The complete glossary of culinary terms – S

The complete glossary of culinary terms – S

Reading a recipe and aren’t sure about some of the ingredients, terms, and recipe techniques included? You’re not alone if you’ve ever found yourself lost in a restaurant menu or need clarification on a recipe. Even for the most gifted Chefs, there are terms in a recipe that make them stop and say, “Huh?” The culinary world is full of unique terms, jargon, and words and techniques that can be challenging to understand and master. That’s where the complete glossary of culinary terms comes in. This comprehensive guide is designed to demystify the world of cooking and help you easily navigate complex recipes. This glossary covers everything from ingredients and cooking methods to equipment and kitchen jargon. It provides all the essential knowledge you need to navigate the world of cooking. Whether you’re a seasoned home cook or just starting in the kitchen, this guide is a must-have tool for expanding your culinary skills and knowledge. So grab your apron and get ready to elevate your cooking endeavours with the Fast2eat complete glossary of culinary terms.

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Here is a glossary of culinary terms starting with the letter S

Sabayon (or Zabaglione or Zabaione or zabajone)

Sabayon is a French name derived from the Italian zabaione or zabaglione (or zabajone, an archaic spelling). Zabaglione and Sabayon are rich and creamy desserts or sweet sauces made with egg yolks, sugar, and wine (traditionally Marsala wine) or other spirits beaten together over heat until thick: served either hot or cold. It’s similar to a custard but thinner and more pourable. Sabayon is often used as a sauce for desserts, particularly tiramisu or those with fruit or cream, as it helps to balance the sweetness and add a rich, creamy texture.
See its recipe at Irresistible Tiramisu Fast2eat.


Saddle is a cut of meat consisting of the entire loin from both sides of the backbone, the rib section to the haunch or tail, most commonly from a hare, rabbit, lamb, veal or venison. This expensive cut is very tender and makes an impressive presentation for a special occasion.


Saffron is a highly valued spice known for its distinctive earthy, aromatic, pungent, slightly sweet flavour and vibrant yellow-orange colour. This spice is used to flavour or colour foods. It is commonly used in dishes like paella, risotto, and curries. Use in soup, chicken, rice and fancy bread. Saffron is long among the world’s most costly spices by weight. Saffron is also believed to have various health benefits, including reducing inflammation and improving digestion.


Sage is an herb commonly used in savoury dishes, particularly in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. It has a pungent, earthy flavour and is often used to season meats, soups, and stews. It is used either fresh or dried and goes particularly well with fresh or cured pork, lamb, veal, poultry or vegetables. Sage is also a popular ingredient in breads and cheeses.


Salsa is a spicy sauce made from finely chopped tomatoes, onions, peppers, chillies, cilantro and spices. It is commonly used as a condiment or topping for various dishes, including tacos, nachos, and grilled meats. It is often used in Mexican and Southwestern cuisine.


Salting is an ancient process of adding salt to food, such as meats, mainly pork and fish, to enhance flavour, texture, and preservation. Salt helps to bring out the ingredients’ natural flavours, balance the taste of dishes, and act as a preservative to prevent spoilage. Different types of salt, such as kosher, sea salt, and Himalayan pink salt, can also impart unique flavours and textures to dishes.


Sauce is a hot or cold seasoned or flavoured liquid, cream, or semi-solid food either served with or used in the cooking process of a dish, designed to accompany food and to enhance or bring out its flavour. Sauces are usually made from oils, vinegar, sweeteners, and seasonings. They can be served as a side dish or used as a topping. They add flavour, moisture, texture and visual appeal to another dish. Sauce is a French word taken from the Latin salsa, meaning salted. Common sauces include tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, and hollandaise sauce.


Saucisse is the French term for a small, thin-cut sausage typically made from pork and seasoned with salt, pepper, herbs, and seasoned minced meat, which is stuffed into a tubular casing and formed into links. It is often served grilled or pan-fried and used as an ingredient in various dishes, such as sauces, stews, and casseroles.

Saucisson (or Saucisson sec)

Saucisson is the French term for a large, thick, dry, smoke-cured sausage that originates in France—typically made of pork or a mixture of pork and other meats seasoned with salt, pepper, and herbs. It is a type of charcuterie similar to salami or summer sausage but may have a more delicate flavour and texture. Saucisson is often served as an appetizer or used in sandwiches and salads.


Sauerkraut is a finely chopped cabbage salted and allowed to ferment until sour. It is popular in German cuisine. It is made by shredding cabbage and allowing it to ferment in its own juices, which creates a tangy, sour flavour. Sauerkraut is often served as a side dish or an ingredient in recipes such as sausages and stews. It is high in probiotics and vitamins, making it a nutritious addition to a healthy diet. It has a long shelf life and a distinctive sour flavour resulting from the lactic acid that forms when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage.


