Culinary Glossary


acid Describes any food with sour qualities, often a liquid like citrus juices, vinegar, and wine. Acids and acid-rich ingredients like citrus slices are helpful when marinating because they help flavour and tenderise foods.

aldente Italian for “to the tooth.” Describes food such as pasta or a firm vegetable that is cooked to the point where it holds some of its firmness and doesn’t get too soft.

aperitif Any drink, usually containing alcohol, served before lunch or dinner. A kir (dry white wine with a splash of crème de cassis) is a classic aperitif.


bake To cook food with dry, indirect heat, usually in an oven.

baste To pour liquids such as oil, butter, stocks, or sauces over cooking food to keep it from drying out and add more flavor.

Béarnaise A classic French sauce made with egg yolks, vinegar, tarragon and other flavorings.

boil To heat a liquid until bubbles break the surface, or to cook food in boiling liquid.

bouillon Broth made by boiling meat or vegetables in water. The water is strained away from the meat or vegetables and becomes the broth. Bouillon is a popular base for soups and sauces, and is available in instant and powdered form.

broil To cook food directly under direct, intense heat.

bake to cook food with dry, indirect heat, usually in an oven.

baste to pour oil, drippings, or other liquids like stock over food as it cooks to keep it moist.

beat to combine food by quickly stirring it with a whisk, spoon, or electric mixer.

blanch to cook food in boiling water then immediately place it in cold/ice water to halt the cooking process.

blend combining a number of ingredients to form a smooth paste or mixture.

boil to heat a liquid until rolling bubbles break the surface, or to cook food in boiling liquid.

braise to quickly sear food then cook it at low heat for a long time in a covered dish. Braising helps to tenderize tougher foods and develop their flavors.

bread to coat food with bread or cracker crumbs. Most breaded foods are baked or fried; the breading helps keep the food moist and gives it a crispy crust.

broil to cook food directly under direct, intense heat.


coddle to cook food in liquid that is just below boiling.

confit cooking meat on a low heat in its own fat.

cure to cook a food item without heat by packing it with salt mixture to draw out moisture.]

caramelize Process of heating food to break down its natural sugars. Caramelization gives foods a sweet, nutty flavor and causes them to brown.

catouche A piece of paper that is used to cover the saucepan or pot to prevent steam from escaping or skin developing over a sauce.

cornstarch A very fine, powdery corn flour used to thicken dishes like sauces, soups and puddings.

cube To cut food into small, even cubes, larger than pieces that are diced or minced.

curry A popular Indian dish made with meat, vegetables, and curry sauce. Also, a flavorful spice mixture from South Asia made with up to twenty different spices commonly used in Indian cooking.


deep fry to cook food by fully submerging it in hot oil. Makes food very crispy.

de-fat to remove fat from something, like trimming solid fat from meat or skimming rendered fat off the top of soups and stocks.

deglaze to add liquid like stock, wine to loosen the stuck bits of food on the bottom of the pan.

dissolve to mix a dry ingredient into a wet ingredient until the dry is no longer visible and is completely combined with the wet.

dollop a small amount of food like yoghurt, whipped cream, that have been formed into a roundish shape.

dress to add a dressing to a salad, or to prepare meat for cooking by cleaning it.

drizzle to slowly pour liquid over food.

dice To cut food into tiny cubes.


emulsify to make an emulsion. An emulsion is a combination of two liquids that don’t normally mix together (oil and water), typically made by slowly adding one of the liquids into the other and mixing quickly to combine them evenly .


ferment to break down or change food through the use of yeast and other microorganisms. Fermentation is used to produce many alcohols and cheeses.

flake to break food into small pieces or layers, usually done with a fork.

flambé to sprinkle food with liquor and briefly light the liquor on fire before serving.

fold to combine a light, airy mixture with a heavier, creamier one. The light mixture is added on top of the heavy one and it is mixed by going down through both mixtures, around and up the side of the bowl, and folding them over the top. Folding keeps the air bubbles in the lighter mixture from being destroyed, so the final product will be smooth and light.

forage to find your own food. People often forage for wild berries and edible mushrooms.

freeze to store something at freezing temperatures.

frost to decorate a cake or cookie with frosting.

filet,fillet Any boneless piece of meat, poultry, game, or fish. Also, to cut meat, poultry, game, or fish away from bones to create a filet.

frittata An Italian omelet. Unlike omelets which are cooked quickly over high heat and fold their fillings inside,frittatas have toppings mixed into the eggs and are firm because they are cooked for a long time at low heat.


garnish to add decoration to a dish, usually an edible one, such as fresh herbs.

glaze to cover food in a thin, shiny liquid.Glazes can be sweet or savory.

grease to coat the surface of a pan with grease or shortening to prevent food from sticking to the pan.

