Back to Basics 4: Feel like recipes are written in a different language?

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Today I want to shed some light on those mysterious food words you read all about when looking over recipes.

If you have no idea what sauté, simmer and sous-vide mean, then don’t stress because today is the day that you’ll learn what they all mean.

Cooking Techniques Glossary

Common word

Meaning Alternative words


To combine food, usually in the context of combining ingredients in an electronic mixer or with a whisk during the early stages of making baked goods.

Whisk, mix, fold


To cook food quickly in boiling hot water
for 1-2 minutes before running the food under cold water.


To heat water so that large bubbles
burst the surface of the water rapidly.


To cook food for a long time in a small amount
of water, such as when cooking meat in a casserole, stew or tagine.


To cut food into
smaller pieces.

Julienne – to chop into thin match stick shapes.

Cube – to chop into cube shapes (3D squares).

Slice – to chop into thin pieces that are the shape
of the food being cut (usually circles or rectangles but can be any shape).

Deep fry

To cook food in enough hot oil so that the food is submerged (covered by the oil).



To brush liquid over the top of food. Often refers to brushing a marinade over the top of a piece of meat.


To finely shred food. Most often this is done using a grater; a handheld kitchen tool with sharp holes along which you drag the food to shred it.


Direct heat such as on a pan on the stove or cooking in the barbecue.

Broil, fry, dry fry,
pan fry, barbecue.


To push dough over and onto itself using the heel of your hand until the dough becomes elastic and easier to work with.


To cover the uncooked food in flavours that
will then penetrate the food and retain this flavour once cooked.

Marinades are usually wet flavour combinations
(i.e. use yoghurt, lemon juice or oil as a base along with herbs and spices).

Rubs are dry marinades
and are usually just made
of spices, herbs or nuts ground down.


To combine foods together.

Toss, fold, blend, combine.


To cook food when it is covered by water or other liquids. The food cooks submerged under the hot liquid for the duration
of the cooking time.


To blend a food that
has been cooked and softened into a paste or a sauce like consistency.

Blend, liquidize.


To lessen the amount of liquid in the fry pan. This is often done using a high heat to make the water content evaporate and the flavour more intense.


To let meat sit on the bench covered in foil for 5-15 minutes (depending on type and size of meat).

This is best done for steaks and roasted meats as they cook in a dry heat and the resting period allows the moisture to return to the meat.


To cook food in the oven for a long time. Roasting is done in a dry heat.


To cook food fast and at a high heat when using a fry pan or saucepan on the stove.


Shallow fry

To cook food in a
small amount of oil (this could be a tablespoon of oil up to a cup of oil but usually no more).


To put the heat on its lowest setting while a pot or pan is on the stove.


To cook food in a plastic bag submerged in hot/boiling water. (You must use a food safe plastic bag that the air has been completely removed from to do this).

Steam To cook food using the steam created when boiling water. This is usually done by placing a basket with holes in it over the top of a pot of boiling water. The food sits in the basket and are cooked by the steam.


Other Glossarys

Other resources that can help you are:


Feeling less confused now? I hope so, but if you’re not reach out and ask me a question via Facebook, Twitter or Google+ using ghe buttons below and I’ll do my best to answer it for you.


3 thoughts on “Back to Basics 4: Feel like recipes are written in a different language?

    • Marielle says:

      Thanks for the feedback William, I really appreciate it. I hope I’ve been able to answer a few of your burning questions so far. 🙂

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