Sauté refers to a cooking technique where food is quickly browned in a small amount of oil or fat in a skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. This technique is used to sear or caramelize the surface of food, adding flavour and texture.

Savoury (or savory)

Savoury refers to foods that are not sweet but have a rich, complex flavour profile, often characterized by umami taste. Savoury dishes typically include meats, vegetables, and herbs and are usually served as a main course or side dish. Examples of savoury foods include steak, roasted vegetables, and soups.

Savoury (or savory) herb

Savoury is the dried brownish-green, extremely small aromatic leaves of a plant of the mint family; it has an aromatic, robust, peppery flavour often used to enhance the taste of dishes without overpowering them. It blends well with other herbs. It may be used alone or with other herbs in stuffing for meat, fish or poultry; egg dishes; sauces; soups; meatloaf and hamburgers; stews; beans; cabbage; peas; and tomato juice. Savory’s robust, peppery taste inspired a second meaning—savoury also refers to flavorful food, as in “a savoury sauce.” Savory is also known as the “herb of love”: Ancient Romans believed this aromatic herb was a natural aphrodisiac and used it to make love potions.


Scald is to pour over or immerse food in boiling water for a short time to cook only the outer layer. It also refers to the process of heating a liquid to a temperature that is just below the boiling point, typically between 82°C and 88°C/180°F and 190°F. This is done to warm ingredients or cook food gently without boiling or overheating it. Scalding can be used to cook delicate ingredients like eggs, fish, or vegetables without breaking them down or losing their texture. It is also to heat a liquid, often milk, to a temperature just below the boiling point when tiny bubbles appear around the liquid’s edge or to sterilize kitchen equipment with boiling water.


Scale can refer to a variety of things.
It can mean removing the scales from the skin of a fish using a dull knife or a special kitchen tool called a fish scaler.
It also means weighing out all the ingredients in a recipe.
It can also refer to a dish’s balance or proportion of flavours.
Additionally, it can refer to the size or proportion of a food item.


Scalloped is a term that refers to baking food, usually in a casserole, in (usually) a cream sauce or other liquid. Crumbs often are sprinkled over. It’s applied to dishes to describe a style of cooking. There can be scalloped potatoes (the most well-known), scalloped corn, scalloped tomatoes, etc. All these have in common that they are cooked and covered in bread crumbs.
Also, if the edge of something is scalloped, it is made into a row of small curves.

Scaloppine (or Scaloppini or Scallopini)

Scaloppine is an Italian dish consisting of thin, small, boneless slices of meat, usually veal. However, chicken may also be used, which is dredged in wheat flour, sautéed, then heated and served with a tomato or wine sauce, or piccata, which denotes a caper and lemon sauce. These cuts of meat can also be called scallops, for example, veal scallops or cutlets. This dish is popular in Italian cuisine and often serves as an appetizer or side dish.


Scallops typically refer to small pieces of meat, usually beef, veal or pork, cut into scallop-like shapes and pan-fried until crispy and golden brown. They are often served as an appetizer or side dish and can be seasoned with various herbs and spices to add flavour.
Scallops can also refer to shellfish typically harvested in a curved shape, with a fan-like arrangement of muscles on one side. Sea scallops are often used in risottos, pasta, and stir-fries and are prized for their tender flesh and mild flavour.
Check these Sea scallops with creamy garlic parmesan sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, and broccoli Fast2eat.


Score can refer to a shallow cut or incision made in a food item, typically to allow for even cooking or to enhance the dish’s appearance, tenderize it, help it absorb flavour, encourage crispiness and flavour absorption or allow fat to drain as it cooks. For example, a chef might score a piece of meat to allow the seasonings to penetrate more evenly.

Scotch bonnet (or Scotty bons or Bonney peppers or Caribbean red peppers)

Scotch bonnet is a variety of chilli peppers known for their intense heat and flavour. Most Scotch bonnets have a heat rating of 100,000–350,000 Scoville units, making them some of the hottest peppers in the world. For comparison, most jalapeño peppers have a heat rating of 2,500 to 8,000 on the Scoville scale. However, there are completely sweet varieties of Scotch bonnet grown on some of the Caribbean islands, called cachucha peppers. Found mainly in the Caribbean islands, it is also in Guyana (called the ball-of-fire pepper), the Maldives Islands (called mirus) and West Africa. They are also called ‘Ata rodo’ by Yoruba natives of Nigeria. They are commonly used in Caribbean and West Indian cuisine, particularly in jerk marinades, stews, and sauces.