griddle to cook food on a griddle or other large flat pan that doesn’t require using lots of oil. Griddles are commonly used to cook pancakes and sandwiches.

grill to cook on a grill, over an open flame or hot coals.

grindto crush food like salts, seeds, spices and coffee beans into very small particles or powder.

ganache A rich, semisweet chocolate mixture used as an icing and a filling for desserts. Semisweet chocolate and cream are melted and blended, then either cooled and poured over cakes, or whipped and used as a filling.

gelatin A thickening agent. Gelatin has no flavor or color and is used when making jellies, puddings, and other dishes that need to be thickened.

gluten A protein in wheat that makes a dough made with flour stretchy and fluffy.

gratin A topping that forms a brown crust under a hot grill, like breadcrumbs or grated cheese.


hard-boil,hard-cook To cook something, typically an egg, in boiling water until it is cooked through and solid.

heavycream A rich cream with a high milk fat content. Heavy cream is commonly used to make whipped cream and ice cream.

hollandaise A rich, creamy sauce made of egg yolks and butter and usually flavored with lemon juice and pepper. Hollandaise is commonly used to top poached eggs, fish, and vegetables like asparagus.

horseradish Large, spicy root vegetable. The radish is large and white and has long green leaves that are also edible. Horseradish is available fresh, dried, and jarred, and is usually used in sauces or as a condiment.

hull  the husk, shell or external covering of a fruit.


infuse to soak an ingredient into a liquid until the liquid takes on the flavour of the ingredient.

induction cooking Induction stovetops use energy to cook food instead of direct heat. While only pans constructed with induction-suitable bases can be used on induction cooktops, they provide excellent temperature control.


julienne a knife cut where the shape resembles matchsticks.


knead to mix dough by hand or machine into a smooth, stretchy mass that is easy to work with.

kimchi,kimchee, gimchi, gimchee Spicy pickle condiment from Korea. Kimchi is made by pickling cabbage with chilies to preserve the cabbage. Kimchi is commonly used in Asian and especially Korean cooking.


lace to add extra flavorings such as spices or alcohol to food to make it more flavorful.

lard to insert a piece of fat or bacon into a piece of lean meat that might be dry without the addition of the extra fat.

leaven to add a leavening agent like eggs, yeast, or baking soda to make batters and doughs rise.

line to cover the inside of a pan or dish. Linings can be everything from wax paper to prevent food from sticking to pieces of food that will form the outside of a dish and add texture, flavor, and structure.

legume A plant with seed pods that have edible seeds. Some of the more common legumes are beans, lentils, and peanuts.


macerate to soak a fruit/dry fruit in a liquid so that it takes the flavour of the liquid.

marinate to soak food in a marinade to flavor or tenderize the food.

marinade, marinate Any liquid or sauce that a food sits in for a period of time in order to flavor the food or change its texture; to marinate is the process of letting a food sit in a marinade.

meringue Whipped egg whites and sugar. Meringue can be used as a creamy, moist topping for pies and cakes or piped onto a cookie sheet and baked until firm and dry. Meringues can be many different flavors and are often filled with different sauces.

molasses A thick, sweet syrup made during the sugar refining process. Molasses is usually used in baking and sauces.

morel An edible mushroom. A morel has an unusual-looking, cone-shaped cap and is very spongy. Morels have a very strong smoky, nutty flavor and are available fresh, dried, and canned.

mousse A rich, fluffy dish that can be savory or sweet. Mousse can be very creamy and rich or light and fluffy depending on whether it is served hot or cold and how it was prepared.

mozzarella Soft white cheese made from cow’s milk. Available fresh, packaged in water, prepared, things like shredded and string cheese. Often used in Italian cooking, such as in pizzas, pastas, and salads.


nutmeg An aromatic spice often used in baking, made of ground seeds from the nutmeg tree. The flavor is often described as “warm” and sweet.


oregano A member of the mint family, oregano has large, flat, green leaves that can be eaten fresh or dried. Oregano has a very strong flavor and is commonly used in Italian cuisine.


panfry to cook food in a small amount of hot oil over medium-high heat on the stove.

pané to coat in breadcrumbs.

parboil to slightly boil the food to soften them, generally, before roasting.

peel to remove the rind or skin, usually of a fruit or vegetable, using a knife or peeler.

pickle to preserve food in a brine or vinegar mixture. Vegetables like cucumbers and peppers are commonly pickled.

poach to cook food in almost-boiling liquid.

prep Short for to prepare; to do cooking preparation ahead of time. Prep work often means measuring out ingredients, chopping vegetables, cleaning fish, and other tasks that can be done beforehand to be ready to cook when it’s time.

preserve to prepare foods so that they can be stored for a long time. Some of the ways this is achieved are freezing, canning, pickling, drying, and salting.

