A Comprehensive Glossary of Culinary Terms – K

Think you know every culinary term used in your kitchen? Get ready to think again.

Reading a recipe and aren’t sure about some of the ingredients, terms, and recipe techniques included?

Recipes can sometimes be a minefield of terms, jargon and foreign words. Even for the most gifted Chefs, there are terms in a recipe that make them stop and say “huh?”.

Don’t worry, we have compiled an extensive list of common culinary terms to help you out!

Some of the most common are defined here. Take a look at our list to get cooking.

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K


Kidney

A red offal, or variety meat. The kidneys of beef and veal are multi-lobed while pork and lamb are single-lobed. Young animals such as calves, heifers, and lamb have the most delicate flavour; pigs kidneys are rather strong in flavour while those of beef and sheep tend to be tough as well as strongly flavoured. In all cases, the membrane that surrounds the kidney must be removed so they do not shrink when cooked. Any blood vessels, together with the core of fat must also be removed. A good cook removes chicken kidneys before preparation; I have never seen it removed by a butcher. Looks like the mystery part is the kidneys. It also says that “The kidneys are normally left in when a broiler carcass is processed.”

King cake

A king cake (sometimes shown as kingcake, kings’ cake, king’s cake, or three kings cake) is a type of cake associated in a number of countries with the festival of Epiphany at the end of the Christmas season; in other places, it is associated with the pre-Lenten celebrations of Mardi Gras/Carnival.

Kipper

A whole herring, a small, oily fish, that has been split into a butterfly fashion from tail to head along the dorsal ridge, gutted, salted, or pickled, and cold-smoked over smouldering woodchips (typically oak).

Kirsch (or kirschwasser)

A fragrant, clear, colourless, unaged brandy traditionally made from double distillation of morello cherries (a dark-coloured cultivar of the sour cherry), used with fondue. However, it is now also made from other kinds of cherries. The cherries are fermented complete (that is, including their stones). Unlike cherry liqueurs and so-called “cherry brandies”, kirschwasser is not sweet.

Kissing Crust

The portion of an upper crust of a loaf of bread which has touched another loaf when baking.

Knead

To work and press dough with the palms of your hands or mechanically in a mixer fitted with a bread hook or in a bread machine, in a pressing and folding motion to form a pliable mass until it becomes smooth and elastic. This is an essential step in developing the gluten in many yeast bread, which gives bread its texture. To aid gluten production, many recipes use bread flour, which is higher in protein than all-purpose flour. By hand, kneading is done with a pressing-folding-turning action. First, the dough is pressed with the heels of both hands and pushed away from the body so the dough stretches out. The dough is then folded in half, given a quarter turn, and the process is repeated. Depending on the dough, the kneading time can range anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. During kneading, the gluten strands stretch and expand, enabling dough to hold in gas bubbles formed by a leavener, which allows it to rise. If bread dough is not kneaded enough, it will not be able to hold the tiny pockets of gas (CO2) created by the leavening agent (such as yeast or baking powder) and will collapse, leaving a heavy and dense loaf.

Kobe Beef

An exclusive grade of beef cattle produced in Japan. The production of this beef is very limited and extremely expensive to obtain. The cattle are subjected to a treatment of limited mobility, massaged with sake, and fed a selective diet that includes plentiful amounts of beer, resulting in extremely tender and full flavoured meat. The meat is a delicacy renowned for its flavour, tenderness, and fatty, well-marbled texture. Kobe beef can be prepared as steak, sukiyaki, shabu shabu, sashimi, and teppanyaki.

Kohlrabi

A German turnip or turnip cabbage. It is an annual vegetable and is a low, stout cultivar of cabbage. Kohlrabi can be eaten raw as well as cooked. Kohlrabi has a delicate turnip-like flavour and can be cooked in the same ways as turnips.

Kosher Salt (or Koshering salt)

A variety of edible salt with a much larger grain size than some common table salt with no additives that many cooks prefer for its light, flaky texture and clean taste. Kosher salt consists of the chemical compound sodium chloride but has a lower sodium content than regular salt. Find it next to salt in the supermarket.

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