Scrape can refer to several different actions.
It can mean removing the outer layers of a vegetable or fruit, such as scraping the skin of a potato or peeling off an apple.
It can also refer to the act of removing food from a surface or container, such as scraping the last bits of food off a plate or bowl.
Additionally, “scrape” can be used to describe the act of mixing or blending food together, such as scraping ingredients together in a bowl.

Sear (or Searing or Brown)

Sear refers to quickly cooking a food item’s surface over high heat to develop a flavourful browned crust with a crispy, caramelized texture. This can be done with various cooking methods, including pan-searing, grilling, broiling, baking, or sautéing. This helps seal in the meat’s juices and may be done in the oven, under the broiler, or on top of the range. This method increases shrinkage but develops flavour, improves the appearance and texture of a dish and is often used to cook meat, fish, vegetables, and other ingredients. This is often done before braising the food to add flavour and is not usually intended to cook the food all the way through. It creates a thin layer at the bottom of the pan, which is deglazed and used for making sauces.

Sea Salt (or Bay salt or Solar salt)

Sea salt is also called bay salt, solar salt, or simply salt. Sea salt is derived from the evaporation of seawater. Some cooks prefer it over table salt for its clean, salty flavour. However, using sea salt over other sodium chloride salts has little or no health benefit. It is used as a seasoning in foods, cooking, cosmetics, and preserving food. Like mined rock salt, the production of sea salt has been dated to prehistoric times.


Season is adding an ingredient to foods before, during, or after cooking to enhance their flavour, but not taking away from the natural flavour of the food. It involves adding herbs, spices, and other ingredients at the right moment to enhance the ingredients’ natural flavours and create a harmonious taste experience. A well-seasoned dish is balanced and flavourful, with each component complementing the others.


Section is to separate and remove the membrane of segments of citrus fruits. Use a paring knife to remove the peel and white pith to section the oranges.


To Seed is to remove the seeds from fruits and vegetables.
Seed refers to a small, hard, and usually edible fruit or vegetable that contains the embryo of a plant. Seeds are used in cooking and baking to add texture, flavour, and nutrition to dishes. Examples of culinary seeds include sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds.

Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are a versatile ingredient with a sweet, nutty flavour.
They are commonly used in appetizers, baking, breads and cookies and as a topping for granola, yogurt, meats and vegetables, adding flavour, texture, and nutrition to various dishes. In Asian cuisine, sesame seeds are used in stir-fries, sauces, and marinades. They are also a key ingredient in tahini and hummus. Black and white sesame seeds are used whole as a garnish in various Asian cuisines, ground into a paste, or pressed for their rich oil. To bring out their flavour, toast them briefly in a dry skillet.


Shallot is a type of onion smaller and milder than regular onions, with brown skin, white-to-purple flesh, and a flavour resembling a cross between sweet onion and garlic. They have a delicate flavour and aroma and are often used in French and Asian cuisine. Shallots are a versatile ingredient that can be used in various dishes, including soups, stews, sauces, and marinades. They are also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and potassium.


Shank refers to the lower part of a meat cut, taken from the front leg of the carcass, typically the area between the knee and the hip. Shank meat is often tougher and more flavourful than other cuts. It is popular for slow-cooking methods like braising or stewing to break down the tough connective tissues.

Sharpening Steel (or Honing steel or Sharpening stick or Sharpening rod or Butcher's steel or Chef's steel)

Sharpening Steel is a long, thin, grooved rod made of extremely hard, high-carbon steel, diamond steel, or ceramic, used to keep a fine edge on a blade. They are flat, oval, or round in cross-section and up to one foot long (30 cm). The steel and ceramic honing steels may have longitudinal ridges. In contrast, the diamond-coated steels are smooth but will be embedded with abrasive diamond particles.
Sharpening steel also refers to the process of honing or maintaining the sharpness of a knife through repeated strokes against steel. This helps to realign the blade’s edge, maintain its sharpness, and prevent it from becoming dull. Regular use of sharpening steel can extend the life of a knife and improve its overall performance in the kitchen.

Sheet Cake Pan

Sheet Cake Pan refers to a long, flat pan used to bake a typically rectangular cake. Often, the term is used to describe a 13 x 9 x 2-in (33 x 23 x 5 cm) baking pan. Sheet cake pans are often made of aluminum or non-stick materials.

Short Loin

Short Loinis is the most tender section of beef. It lies between the ribs and sirloin in the middle of the cattle’s back. It contains part of the spine, the top loin, and the tenderloin. Short loin refers to a cut of beef that comes from the lower portion of the animal’s loin, between the ribs and the hindquarters. It is known for its tenderness and rich flavour and is often used in dishes like steak, roast, and burgers. This cut yields types of steak, including porterhouse, strip steak (Kansas City Strip, New York Strip), and T-bone (a cut containing partial meat from the tenderloin). The T-bone is a cut containing less of the tenderloin than the porterhouse.

