Here is a glossary of culinary terms starting with the letter R
Rabbit is a burrowing mammal closely related to the hare. Rabbit can refer to a type of dish made with rabbit meat. Rabbit meat is mostly white, fine textured and mildly flavoured. It is very lean, but since it is skinned before cooking, it absorbs more of the fat used to cook it.
Rack is a portion of the rib section of an animal, usually containing eight ribs. The rack is cut into chops or served whole with a crown roast.
Rack of lamb
Rack of lamb refers to a cut of meat taken from the rib section of a lamb that includes rib bones, typically consisting of two to four ribs, often roasted or grilled as a whole rack. It is prized for its tenderness and rich flavour and is usually served as a special occasion dish.
Radicchio is an Italian variety of chicory related to Belgian endive, sometimes known as Italian chicory, and is a perennial. It is grown as a leafy green vegetable with white-veined red leaves. The most common variety has a spherical head, reddish-purple leaves with creamy white ribs, and a unique, mildly bitter flavour and spicy taste, which mellows when it is grilled or roasted. It’s often used in salads, soups, and pasta dishes and can also be roasted or grilled for a sweet, nutty flavour. Radicchio is a versatile ingredient that adds depth and complexity to a variety of dishes.
In classic French terminology (French ragoût), ragout was used to describe anything that stimulated the appetite. The modern term refers to a main dish, a hearty, flavourful stew or sauce made from meat, poultry, fish, game, or vegetables cut into evenly sized pieces and cooked in a thick, well-seasoned sauce. It is often slow-cooked to tenderize the ingredients and develop a rich, complex flavour profile. Ragout can be served as a main dish or as a base for other dishes, such as pasta or rice. There are two types of ragout: blonde and brown.
In Italian cuisine, a ragù (known as Raguletto in Oceania, Finland and South Korea) is a rich, flavorful, red meat-based sauce made with slow-cooked meat or vegetables, typically beef or pork, and aromatics like onions and garlic. It is commonly served with pasta.
Ramekin (or Ramequin)
Ramekin is a small, oven-safe dish used for individual servings of baked or chilled foods such as soufflés, custards, or baked desserts. Ramekins resemble soufflé dishes and are usually ceramic or porcelain, between 7 and 8 cm in internal diameter and about 2/3 cup in volume. The term “ramekin” comes from the French word for “little pot.”
Rare is a term used to describe the doneness level of meat, indicating that it is cooked for a short period at a high temperature, resulting in a tender, juicy and pink interior. This method is often used for meats, such as steak or chicken, and is prized for its tenderness and flavour.
Ras-el-hanout (or Rass el hanout)
Ras-el-hanout (or Rass el hanout) is a Moroccan spice blend consisting of a variety of warm, aromatic spices, sometimes also including aphrodisiacs, but most commonly cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, anise, peppercorns, cardamom, dried flowers, mace, turmeric, allspice, chilli peppers, coriander seed, sweet and hot paprika, fenugreek, and cloves. The exact composition of ras-el-hanout can vary depending on the region and the maker. “Ras-el-hanout” means in Arabic “head of the shop” (similar to the English expression “top-shelf”), because shop owners create their own unique blend and imply a mixture of the best spices the seller has to offer. It is used to add depth and complexity to a variety of savoury dishes, such as tagines, stews, and soups, sometimes rubbed on meat or fish or stirred into couscous or rice. It plays a similar role in North African cuisine as garam masala does in Indian cuisine. The mix is generally associated with Morocco, although neighbouring North African countries also use it.
Rasher typically refers to a thin slice or strip of cooked meat, often bacon or ham, used as a garnish or added to dishes for flavour and texture.
Ratatouille is a traditional French Provençal hearty vegetable stew.
It typically consists of eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes. It is sautéed separately in olive oil and garlic and seasoned with herbs like thyme and basil before being layered into a baking dish and baked. The dish is flavorful, nutritious, and versatile, making it a popular choice for vegetarians and vegans. Ratatouille is popular among the entire Mediterranean coast as an easy summer dish.
Reconstitution means rehydrating or bringing concentrated or condensed food, such as frozen fruit juice or dried food, to its original consistency, strength or texture. This is often done by soaking the food in liquid, such as water or broth, or by using a food dehydrator to reintroduce moisture. Reconstituting food can help restore its texture and flavour.
