Sometimes you come across a word in a recipe and you know exactly what it means. And sometimes, you kind of have to guess from context. Here are a few common kitchen words and what they really mean (related terms are in the parentheses).
Al Dente – cooked to a firm texture, usually in reference to pasta. From the Italian for “to the tooth”, signifying that while it is cooked, it’s still firm enough to chew.
Boil – a method of cooking in water that is at least 212ºF. A roiling boil will have constant movement in the pot, while a simmering boil will just have gentle occasional movement.
Chop – to prepare food by cutting it into pieces (see also Dice and Mince).
Dice – to prepare food by cutting it into small pieces (see also Chop and Mince).
Fold – to gently add an ingredient to a bowl of previously combined ingredients. Usually used in baking recipes to add a final ingredient to the mix (see also Stir and Whisk).
Fry – to cook in a layer of hot fat, usually an oil (see also Sauté).
Mince – to prepare food by cutting it into very small pieces, sometimes with the help of a food processor (see also Chop and Dice).
Poach – to cook in barely boiling water, usually in reference to eggs.
Roast – to cook with a coating of fat in the oven.
Roux – a paste of fat and thickener (usually flour) that is the base for a white sauce, or béchamel
Sauté – to fry quickly in a small amount of fat (see also Fry).
Sear – to brown meat quickly over high heat. Usually used to start cooking meat to seal in flavor, followed by a different cooking method.
Simmer – to cook just below the boiling point (see also Boil and Poach).
Stir – to mix ingredients together (see also Fold and Whisk).
Whisk – to mix ingredients together with a special tool to add air to the batter (see also Fold and Stir).
Need a quick reminder for these kitchen terms to stick on your fridge? Grab your free printable here: Common Kitchen Terms Free Printable.