Short Rib

Short Rib is the large or top section of the rib cage cut into portions, usually 2-3 inches long. Short Ribs are typically braised or slow-cooked to tenderize them. They are known for their rich, meaty flavour and tender texture.


A shoulder is a cut of meat referring to the part of the carcass to which the front legs are attached, located near the joint where the arm meets the body. It is often used for slow-cooking methods like braising or roasting, as it is rich in connective tissue that breaks down during cooking, resulting in tender and flavorful meat.

Shred (or Finely Shred)

Shred refers to pushing food across a shredding surface to make small, long, narrow strips. Finely shredding means to make long, thin strips. Shredding can be done with a food processor, cheese grater, or even by hand with a knife. Lettuce and cabbage may be shredded by thinly slicing them with a knife. Cooked meat can be shredded by pulling it apart with two forks.


Sherry refers to a type of fortified wine from the Jerez region of Spain. It is made from white grapes and aged in oak barrels, resulting in a nutty, slightly sweet flavour. It ranges from dry to sweet and light (pale amber) to dark (brown) in tint. Sherry can be enjoyed as a pre-dinner or after-dinner drink. Sherry is often used as a cooking ingredient, adding depth and complexity to dishes like sauces, stews, and braises.


Shortening is a vegetable oil that has been processed into solid form. Shortening is commonly used for baking to make crumbly pastry and other food products or frying. Shortening is used in pastries that should not be elastic, such as cake. Plain and butter-flavour types can be used interchangeably. Although butter is solid at room temperature and is frequently used in making pastry, “shortening” seldom refers to butter but is more closely related to margarine.

Shrimp Paste (or Shrimp sauce)

Shrimp Paste (or Shrimp sauce) is a pungent seasoning made from dried, salted shrimp, often mixed with spices, garlic, and other ingredients and pounded into a paste. It is used as a flavour enhancer in many Asian dishes, particularly in Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese cuisine. It adds a rich, savoury, and slightly sweet flavour to stir-fries, curries, and noodle dishes. The salty shrimp taste mellows during cooking. In a pinch, substitute anchovy paste, though it’s not as boldly flavoured.


Shuck is to remove the shells from seafood, such as oysters and clams, or the husks from corn. This process is done to expose the edible part of the food. For example, shucking oysters involves removing the rough outer shell to reveal the tender flesh.


A sieve is a kitchen tool that separates liquids from solids to strain liquids or food particles through a sieve or strainer. It is used to remove lumps or large particles from a mixture, resulting in a smoother consistency. Press the solids, using a ladle or wooden spoon, into the strainer to remove as much liquid and flavour as possible. A strainer is a form of sieve that separates solids from the liquid. A sieve or sifter is also used to separate and break up clumps in dry ingredients such as flour and to aerate and combine them.


Sift refers to the process of passing a mixture or ingredient through a fine mesh or screen to remove any lumps or large particles, resulting in a smoother consistency. Sift is to put one or more dry ingredients, especially flour, cocoa or powdered sugar, through a sifter; sprinkle, scatter, disperse or sieve to break up the larger parts and remove lumps or unevenly sized particles. The process also incorporates air to make ingredients, like flour, lighter. Synonymous with aerating. This technique is commonly used to measure ingredients accurately, mix dry ingredients evenly, and prevent clumping in baked goods.

Silver Dragees

Silver Dragees are small, round, silver-coloured candy balls coated in a thin layer of sugar and typically filled with a creamy or nutty filling. They are often used as a decorative element on cakes, pastries, and other desserts, adding a touch of elegance and sophistication.

Silver Skin

Silver Skin is a tough connective membrane found on cuts of meat where they attach to certain bones and joints. The silver skin must be removed before cooking.


Simmer means to cook a liquid over low heat, just below the boiling point, allowing flavours to meld and ingredients to infuse. The surface of the liquid should be barely moving, broken from time to time by slowly rising bubbles. It’s cooked slowly in liquid over low heat at about 82-94°C (180-200°F). This technique is used for soups, stews, and sauces and can help to develop rich, deep flavours.


Singeing is rotating poultry over a flame, typically through a blowtorch or a kitchen torch, to burn off any remaining feathers after plucking. This technique is often used to give foods a crispy or caramelized exterior, such as the crust of a roasted chicken or the top of a pan-seared steak.


Sirloin refers to a prime cut of beef from the upper loin between the short loin and the round, typically cut into steaks or roasts. The section is divided into three cuts: the top sirloin contains part of the top loin muscle of the short loin; the tenderloin, which is also a continuation of the short loin; and the bottom sirloin which has a portion of the sirloin tip from the round. It is known for its tenderness and rich flavour, making it a popular choice for grilling, roasting, or sautéing.