Reduce typically means to cook a liquid, stock or sauce until it is thicker and more concentrated. This can be done by simmering or boiling the liquid over low heat to cause evaporation, stirring occasionally, until it reaches the desired consistency. As the liquid evaporates, it thickens and intensifies in flavour. The resulting richly flavoured liquid is called a reduction, which can be used as a sauce or a flavourful base of a sauce, soups, or braising liquids. When reducing liquids, use the pan size specified in the recipe, as the pan’s surface area affects how quickly the liquid will evaporate.
Reduction refers to the process of concentrating a liquid, such as stock, sauce, or wine, by removing excess liquid through heat or evaporation, resulting in a thicker, more intense flavour. This technique is often used to intensify the flavours of a sauce or glaze or to create a thicker, more viscous consistency.
Refresh means to run cold water over food that has been parboiled to stop the cooking process quickly, usually that of vegetables after being blanched, by plunging them into ice-cold water.
Reheat refers to warming back a previously cooked dish or food item to a desired temperature after being cooled down. This can be done using various methods such as microwave, oven, or stovetop heating. Reheating food helps to restore its flavour and texture. It is often necessary when serving leftovers or reusing cooked ingredients in a recipe.
Remoulade is a creamy, tangy, mayonnaise-based sauce often flavoured with mustard, capers, pickles, and herbs, used as a condiment or in seafood dishes or salads. It’s a versatile sauce that can add flavour and moisture to a variety of dishes.
Remouillage is a stock made from bones that have already been used once to make a stock. The stock is weaker than the first stock and is sometimes called “second stock.” It is sometimes used for water in making another stock or is reduced to make a glace.
Render means slowly cooking, using low heat, solid fatty meat or poultry, such as bacon or goose, by melting it over low heat to obtain drippings. The food item is slowly cooked until it is soft and malleable, often to break it down into smaller pieces or extract its flavours and oils. The rendered fat can then be used to cook. This can be done through various methods such as roasting, sautéing, or braising. The resulting product is often used as an ingredient in other dishes or as a base for sauces and soups.
Rennet is a natural enzyme obtained from the stomach lining of young mammals, typically calves or lamb. It is used to coagulate or curdle milk when making cheese. Rennet helps to coagulate the casein proteins in milk, creating a solid mass that can be separated from the liquid whey.
Rest can refer to the period of time after cooking or preparing food during which it is allowed to sit or stand before being served. This allows the flavours to meld together and the food to relax, resulting in a more enjoyable and satisfying dining experience. It is often used to let meats set before serving so the muscle fibres relax and allow the juices to be retained. It is also used in baking to indicate placing dough or batter to one side in a cool place as part of its preparation.
Rib is a cut of meat taken from the rib section between the short loin and the chuck. It is typically cooked by slow-cooked, braising, grilled, or breaded and fried.
Ribbon is a term used to describe the texture of an egg-and-sugar mixture that has been beaten until pale and extremely thick. When the whisk or beater is held up over the bowl, the batter falls slowly onto the surface of the batter mixture in a ribbon-like pattern that sinks back into the batter and disappears after a few seconds.
The ribbon stage refers to a mixture’s (typically with eggs) thickness when the batter is thick enough to leave a letter ‘O’ drawn on the surface for 10 secs when the whisk is lifted. It should hold its shape momentarily before falling into the batter.
Rice means to force food that has been cooked through a perforated utensil known as a ricer, giving the food a rice-like shape. In the most basic, food is pushed or pressured through a metal or plastic plate with many small holes, producing a smoother result than mashing but coarser than pureeing or passing through a sieve or tamis.
Rice Noodles (or Rice Sticks or Rice vermicelli or Bee hoon)
Rice Noodles are thin noodles, popular in Asian cooking, made from finely ground rice (rice flour) and water. However, sometimes other ingredients such as tapioca or corn starch are added to improve the transparency or increase the gelatinous and chewy texture of the noodles. They resemble long, translucent white hairs that can be cooked in various ways. When fried, they puff into light, crisp strands. They can also be soaked to use in stir-fries and soups. Thicker varieties are called rice sticks. Rice Noodles are used in various Asian dishes, such as stir-fries, soups, and salads. They are a popular substitute for traditional noodles and are often used in vegan and gluten-free cuisine. Find in Asian markets; substitute vermicelli or capellini for thin rice noodles and linguine or fettuccine for thicker rice sticks. They should not be confused with cellophane noodles, an Asian type of vermicelli made from mung bean starch rather than rice.
