Here you will find an in-depth description of popular culinary terms. Refer to this page if you are unsure of what a certain term means.
A La Carte: Menu in which items and beverages are priced individually
A Point: French term for cooking until the ideal degree of doneness. When referred to meat, it means medium rare.
Aerate: To incorporate air into a mixture by sifting or mixing.
Al Dente: Italian term meaning “to the tooth”. Used to describe mainly pasta that is cooked until a slight resistance when bitten into.
Albumen: Primary protein found in egg whites.
Au gratin: Food cooked with a browned or crusted top, often made with bread crumbs, cheese and/or sauce topping and cooked under a salamander/broiler.
Au Jus: Roasted meat, poultry or game served with their natural unthickened juices.
Bain Marie: Hot water bath used to gently cook food or keep food hot. Container for holding food in a hot water bath.
Ballontine: Boneless poultry leg stuffed with forcemeat and gently roasted/braised, traditionally shaped into a ball.
Barding: Tying thin slices of fat such as pork or bacon, over meats or poultry that have little fat to help keep moist.
Baste: To moisten foods using their natural juices periodically during cooking.
Blanching: To briefly submerge in simmering water, boiling water, or fat to assist in preparation of foods. Example: Tomato concassee.
Bouquet Garni: Fresh herbs and vegetables tied into a cheesecloth bundle and used to flavor sauces, soups, stocks, stews.
Brochette: Skewered hors d’oeuvres using meats, fish, shellfish, vegetables and grilled or broiled.
China cap/Chinois: A conical shaped strainer.
Concasse: Peeled, seeded and diced tomato
Deglaze: To swirl or stir in a liquid into a hot pan to lift away caramelized food particles.
Degrease: To remove fat from the surface of a liquid such as a stock or sauce by skimming the surface.
Dredging: To coat a food item in flour or ground crumbs prior to frying or sauteing.
Dress: To trim or clean an animal for cooking
FIFO: First In First Out. Inventory management system
Fillet: Removing the side of fish intact while removing all bones.
Flambe: Food flamed by use of alcohol for flavor.
Frenching: Trimming racks of rib or poultry so the bone is cleaned and prominent.
Glace de viande: Dark, syrupy meat glaze made by reducing beef stock.
Jacquarding: The process of poking holes into the muscle of meat in order to tenderize.
Jus lie: Can be called fond lie, sauce made by thickening brown stock using corn starch or similar starch.
Larding: Inserting thin slices of fat directly into meat product to infuse moisture.
Mince: To cut into very small pieces where uniformity or shape is not important.
Mise en Place: Meaning “Everything in place”, refers to the preparation and organization of ingredients and equipment.
Nappe: A certain consistency in liquid that coats the back of a spoon.
Needling: Injecting fat or flavors into an ingredient to enhance moisture or flavor.
Oignon Brule: French for burnt onion, made by charring onion halves. Used to flavor and color stocks & sauces.
Oignon Pique: Studding an onion with a bay leaf and cloves. Used in bechamel sauce.
Parboiling: To partial cook a food in simmering/boiling water. Similar to blanching, but cooked for longer.
Parcooking: Partially cooking food by any cooking method.
Paupiette: Thin slice of meat, poultry or fish spread with savory stuffing and rolled and braised or poached.
Professional Cooking: System of cooking that appreciates the proper techniques of ingredients and knowledge.
Raft: Crust formed during production of consomme.
Remouillage: The process of reusing bones for a second stock. French meaning “rewetting”.
Render: To transform solid fat into liquid form by use of heat.
Refreshing: Submerging a hot food item in cold water to quickly stop the cooking process. Also known as an icebath.
Ricer: Sievelike tool used to force soft foods through to evenly breakup the product, such as potatoes.
Rondeau: Shallow, wide, straight-sided pot with loop handles.
Roulade: Slic eof meat, poultry or fish rolled around a stuffing.
Sachet: Containing herbs and spices used to flavor stocks, soups and sauces. Easily removable.
Sauteuse: Basic sauteing pan with sloped sides and single long handle.
Sautoir: A variation of a saute pan with straight sides and long handle.
Savoury: Spied or seasoned foods, opposed to sweet.
Scald: To heat a liquid, usually milk to just below boiling.
Sear: Brown food quickly over high heat, done as a preparatory step for further methods such as braising or roasting.
Silverskin: Tough connective tissue that surrounds certain muscles.
Staling: Known as starch retrogradation, change in moisture within starch that causes products to turn firm, drier and more crumbly.
Steep: Soaking food in a hot liquid in order to extract flavor or remove impurities.
Sweat: To cook food in a pan, usually covered, without browning over low heat to encourage flavors to be extracted from vegetables and spices.
Sweetbreads: Thymus gland of calf or lamb.
Tempering: To slowly add hot liquid to eggs while stirring vigorously to slowly bring mixture up to temperature without curdling the eggs.
Tourner: To shape vegetables while peeling. Procedure is to peel, then shape.
Truss: Tying whole poultry or meat to encourage even cooking.
Water Bath: See Bain Marie
Whetstone: A special dense, grained stone used to sharpen or hone knives.
Zushi: The seasoned rice used in preparing sushi.