Skewer refers to piercing and holding food in place using a skewer or a series of skewers. This technique is commonly used for grilling or cooking foods such as kebabs, satay, and shish kebabs. The skewer helps to keep the food in place and allows for even cooking and browning.
A skewer is a long, narrow metal or wooden stick inserted through pieces of meat or vegetables for grilling. If using bamboo or wooden skewers, soak them in cold water for 30 minutes before you thread them to prevent burning.


Skim can refer to removing the fat or cream from a liquid, such as milk or cream, by skimming it off the surface. It removes impurities, whether scum or the top layer of fat or foam, that have developed on the surface from a liquid (soups, stocks or sauces) when boiled, resulting in a clear, cleaner-tasting final product. The top layer of the liquid, such as the cream from milk or the foam and fat from stock, soups or sauces, can be removed using a spoon, ladle or skimmer. Soups, stews or sauces can be chilled so that the fat coagulates on the surface and may be easily removed before reheating. This technique is often used to create a lighter, more streamlined version of a dish or to remove excess fat and calories.


Skin is to remove the skin from food before or after cooking. Poultry, fish and game are often skinned for appearance, taste and diet.


Slake is to mix a powder, such as corn flour, with a little liquid to form a paste so it can be incorporated into a larger amount of liquid without forming lumps.


Slice is a thin, flat piece of food, typically cut from a larger item. Examples include slicing bread, meat, cheese, and vegetables. It’s also the process of cutting flat, thin pieces. Slicing can be done by hand or with a machine, and the resulting slices can be used in a variety of dishes, such as sandwiches, salads, and pasta.

Slow Cooker (or Crock-Pot)

A slow cooker is a countertop electrical kitchen appliance that cooks food over a long period of time at a low temperature (cooks food with low, steady, moist heat). It allows for the slow cooking of various dishes, such as stews, soups, roasts, and chilli, without needing constant attention or supervision. It consists of a lidded round or oval cooking pot made of glazed ceramic or porcelain, surrounded by a housing, usually metal, containing a thermostatically controlled electric heating element. This appliance uses up to 80% less energy than a regular stove. The slow cooker is also known as a Crock-Pot (a trademark often used generically).


Slurry is a mixture of a solid and a liquid, typically a starch or flour and a liquid such as water or broth, used to thicken sauces, soups, and stews. The starch is dissolved in the liquid to create a smooth, consistent texture.


Smoke refers to the flavour and aroma imparted to food through the use of smoke from burning wood, using select woods, herbs, or other plant material. Smoking can add depth and complexity to a variety of dishes, including meats, cheeses, and vegetables. Traditionally used for preservation purposes, smoking is used to add natural flavours to food. Smoking tends to dry the food, kill bacteria, deepen the colour, and give food a smoky flavour. The duration of smoking varies from 20 minutes to several days. The most commonly used woods are beech, oak and chestnut, to which aromatic essences are often added. Small home smokers are now available.


Snip is to cut food, often fresh herbs or dried fruit, with kitchen shears or scissors into very small, uniform pieces using short, quick strokes.

Soba Noodles

Soba noodles are a type of Japanese noodle made from wheat and buckwheat flour, giving them a distinctive nutty flavour and chewy texture. It can refer to any thin noodle (unlike thick wheat noodles, known as udon) in Japan. They are often served cold with dipping sauces or in hot broths and are prized for their versatility and health benefits. In culinary terms, soba noodles are popular for their rich flavour and versatility in traditional and modern dishes. Soba, made with newly harvested buckwheat, is called “shin-soba .” It is sweeter and more flavorful than regular soba.

Soft Ball

Soft Ball is a term in sugarcraft and confectionery. A small amount of syrup is dropped into cold water and forms a soft, flexible ball, but it flattens like a pancake after a few moments in your hand. Soft-ball stage refers to a specific temperature range when cooking sugar syrups, occurring between 113-120°C/235-248°F. This stage is used for fudge mostly.

Soft Crack

Soft Crack is when the sugar syrup temperature reaches 132-144°C/270-291°F. At this stage, the sugar concentration of the syrup is 95 percent, which determines how pliable or brittle the candy will be. The syrup will form hard threads that are still pliable and will bend before they break. Mostly used for butterscotches and taffy.

Soft Peaks

Soft Peaks is a term used to describe when egg whites or whipped cream are beaten until thick and hold some shape, but the peaks flop over softly when the whisk is removed. Soft peaks are still slightly rounded and soft and curl over and droop when the beaters are removed rather than stand straight up, stiff and peaky. This texture is desirable in many desserts and drinks, adding a creamy, smooth texture without being too stiff or overwhelming. To test: When you lift up your beaters/whisk, the peaks are soft and will curl downwards and melt back into themselves almost immediately.