Rice Papers refer to thin, translucent, round, flat, strong, and thin edible papers made from rice flour or rice starch. These papers are often used as wrappers or covers for dishes such as spring rolls, sushi, and banh mi. They provide a delicate, chewy texture and a subtle rice flavour that complements the fillings without overpowering them.
Rice vinegar is a mild-flavour, slightly sweet vinegar made from fermented rice and comes in several varieties, each differing in intensity and tartness. They are all fairly mild compared to European and American-style vinegar. Rice vinegar is interchangeable with rice wine vinegar made from fermented rice wine. Seasoned rice vinegar, with added sugar and salt, can be used in recipes calling for rice vinegar. However, you may wish to adjust the seasonings. It’s commonly used in Asian cuisine for marinating, dressings, dipping sauces, condiments, and pickling. It adds a subtle, slightly sour flavour to dishes and can help balance the flavours of other ingredients.
Rimmed Baking Sheet
A rimmed baking sheet is a metal or silicone pan rimmed on all four sides. This design helps to prevent food from sliding off the sheet during cooking and makes cleanup easier. Rimmed baking sheets are commonly used for baking cookies, bread rolls, roasting vegetables, baking chicken and other items requiring a flat surface. A heavy one won’t warp, and a light-coloured metal will prevent foods from baking dark.
Rind refers to the thick skin or outer layer of a fruit, cheese or vegetable, typically the peel or skin. It is often removed before using the fruit or vegetable in cooking.
The French word for “sweetbreads”. Sweetbreads refer to an animal’s pancreas or thymus gland, typically a calf or lamb, used as a food ingredient. Sweetbreads are prized for their creamy texture and mild flavour. They are often served as a luxury dish, as an appetizer or used in sauces and soups in high-end restaurants.
Risotto is a creamy, flavorful Italian rice dish typically made with Arborio rice, white wine, and stock. The rice is cooked slowly by gradually adding liquid, such as broth or wine, allowing it to absorb the liquid, release starches, and stir until absorbed, resulting in a smooth, velvety texture. Risotto can be served as a side dish or as the base for various flavourful sauces.
Rissolé is a French term for fried foods until crispy and golden brown. Also, a small roll or croquette of minced meat or fish coated in egg and breadcrumbs, enclosed in a thin pastry and usually baked or deep fried. It is filled with sweet or savoury ingredients and is served as an entrée, main course, dessert or side dish.
Ristra is a Spanish term for foods stung up on rope or twine, used mainly for drying chilli pepper pods or for decoration. Ristras historically served as a functional system of drying chile for later consumption. Today, ristras are commonly used as a trademark of decorative design in the state of New Mexico. However, many households still use ristras to dry and procure red chile.
Roast refers to cooking food, typically meat, fish, game, poultry or vegetables, uncovered in an oven at a high temperature using dry heat until they are browned and cooked through, often resulting in a browned and flavorful exterior. This can be done by placing the food on a baking sheet and heating it in the oven at a high temperature, typically between 175°C and 230°C/350°F and 450°F. The food is cooked until golden brown and crispy on the outside and cooked to the desired level of doneness. Roasting can enhance flavour through caramelization and Maillard browning on the surface of the food.
Roebuck is a small deer, typically a male, common to German and East European forests. The flesh of a young roebuck is delicate and dark red with no need for marinating. It is used as an ingredient in various dishes. It is often used in stews, soups, and roasts and is prized for its tender meat and mild flavour.
A rolling pin is a long cylindrical kitchen utensil of wood or other material mostly used to roll paste or shape and flatten the dough, pizza crust, or other foods to a desired thickness. It helps to flatten and shape the dough, making it easier to cook or bake. It can also be used to crush bread crumbs and flatten other foods. Two styles of rolling pins are found: roller and rods. Roller types consist of a thick cylindrical roller with small handles at each end; rod-type rolling pins are usually thinly tapered batons. Rolling pins of different styles, sizes and materials, such as wood or silicone, offer advantages over others, as they are used for different tasks in cooking and baking. They are a fundamental tool in many kitchens.
