Here is a glossary of culinary terms starting with the letter D
Dash is a small amount of seasoning that is added to food. It is generally between 1/16 and 1/8 teaspoon.
Dashi is a Japanese cooking stock made from dried kelp and fish flakes, used as a base for many soups, such as miso soup.
Daube is a French term for braising meat in red wine stock well-seasoned with herbs. Daube is a classic Provençal (or, more broadly, French) stew made with inexpensive beef braised in wine, vegetables, garlic, and herbes de Provence and traditionally cooked in a daubière, a braising pan. The meat used in daube is cut from the shoulder and back of the bull, though some suggest they should be made from three cuts of meat: the “gelatinous shin for body, short ribs for flavour, and chuck for firmness.” Although most modern recipes call for red wine, a minority call for white, as do the earliest recorded daube recipes.
A traditional daubière is a terracotta pot that resembles a pitcher with a concave lid. Water is poured on the lid, which condenses the moisture inside, allowing for the long cooking required to tenderize lesser cuts of meat.
Decant is carefully pouring a liquid, such as wine or stock, from one container to another, leaving any sediments or impurities behind.
Deep-frying is a cooking method where food is submerged in hot oil to achieve a crispy and golden exterior. This technique is commonly used in culinary settings to prepare french fries, chicken wings, or doughnuts. The oil’s high heat quickly cooks the food, while the oil itself creates a barrier that seals in moisture, resulting in a distinct texture and flavour. Deep-frying requires careful temperature control and proper handling to ensure the food is cooked evenly and doesn’t become greasy.
Degrease (or Defatting or Fat trimming)
Degrease is to remove fat from a liquid’s surface, such as stock, stews, soups, or sauce. It is usually cooled in the refrigerator to harden fat and easily remove it.
Deglaze (or Deglazing)
Deglaze is to add liquid, such as wine, lemon juice, vinegar or broth, to a hot pan or skillet used for cooking meat or vegetables and stirring to dissolve the browned bits stuck to the pan. This creates a flavourful sauce.
Dégustation is a tasting menu or a small sample of multiple dishes or ingredients to evaluate and appreciate their flavours.
Demi-glace, a French term meaning “half-glaze,” is a rich and flavourful sauce made by reducing and combining equal parts of brown stock and brown sauce. It is traditionally made by combining equal parts of veal stock and espagnole sauce, the latter being one of the five mother sauces of classical French cuisine, and the mixture is then simmered and reduced by half to a thickness that coats the back of a spoon. The intense flavour of demi-glace is used as a base for many other small sauces.
Devein is to remove the blackish-grey vein (intestinal) from the back of a shrimp or other crustacean. The vein can be removed with a special utensil called a deveiner or with the tip of a sharp knife. Small and medium shrimp need deveining for aesthetic purposes only. However, because the veins in large shrimp contain grit, they should always be removed.
Deviled is to prepare food, typically eggs or meat, with a highly seasoned mixture or sauce.
Dice is a knife skill that cuts food into tiny (1/8 to 1/4 inch) cubes of uniform size and shape. The exact measurement changes, but the shape is always a small square.
Digestif is a drink, typically alcoholic, usually served after a meal.
Dijon mustard is a type of smooth and tangy mustard made with white wine or vinegar.
Dill is fine, feathery leaves and seeds with a sweet aromatic flavour sold fresh or dry and used to flavour food.
Dilute is to reduce a mixture’s strength or thickness by adding liquid, making the liquid mixture thinner or weaker.
Dip is to immerse food briefly in a liquid or dry mixture to coat, cool, or moisten it.
Direct grilling is quickly cooking food directly over the heat source on a grill rack. A charcoal grill is often left uncovered, while a gas grill is generally covered.
Disher is a utensil with a spring-loaded handle and a round, bowl-shaped scoop to portion out consistent amounts of food, such as cookie dough or ice cream.
Disjoint is a cooking term meaning to separate meats at the joint. Separating the drumstick from the thigh of poultry would be an example.
Dissolve is the process of incorporating a solid ingredient into a liquid until it is thoroughly mixed or combined. In some cases, heat may be needed for the solid to dissolve. Dissolving is an important technique in cooking and baking, as it ensures even distribution of flavours and ingredients in a recipe.
