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.
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
A small oblong pastry made with choux dough that is filled with cream and topped with icing. The dough, which is the same as that used for profiterole, is typically piped into an oblong shape with a pastry bag and baked until it is crisp and hollow inside. Once cool, the pastry then is filled with vanilla, coffee or chocolate-flavoured custard (crème pâtissière), or with whipped cream, or chiboust cream; and then iced with fondant icing. Other fillings include pistachio and rum-flavoured custard, fruit-flavoured fillings, or chestnut purée. The icing is sometimes caramel, in which case the dessert may be called a bâton de Jacob.
To remove the string from a string bean or to thinly slice almonds.
Eggnog (or Egg nog or Egg milk punch)
A Christmas chilled, sweetened, a dairy-based beverage consisting of milk and/or cream, ice cream, beaten eggs (which gives it a frothy texture), sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and spirits such as brandy, rum or bourbon. The best eggnog requires separating the eggs and beating the yolks with 1/2 the sugar and whipping the whites with 1/2 the sugar to make meringue, folding all together with an electric mixer or blender! The finished serving is often garnished with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon or nutmeg. Eggnog with strong alcohol content keeps well and is often considered to improve when aged for up to a year (as long as it is refrigerated). Eggnog is often provided to guests in a large punch bowl, from which cups of eggnog are ladled.
Eggplant (or Aubergine)
A vegetable-fruit with tender, mildly earthy, sweet flesh. The shiny skins of eggplants vary in colour from purple to red and from yellow to white, and their shapes range from small and oval to long and slender to large and pear-shaped. An Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, along with the potato and tomato, making it a fruit (eaten as a vegetable)! It is actually a berry growing on a long vine. There are many varieties grown and eaten around the world. Sizes are 2 to 12 inches.
Egg Roll Skins
Pastry wrappers used to encase a savoury filling and make egg rolls. Look for these products in the produce aisle of the supermarket or at Asian markets. Egg roll skins are similar to, but larger than, wonton skins.
Eggs are one of the most important items in cooking! All eggs should be free of cracks, leaks or holes. Very fresh high-quality eggs stand up more when cooked, while older eggs spread out more. The colour of the yolk depends on the hen’s diet. The egg colour, white or brown depends on the breed of the hen, it has nothing to do with nutritional value or taste. Eggs must always be refrigerated. Pasteurized liquid eggs (easy eggs) are beaten together and heated up without cooking to kill any bacteria and then packaged for sale. Keep in mind that you should avoid eating foods that contain raw eggs. Eggs should be cooked until both the yolk and white are firm; scrambled eggs should not be runny. Cook casseroles and other dishes that contain eggs until they register 71°C (160°F) on a food thermometer. If you have a recipe that calls for eggs to be raw or undercooked (such as Caesar salads and homemade ice cream), use shell eggs that are clearly labelled as having been pasteurized to destroy salmonella; these are available at some retailers. Or use a widely available pasteurized egg product. If you have a recipe that calls for egg whites to be raw or undercooked, use pasteurized dried egg whites or pasteurized refrigerated liquid egg whites. For cake recipes, allow eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before using. If the cake recipe calls for separated eggs, separate them immediately after removing them from the refrigerator and use them within 30 minutes. For all other recipes, use eggs straight from the refrigerator.
Egg Wash is a mixture of egg yolks and/or whites beaten sometimes mixed with another liquid, usually water or milk, which is brushed onto the surface of a pastry before baking. They are also used to brush over bread, cakes and pies to give them colour and a shiny sealed glaze. Egg washes can also be used on calzones or on fish.
Egg Whites, Dried
Pasteurized dried egg whites can be used where egg whites are needed; follow package directions for reconstituting them. Unlike raw egg whites, which must be thoroughly cooked before serving to kill harmful bacteria, pasteurized dried egg whites can be used in recipes that do not call for egg whites to be thoroughly cooked. Keep in mind that meringue powder may not be substituted, as it has added sugar and starch. Find dried egg whites in powdered form in the baking aisle of many supermarkets and through mail-order sources.
A French term meaning to wrap an article of food which is to be poached or simmered in stock. The food item is usually wrapped in cheesecloth to hold it together. It also refers to the filling of a mould to be cooked, such as paté.
To slice thinly, similar to julienne style, but not as long.
To combine two liquid or semiliquid ingredients, such as oil and vinegar, which don’t naturally dissolve into each other. One way to do this is to gradually add one ingredient to the other while whisking rapidly with a fork or wire whisk. This action disperses tiny droplets of one liquid in the other. Mayonnaise and vinaigrettes are emulsions. Use a good whisk for steady even emulsification.
An emulsion is a mixture of two or more liquids that are normally immiscible (unmixable). In an emulsion, one liquid (the dispersed phase) is dispersed in the other (the continuous phase). Examples of emulsions include vinaigrettes, milk, and mayonnaise.
See Belgian endive.
A French term meaning “between the ribs”. It is the tender, highly marbled premium cut taken from the boned set of ribs of beef used for steaks.
In America, it’s the main course of a meal, but in Europe, when referred to a full French menu, it is the third course, which refers to the dish served before the meat course during formal dinners. With a trend towards a reduction in the number of courses, today’s menus usually centre on the main dish preceded by an appetizer course.
A Spanish dish consisting of fish marinated for approximately one day in a sauce of olive oil, vinegar, herbs, vegetables, and spices, and then poached or fried and served cold as an appetizer.
Escalope (or Escallope)
French word meaning a piece of boneless white meat, usually veal, that has been thinned out using a mallet, rolling pin or beaten with the handle of a knife, or merely butterflied. The mallet breaks down the fibres in the meat, making it tenderer, while the thinner meat cooks faster with less moisture loss. The meat is then coated (usually slightly floured or breaded) and fried/sauteed.
In cooking, espagnole sauce is one of Auguste Escoffier’s five mother sauces that are the basis of sauce-making in classic French cooking. These types of sauce were already gathered in different Spanish cooking handbooks of the late 19th century. Escoffier popularized the recipe, which is still followed today.
A dark strong coffee that’s made by forcing steam through a small amount of finely ground pressed special coffee beans. Served in a tiny espresso cup. The addition of heated cream or milk makes this a Cappuccino.
Eviscerate (or Evisceration)
To remove the viscera (internal organs, especially those in the abdominal cavity) from a carcass.
Extracts and Oils
Products based on the aromatic essential oils of plant materials that are distilled by various means. In extracts, the highly concentrated oils are usually suspended in alcohol to make them easier to combine with other foods in cooking and baking. Almond, anise, lemon, mint, orange, peppermint, and vanilla are some commonly available extracts.
Some undiluted oils are also available, usually at pharmacies. These include oil of anise, oil of cinnamon, oil of cloves, oil of peppermint, and oil of wintergreen. Do not try to substitute oils for ground spices in recipes. Oils are so concentrated that they’re measured in drops, not teaspoons. Oil of cinnamon, for example, is 50 times stronger than ground cinnamon. You can, however, substitute 1 or 2 drops of oil for 1/2 teaspoon extract in frosting or candy recipes.
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