Roll (or Roll Out)
Roll Out typically refers to thinly rolling dough or other ingredients into a sheet or log shape. This technique often creates even, consistent layers or shapes in baked goods, such as croissants, puff pastry, or bread. Dough, for instance, can be rolled (spread out and flattened) into ropes or balls. The phrase “roll out” refers to mechanically flattening a food, usually a dough or pastry, with a rolling pin.
Rondeau is a wide, shallow pan with straight sides, two loop handles and a lid, often used for braising, stewing, searing, oven roasting and poaching, usually only found in restaurants.
Romaine lettuce is a crisp, sweet, and slightly bitter leafy green vegetable commonly used in salads, sandwiches, and as a garnish. It is a popular variety of lettuce with elongated, pale-green leaves characterized by their crisp texture and slightly pungent flavour. It has a mild, slightly peppery flavour and a crunchy texture, making it a versatile ingredient in many culinary dishes. It grows in a tall head of sturdy leaves with firm ribs down their centres. Unlike most lettuces, it is tolerant to heat.
Romano cheese is a term used in the United States and Canada for a hard, salty cheese suitable primarily for grating, similar to Pecorino Romano, from which the name is derived. Despite the name, it should not be confused with genuine Pecorino Romano, a typical Italian product recognized and protected by the laws of the European Community.
Rosemary is a versatile herb with a strong, aromatic flavour that can enhance the flavour of various dishes. Its piney, slightly bitter taste and fragrant aroma make it a popular choice for meats, soups, stews, and vegetables. Use with partridge, duck, poultry, lamb, veal, seafood and vegetables.
Rotisserie is a cooking device that rotates a food item, typically a piece of meat, around a central axis while it cooks. This technique allows for even cooking, resulting in a juicy, flavourful dish. Rotisseries are commonly used for roasting meats, such as chicken or beef, but can also be used for vegetables or seafood. It’s a style of roasting where meat is skewered on a spit, a small grill with a rotating spit – a long solid rod used to hold food while it is being cooked over a fire in a fireplace or over a campfire or roasted in an oven – for cooking meats and poultry. It also refers to a shop or restaurant specializing in broiled and barbecued meats where spit-roasted meats are prepared and sold, a restaurant or store specializing in roasting chicken by turning it around slowly near a flame or rotisserie grill. This method is generally used for cooking large joints of meat or entire animals, such as pigs or turkeys. The rotation cooks the meat evenly in its juices and allows easy access for continuous self-basting.
Rouelle is a round, thick slice of veal cut across the leg commonly used in roasting or braising. This cut is used to make Osso Bucco.
A roulade is a dish of filled rolled meat or pastry made by rolling a filling around a central axis, typically a bone or a skewer, such as meat, vegetables, or cheese. The rolled ingredients are then cooked, often by braising or roasting, to create a flavourful and visually appealing dish. Traditionally found in various European cuisines, the term roulade originates from the French word “rouler,” meaning “to roll .” However, the term may be used in its generic sense to describe any filled rolled dish, such as those found in maki sushi.
Roux is a French term that refers to a mixture of flour and fat, often butter, cooked to a golden- or rich-brown colour and used for thickening gravy, other sauces, soups, stews, and gumbos. The cooking time varies depending on the type of the required. The roux is cooked until it reaches a desired colour, which can range from blond to dark brown, depending on the desired flavour and thickness of the dish. The three types of roux are blonde, brown, and black. The roux is used in three mother sauces of classical French cooking: béchamel sauce, velouté sauce, and espagnole sauce. Clarified butter, vegetable oils, bacon drippings or lard are commonly used fats. It is typically made from equal parts of flour and fat by weight.
To ‘rub in’ is to integrate hard fat into flour by rubbing the two with your fingertips and thumbs until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Royal icing is a hard white icing made from softly beaten egg whites, icing sugar (powdered sugar), and sometimes flavourings, such as lemon or lime juice. It is known for its smooth, glossy finish and ability to hold detailed designs. It is a popular choice for decorating cakes due to its versatility and durability. It is used on Christmas cakes, wedding cakes, gingerbread houses and many other cakes and cookies, either as a smooth covering or in sharp peaks. Glycerine is often added to prevent the icing from setting too hard. When placing icing on cakes, Marzipan is usually used under the royal icing to prevent discolouration of the icing.
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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