Dock is to prick the dough with a fork before baking to prevent it from blistering or rising too much.
Dollop is a small amount (a spoonful) or portion of sauce, cream, or other soft food, often served on top of a dish as a garnish or flavour accent. Yogurt, whipped cream and mashed potatoes are all examples of foods that can be dolloped.
Dot is to scatter butter in bits over food.
A double boiler is a tool or a cooking technique (bain-marie or water bath) where two pots are used. The bottom pot is filled with water, and the top pot is placed on top. The water in the bottom pot is heated, creating steam which gently heats the contents in the top pot. This method is used to melt ingredients such as chocolate or butter without burning them, as the indirect heat from the steam provides a gentle and even heat distribution. It is commonly used in making sauces, melting chocolate, and delicate recipes that require precise and controlled heating—used to cook custards and sauces where the mixture might curdle if cooked over direct heat.
Drain is to pour off fat or liquid from food, often using a colander.
Draw is to remove the entrails from poultry or fish and also to clarify a mixture.
Drawn refers to a whole fish, with or without scales, that has had its internal organs removed.
Drawn butter is a melted butter often served as a sauce for steamed seafood. Some cooks restrict the term to clarified butter, while others insist it should not be clarified.
Dredge (or Dredging)
Dredge is to sprinkle, lightly coat or cover food, usually meat or vegetables, with a dry ingredient such as flour, cornmeal mixture, bread crumbs, sugar, or other fine substance before (to be fried) or after cooking. The coating helps to brown the food and provides a crunchy surface. Dredged foods need to be cooked immediately, while breaded foods, dredged in flour, dipped in egg then dredged again in breading, can be prepared and held before cooking.
Dress (or Dressed)
Dress has two definitions when it comes to cooking.
Firstly, coat with oil, vinegar, salt, or other toppings foods, mostly salad leaves, in a sauce.
It also refers to preparing poultry, fish, venison or game for cooking, such as plucking, skinning, or scaling and then eviscerating, essentially breaking them down off their carcasses and sectioning the meat. Fish or game that has had guts (viscera) removed. In the case of fish, gills are removed, the cavity is cleaned, and the head and fins remain intact. The scales may or may not be removed.
Dressing is a sauce or vinaigrette used to enhance the flavour of salads or vegetables.
Drip Pan is a metal or disposable foil pan placed under food to catch drippings when grilling. A drip pan can also be made from heavy-duty foil.
Drippings are the juices, fats, and browned bits rendered by meat or poultry during cooking that collect at the bottom of a pan while cooking meat or poultry. Unless burned or very greasy, the drippings are valuable for a little sauce and gravy for the finished product.
Drizzle is randomly pouring a thin stream of liquid, such as melted butter, oil, syrup, melted chocolate, powdered sugar icing, or other liquid, gently and evenly over a dish in a fine stream.
Drumstick is the lower part of a poultry leg, typically referring to a chicken or turkey leg.
Dry aging is a process of aging beef in a controlled environment with specific humidity and temperature conditions, allowing natural enzymes to tenderize and intensify the flavour of the meat. With aging, the natural enzymes in the muscle break down the connective tissues and muscle fibres, enhancing tenderness and flavour. In addition, marbling helps make the meat juicier, more flavourful, and tender. While cooking, the marbling is melted and lubricates the muscle strands providing the steak with the flavour qualities and tenderness one expects from a dry-aged steak.
Dust is sprinkling food with a fine layer of dry ingredients, such as flour or powdered sugar (confectioners’ sugar), cocoa (cakes and pastries) or another powdery ingredient, before or after cooking. Use a strainer or jar with a perforated cover, or try the old-fashioned way of shaking things together in a paper bag.
Dutch oven refers to a heavy cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid. It is usually made of cast iron or enamelled cast iron. It is known for its excellent heat retention and distribution. The Dutch oven is versatile and can be used for various cooking methods, such as braising, stewing, and baking. It is commonly used for slow-cooking meals and is particularly ideal for making soups, stews, roasts, and bread. The Dutch oven is a popular choice among professional chefs and home cooks due to its durability and ability to cook evenly.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it covers a variety of culinary terms.
Did we leave any out? What would you add to this list of culinary terms?
If you need more terms or have any other questions, please ask in the comments, and we will update our ever-growing list.
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