A Comprehensive Glossary of Culinary Terms – L

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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L


Lactobacillus

Type of bacteria which produces lactic acid. Literally milk bacteria, a bacterium usually found in fermenting products, such as yoghurts.

Lard

A product made from pork fat that is sometimes used for baking. It’s especially noted for producing light, flaky piecrusts. Today, shortening is commonly used instead of lard. In Italy, it is used mainly (either minced or in whole pieces) to prepare various kinds of sauces and soups, to cook vegetables and legumes, or to lard beef or poultry. Hog-butchers prepare it during the slaughtering process and preserve it in salt. In order to remove any excess of salt, lard should be blanched by placing it in cold water, bringing it to a boil and then letting it cool entirely under cold running water. It is a semi-soft white fat with a high saturated fatty acid content and no trans fats, and refined lard is usually sold as paper-wrapped blocks. Being a product obtained from a pig, it is not an acceptable food ingredient in some cultures.

Larding

The process of inserting, using a utensil called a larding needle, strips of fat (lardons) or bacon in gashes made in a piece of meat that doesn’t have as much fat to melt and keep the meat from drying out; or to place slices of fat on top of uncooked lean meat or fish for flavour or to prevent dryness. Larding makes the cooked meat more succulent and tender.

Lardons (or Lardoon or Larding needle)

Juienne of bacon. Small strips or cube of salt pork fat (usually subcutaneous fat) used in a wide variety of cuisines to flavour savoury foods and salads. A French term referring to bacon or other fatty substances that have been cut into narrow strips and either cooked or used to lard meats. In French cuisine, lardons are also used for larding, by threading them with a needle into meats that are to be braised or roasted. Lardons are not normally smoked, and they are made from pork that has been cured with salt.

Leavenings

Ingredients essential in helping batter and dough expand or rise during baking. If omitted, the baked product will be heavy and tough. See specific ingredients, such as yeast, baking powder, and baking soda, for more information.

Leek

Sweet, moderately flavoured edible plant member of the onion family, long and cylindrical in shape with a pale white root and dark green leaves.

Lentil

Small, disk-shaped dried legumes, prized for their rich, earthy flavour when cooked.

Lemon balm (or Balm Or Common balm or Balm mint)

Bushy perennial Old World mint having small white or yellowish flowers and fragrant lemon-flavoured leaves; a garden escapee in northern Europe and North America

Lemongrass

A highly aromatic, lemon-flavour herb often used in Asian cooking. Thick, rough pale green stalks with a citrus flavour and scent. To use, trim the fibrous ends and slice what remains into 3 to 4-inch sections. Use only the tender inner white portion. Cut each section in half lengthwise, exposing the layers. Rinse pieces under cold water to remove any grit, and slice the lemongrass thinly. In a pinch, substitute 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel for 1 tablespoon lemongrass. Known as sereh (or serai Indonesian and Malaysian), takrai (Thai), xa (Vietnamese). You can substitute an equal amount of grated lemon zest moistened with a bit of fresh lemon juice.

Liaison

A binding agent of cream and egg yolks used to thicken soups or sauces.

Light Cream

Also called coffee cream or table cream. It usually contains about 18-20% milk fat and cannot be whipped.

Line

To cover the bottom and sides of a pan, mold or terrine with a thin layer of bacon, pork fat, flavourings or pastry. Cake pans are frequently lined with parchment paper to prevent the cake from sticking to the pan after baking.

Loin

The meat section of an animal that comes from the area on both sides of the backbone extending from the shoulder to the leg, or from the rib to the leg as in beef and lamb. The anatomical reference also carries over into the description of cuts of meat from some such animals, e.g. tenderloin or sirloin steak.

London Broil

A term used in North American to describe both a dish and a cut of meat. Large pieces of flank steak (from the lower hindquarters) or top round (from the inner portion of the hind leg) are cut into pieces, marinated, grilled, or broiled, and then sliced across the grain into thin strips. Many thick cuts of meat, including top round and sirloin tip, are labelled “London broil”. The origin of the name is obscure; the dish is unknown in the city of London, England.

Luau

A Hawaiian traditional feast which usually revolves around the roasting of a whole pig. The celebration and ceremonies are held in combination with dance, music, and song. It may feature food such as poi, kalua pig, poke, Lomi salmon, opihi, haupia and beer, and entertainment such as traditional Hawaiian music and hula. Among people from Hawai‘i, the concepts of “luau” and “party” are often blended, resulting in graduation luau, wedding luau and birthday luau. It’s also a Hawaiian dish containing taro leaves baked with coconut cream and chicken or octopus.

Lukewarm

Slightly warm, neither cool nor warm; approximately body temperature, usually between 36-40°C(98-105°F).

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