Somen Noodles

Somen Noodles are thin, delicate noodles made from wheat flour, water, and salt. These delicate dried Japanese noodles are very fine and most often white. In a pinch, substitute angel hair pasta. They are typically served cold or slightly chilled and often used in Japanese cuisine for dishes such as somen noodle salads or soup.


A soup is a liquid dish made from any combination of vegetables, meats, fish and spices cooked together by simmering in stock, juice, water, broths, or another liquid that produces a thick, smooth, or chunky consistency. Soup is primarily liquid food, generally served warm (but may be cool or cold). Hot soups are additionally characterized by boiling solid ingredients in liquids in a pot until the flavours are extracted, forming a broth. Soups can be classified into categories, including creamy, broth-based, and chowder-style soups. They are a popular and versatile dish that can be enjoyed as a meal or side dish.

Sour Cream

Sour cream is a commercial dairy product made from fermented cream, resulting in a tangy, slightly sour flavour. It’s often used as enrichment in a wide range of savoury and sweet recipes as a topping or ingredient in baked goods, dips, and sauces. The taste of sour cream is only mildly sour. Its extra acidity can boost the leavening action of baking soda in a quick bread.


Sourdough refers to bread made using a natural starter culture (a fermented mixture of flour, water, and bacteria cultures) instead of commercial yeast. The starter culture ferments the dough, producing carbon dioxide gas bubbles, which causes the dough to rise. This results in bread with a tangy, chewy texture and a distinctive flavour. Sourdough bread is often associated with San Francisco and is prized for its rich, complex flavour.

Sous vide

Sous vide refers to a method that involves cooking food sealed in airtight bags in a water bath at a precisely controlled low temperature-controlled water bath for an extended period. This method allows for precise control over the cooking process, resulting in consistent, evenly cooked dishes. Sous vide cooking has gained popularity in recent years for its ability to produce tender, flavorful dishes with minimal loss of nutrients.


Soymilk is a plant-based milk alternative made by soaking and blending soybeans with water. It has a creamy texture and a slightly sweet, nutty flavour. Soymilk can be a good substitute for cow’s milk for people who do not consume dairy products. It is often used in recipes as a substitute for dairy milk and can be found in many grocery stores. Plain, unfortified soymilk offers high-quality proteins and B vitamins. Substituting soymilk for regular milk is sometimes possible, though the flavour may be affected. Experiment to see what is acceptable to you.

Soy sauce (or Soya sauce)

Soy sauce (or Soya sauce) is a savoury condiment made from fermented soybeans, salt, and roasted grains. Soy sauce is one of the world’s oldest condiments. It adds depth and umami flavour to dishes, particularly in Asian cuisine. Chinese brands tend to be saltier than Japanese. There are critical differences between brewed and non-brewed soy sauces. Brewed soy sauce has a mellow, salty-sweet flavour, a subtle aroma and a delicate, transparent colour – qualities that enhance other ingredients. The harsh, salty flavour of non-brewed soy sauce is one-dimensional, masking and overpowering other ingredients. Soy sauce is used to marinate meats and add flavour to stir-fries, entrees, pasta, pizza, soups, salads, sandwiches and as a dipping sauce for sushi and other dishes. Soy Sauce can balance and intensify other ingredients’ salty, sweet and tart flavours, acting as a natural flavour enhancer.

Spare Ribs (or Side ribs or Spareribs)

Spare Ribs refer to a cut of pork ribs or beef ribs that is typically meatier and fattier than other cuts, such as baby back ribs. They are often cooked low and slow to tenderize the meat and enhance the flavour. They are cooked and eaten in various cuisines around the world. They are the most inexpensive cut of pork and beef ribs. They are a long cut from the lower portion of the pig or cattle, specifically the belly and breastbone, behind the shoulder, and include 11 to 13 long bones. A covering of meat is on top of the bones and between them.


A spatula is a versatile tool with a flat, flexible blade used for scraping, flipping, lifting, and spreading food in various cooking techniques. It is typically made of durable materials like stainless steel or silicone. It comes in different sizes and shapes depending on the specific cooking task.


Spice refers to a dried or ground plant product used to add flavour, aroma, or colour to food. Common spices include cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika, ginger, and turmeric. Spices can be used whole or ground and can be added to dishes during cooking or as a seasoning before serving.


A spit is a long, thin, pointed rod that holds food, such as meat or vegetables, over an open flame or heat source, allowing it to cook evenly and quickly. It is commonly used for grilling or roasting food.

