mixture of syrup and alcohol, frozen and then broken up repeatedly until it forms loose ice crystals. Often served to cleanse the palate between courses, or as a dessert

gratin dauphinois forestier

Seasoned, sliced potatoes baked in cream with cheese and wild mushrooms


A method of decorating cakes


To add an aromatic substance to a boiling liquid so that the flavour is imparted to the liquid


Vegetables or fruit shredded into matchstick-thin pieces


Fermented, macerated vegetables (cabbage, celery, tunrips, cucumber) heavily spiced with garlic, onion, chilli and ginger to form a relish. This is one of the most important foods in Korea


A hot, savoury hors-d’œuvre consisting of finely diced ingredients bound in a thick sauce (salpicon) and shaped into croquettes that are not coated in breadcrumbs

let dow / loosen

To add liquid to a preparation to make it softer or runnier


See: fluff


A liquid rich in condiments, in which different types of food can be soaked, for different lengths of time, to soften or flavour them


To soak an ingredient in a liquid or syrup so that it becomes impregnated with the flavour


A big fish, inhabiting tropical seas, related to the swordfish


A flavourful combination of roughly diced carrots and onions added to meat during cooking

monosodium glutamate

A flavour-enhancing chemical compound, the sodium salt of glutamic acid, widely used in the food-processing industry and also in Asian cuisine


Fine cotton fabric used for straining purées, sauces, etc.


A type of pasta


A thin escalope of veal or beef that has been flattened out and grilled or pan-fried

palate cleanser

The French custom, during a complex meal, of consuming a shot of spirits usually contained in a sorbet, to aid digestion and stimulate the appetite before the next course


An Indian flaky bread


A cut of meat marinated for a long time with pepper and spices, lightly smoked and then cooked in the oven


To cook a food slowly in a gently simmering liquid

pommes boulangères

A gratin of sliced potatoes, baked in milk and stock


A dumpling made with finely chopped meat, fish or poultry, which is moulded into a small sausage or egg shape and poached in boiling water


To make a liquid thicker by boiling it until it evaporates


To put hot or cold ingredients to one side, for use later


The base for many soups and sauces, made by melting butter and adding flour, which is then cooked, stirring all the time, until the flour is fully incorporated and cooked out. The length of time for which the flour is cooked before adding the liquid determines whether the roux is white, blond or brown


An aromatic herb


To start cooking meat in fat over a moderate heat so it changes colour, without browning

sieve / sift

To strain an ingredient through a sieve to remove lumps, seeds, skin, etc.


To remove excess fat that rises to the top of a dish during or after cooking


To soak dry ingredients in liquid until the flavour is infused into the liquid


To cook slowly and gently until most or all of the liquid is absorbed and the ingredients develop a soft consistency and start to break down


An aromatic liquid used to make gravies and sauces. Stock is referred to as « white » if the ingredients are added direct to the cooking liquid. If the ingredients are browned first before adding the liquid, it is called « brown »


Cooked ingredients (meat, chicken livers or vegetables) bound together in a thick sauce with eggs, shaped into croquettes, and balked in the oven


To sauté an ingredient gently in fat, without browning, to enhance its flavour


Purée of capers, black olives, anchovies and herbs, from southern France


See: bind


An earthenware cooking pot


A layered dish cooked in a tall mould (timbale) and then turned out. Often made of rice layered with vegetables


To cook without the addition of fat, either under a grill, in an oven or in a dry pan, so the ingredient develops a light golden colour or the flavour is intensified


To beat a batter or other preparation until it forms a trail on the surface of the mixture, which lasts a few seconds, when the spoon or whisk is lifted out


To remove the gristle and tendons from a piece of meat

turn out

To empty the ingredients for a dish, or finished bakery products, into a receptacle so they can cool, or to reserve them for use later


One of the five « mother sauces », velouté is a stock-based white sauce. It can be made from chicken or veal stock or fish fumet thickened with white roux. Velouté sauce is the base for a number of other sauces


A tropical fish, found in the Carribean and around the coast of Africa, related to the sea bream


Type of a large crayfish


A light and fluffy sauce made of egg yolks, sugar and alcohol whisked over a saucepan of boiling water, or in a double boiler