Springform Pan

Springform Pan is a versatile baking vessel for creating cakes, tortes, and other desserts. It is a round pan with high sides, a non-stick coating and a removable bottom, making it easy to release the dessert after baking. The base is removed by releasing a clamp (spring) that holds the sides tight around it. This makes it easy to remove food from the pan. The pan’s design allows even cooking and a smooth, clean finish.

Star anise (or Star anise seed or Chinese star anise or Badiam)

Star anise is a popular spice commonly used in Asian cuisine, particularly in Chinese, Indian, and Southeast Asian cooking. It has a distinctive licorice-like flavour and aroma and is often used to flavour soups, stews, and braises. The whole star-shaped fruit can be used whole or ground, and it can also be used as a tea. Star anise is a versatile, aromatic spice that adds depth and warmth to various dishes. It is a spice that resembles anise in flavour obtained from the star-shaped pericarp of the fruit of Illicium velum, which is harvested just before ripening. Star anise oil is a highly fragrant oil used in cooking, perfumery, soaps, toothpaste, mouthwashes, and skin creams.

Staling (or Going stale)

Staling (or Going stale) is a chemical and physical process in which foods such as bread lose their freshness and flavour over time, reduce their palatability and become hard, musty, dry or leathery. This can occur due to exposure to air, light, or heat, causing the food to become less palatable and less nutritious. Staling can happen to a variety of foods, including baked goods, dairy products, and meats.

Steak au poivre (or Pepper steak)

Steak au poivre is a French dish that consists of a steak, traditionally a filet mignon, coated with a mixture of coarsely cracked peppercorns, butter, and flour, then sautéing in a pan until golden brown and cooked to desired doneness. The peppercorns form a crust on the steak when cooked and provide a pungent but complementary counterpoint to the rich flavour of the high-quality beef. The peppercorns add a bold, aromatic flavour to the steak, making it a popular choice for dinner parties and special occasions.
Pepper steak (also called green pepper steak) is also a stir-fried Chinese American dish consisting of sliced beef steak (often flank, sirloin, or round) cooked with sliced green and/or red bell peppers and other seasonings such as soy sauce and ginger, and usually thickened with cornstarch. Sliced onions and bean sprouts are also frequent additions to the recipe.


Steam refers to the process of cooking food using steam produced by boiling water. This can be done by placing food in a steamer basket over boiling water in a covered pan, allowing the steam to penetrate the food and cook it evenly. Steaming is a healthy and flavourful way to cook vegetables, seafood, and other foods without adding extra fat or salt. Steaming retains flavour, shape, texture, and nutrients better than boiling or poaching.


Steep can refer to the process of soaking or immersing food or ingredients, such as coffee, tea leaves, spices or herbs, in a hot (just below the boiling point) liquid, such as water or oil, for a period of time to extract flavours, colour or nutrients. This can be done through steeping, infusing, or marinating techniques. It is similar to infuse.

Sterilization (or Sterilize)

Sterilization refers to thoroughly cooking or heating food to kill harmful bacteria, micro-organisms or pathogens by boiling, dry heat, or steam. This is typically done by heating food to a high temperature, usually above 74°C/165°F, for a sufficient amount of time to ensure the food is safe.


Stew refers to a dish made by cooking ingredients in liquid over relatively low heat (simmered, not boiled) for a prolonged period of time, usually in a covered pot, allowing flavours. It can be made with a variety of ingredients, such as meat (especially tougher meats suitable for slow-cooking, such as beef. Poultry, sausages, and seafood are also used), vegetables (such as carrots, potatoes, onions, beans, peppers and tomatoes), seasonings and flavourings. While water can be used as the stew-cooking liquid, wine, stock, and beer are also common. It is often served as a hearty and comforting meal. The term also refers to a mixture prepared this way and served in the resultant gravy.

Stiff Peaks

Stiff Peaks describe the consistency when egg whites or cream are beaten until they form physical stiff peaks that hold their point after removing the whisk. The stiff peaks will stand up straight when the beaters are removed from the mixture.


Stir can mean mixing or combining ingredients with a circular motion using a utensil, such as a spoon or whisk. It can also refer to the act of mixing food while it’s cooking, such as stir-frying or stirring a pot of soup. It is important to stir until well blended or of uniform consistency. Stir is also essential to prevent ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pan during cooking and sometimes to cool them after cooking.


Stir-fry is a cooking method where ingredients are quickly cooked in a wok or large skillet over high heat, stirring constantly. This method allows for quick cooking and even ingredient browning, resulting in a flavourful and visually appealing dish.


Stock is a flavourful liquid made by simmering animal bones, vegetables, herbs and aromatics. Stock is used as a base for soups, stews, and sauces, adding depth and richness to dishes. It can be made with beef, chicken, fish, shrimp or vegetables. It is similar to the broth but is richer and more concentrated. Stock and broth can be used interchangeably; reconstituted bouillon can also be substituted for stock.


Stollen is a type of fruitcake made with chopped dried fruit, nuts, sugar, and spices, typically soaked in rum or other liquids and often covered with powdered sugar or icing sugar. It is usually shaped into a loaf or ring and topped with a crumbly streusel topping. Stollen is a popular German dessert, typically served during the holiday season, when it is called Weihnachtsstollen (after “Weihnachten”) or Christstollen (after Christ) as well as Winterbrot (winter bread) when eaten during Jewish festivities, as it foreshadows the coming of winter.


Strain can refer to removing solids or liquids from a mixture by pouring a mixture of liquid and solids into a strainer, colander, sieve, or cheesecloth. This technique is often used to clarify soups, sauces, and other liquids or to remove excess fat or impurities from a dish. Sometimes, the solids are pushed through the strainer with the back of a spoon or spatula and the resulting purée is mixed with the strained liquid and becomes part of the dish.

Strainer (or Sieve or Sifter)

Strainer (or Sieve or Sifter) is a kitchen tool used to separate solid particles from a mixture or liquid. It is typically made of metal or plastic. It has holes or a mesh screen that filter out the larger particles, leaving the desired consistency behind. Straining is important in various cooking processes, such as making sauces, soups, and desserts. It is used to strain liquids or semi-liquids or to sift dry ingredients such as flour or icing sugar or filter for removing impurities or foreign objects from liquids or to separate and break up clumps in dry ingredients such as flour, as well as to aerate and combine them.


Stuff can refer to a variety of ingredients or fillings used in dishes. Some common examples include stuffing for turkey or chicken, such as breadcrumbs, herbs, and spices, or filling for pasta or dumplings, such as meat, vegetables, and cheese.
To stuff can refer to filling the food interior with another preparation before or after cooking, often chopped or minced.


Suet is a type of animal fat often used for cooking and baking. The white fatty casing surrounds the kidneys and the loins in beef, sheep, and other animals. It is solid at room temperature and is often used in recipes such as puddings, cakes, and pastries. Suet can also be used as a substitute for butter or other fats in recipes. Suet has a higher melting point than butter, and when it melts, it leaves small holes in the dough, giving it a loose soft texture.


Sugar is a type of sweetener made from natural or refined sources, including cane sugar, beet sugar, and maple syrup. Sugar is commonly used to add flavour and texture to foods and drinks and can be found in a variety of forms, such as granulated, brown, and powdered.


Sumac is a Middle Eastern spice made from the dried fruit of the sumac bush. It is dark purple-red berries with a pleasantly fruity, astringent taste (similar to a lemon). It has a tangy, slightly sour taste. It often adds depth and complexity to dishes like hummus, tabbouleh, and kebabs. Sumac is an essential component of the Fattouche salad. It is sold ground or in its dried-berry form. Sumac is also a good source of antioxidants and has been shown to have potential health benefits.


Supreme is to remove the flesh sections of citrus fruit from the membranes. Using a sharp knife, cut away all of the skin and pith from the outside of the fruit. Place the knife between the membrane and the flesh of one section and slice it down. Turn the knife, catching the middle of the fruit. Slice up, removing each section sans membrane.


Sushi is a Japanese dish wrapped in a thin sheet of dried seaweed called nori with vinegared rice and various toppings, such as raw fish, vegetables, tofu and seafood. Sushi can be served as a roll, a hand roll, or as individual pieces and is often accompanied by soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled.


Sweat refers to cooking food over low heat for an extended period, typically until it releases its liquid and becomes tender and flavourful. It is gently heating vegetables in a little butter or oil, with frequent stirring and turning, to ensure the emitted liquid will evaporate to aid the cooking process. They become soft but not brown, and their juices are concentrated in the cooking fat. Usually, it results in tender, or in some cases, such as onions, translucent pieces. This technique extracts the natural flavours and moisture from ingredients, resulting in a more intense and complex flavour profile. If the pan is covered during cooking, the ingredients will keep a certain amount of their natural moisture. If the pan is not covered, the ingredients will remain relatively dry.

Sweetbreads (or Ris)

Sweetbreads (or Ris) refer to an animal’s pancreas (also called heart, stomach, or belly sweetbread) or thymus gland (also called throat, gullet, or neck sweetbread), typically a calf (ris de veau) or lamb (ris d’agneau), used as a food ingredient. Sweetbreads are prized for their creamy texture and delicate flavour. They are often served as a luxury dish in high-end restaurants. The “heart” sweetbreads are more spherical and surrounded symmetrically by the “throat” sweetbreads, which are more cylindrical.

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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