pressure-cook to cook food using a pressure cooker. Pressure cookers cook food with very hot steam pressure and can cut cooking time down considerably without damaging the food.

purée to reduce solid foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to a perfectly smooth consistency. This is usually done with a blender or by forcing the food through a strainer.

pesto A sauce made of herbs, usually basil, finely blended with ground nuts, oil, and cheese. Often used as sauce for pasta and sandwiches. Commonly used in Italian cuisine.


reconstitute to change the texture of a dry food by soaking it in warm water.

reduce to simmer or boil a liquid like soup or gravy to intensify the flavor and thicken it.

refrigerate to cool or preserve food in a refrigerator.

render to melt away the fat from a food item, generally meat, on a low heat.

rest to let foods like dough and cooked meat sit untouched. Dough rises and retains its shape better if allowed to rest;cooked meat that is rested reabsorbs the juices released during cooking.

ripen to let food become ripe or riper; to allow foods like cheese, fruit, and vegetables get to or near peak maturity before using or eating.

rise to cover dough and set aside to allow it to double in size. Yeast causes dough to rise.

roast to oven-cook food, uncovered, at higher temperatures. Works best with tender meats and vegetables.

roll to coat something in a topping like nuts or powdered sugar; to make food into a ball shape; to roll out; to flatten food, usually dough, with a rolling pin.

roux cooking flour and fat together to use it as a thickener.


salt to add salt to foods for flavoring or to preserve foods using salt.

sauce to cover a food with or to add a sauce to food.

sauté to cook food quickly, often in a small amount of heated oil or melted butter.

score  to make shallow cuts on the surface of a food item to increase crispiness, render fat and flavour absorption.

sear to brown meat quickly on all sides in a very hot pan; this seals in juices and makes a nice crust on meat.

season to add spices to foods to improve their flavor.

seed to remove the seeds from foods.

shred to cut food into short, thin strips using a grater or by hand. Meat can be shredded by pulling it apart by hand or with utensils.

shuck to remove the outer covering of food; to shuck oysters,shuck an ear of corn.

simmer to cook food in liquid that’s just below the boiling point.

skim to remove something from the top of a liquid, such as rendered fat off the top of stock or soup.

skin to remove the skin of fruit, vegetables, or meat before or after cooking.

slice to cut food into slices, or into thin, even pieces.

smoke to preserve food by exposing it to smoke, either partially or totally cooking it in the process.Hot-smoking food heats it as well.

spoon to use a spoon to place foods like sauces over other food; to serve food with a spoon.

steep to soak dried ingredients in liquid so the ingredient takes on the flavour of the liquid.

stew to cover food in a small amount of liquid and cook for a long time at a low temperature. Stewing is done in a covered pot and is commonly used to cook tougher meats and vegetables.

stirfry to cook food quickly on high heat in little oil while stirring constantly.Stir frying is usually done in a wok or other large, open pan and is common in Asian cooking.

sweat to slowly cook vegetables in a small amount of oil or butter in a tightly covered pan. The vegetables cook in their own juices and don’t brown.

sweeten to make food sweeter by adding sugary or sweet ingredients like sugar, syrup, or fruits.

soufflé A French dish made with a creamy egg yolk sauce and beaten egg whites. The beaten egg whites make the dish light and fluffy. Soufflés can be sweet or savory, can be prepared by baking, freezing, or chilling the soufflé mixture, and are usually served with a sauce.

sweetbreads Thymus glands of young cows and sheep. Sweetbreads must be soaked and blanched before cooking and are usually grilled or fried.


temper to heat and cool food, usually chocolate, multiple times to make it easier to work with and give it a glossy finish.

tenderize to make food, usually meat, more tender by pounding, marinating, or slow-cooking it.

thicken to add a thickening agent like flour or cornstarch to food, usually a sauce or soup, to make it thicker. Thickening can also be achieved by boiling food to evaporate some of the liquid.

toss to combine ingredients by lightly mixing them together.

trim to remove unwanted or inedible parts of food; trimming the fat off of steak.

tempura Japanese style of deep frying. Seafood and vegetables are coated in a thin batter, quickly deep-fried, and served hot and crisp with soy-flavored sauce.

terrine A pâté made in a terrine, a long stone dish. The terrine is a meat or vegetable mixture that is cooked then allowed to cool before being sliced and served.

truffle A mushroom that grows underground, mostly found in France and Italy. Truffles are difficult to grow and find, so they are very expensive.

dessert truffle is usually chocolate melted with cream, sugar, and other flavorings, cooled and shaped into a ball, then rolled in cocoa powder, nuts, or other flavorings for easier handling.


udon Japanese rice-flour noodles, similar to spaghetti noodles. Udon is available fresh and dried in most Asian markets. Udon also refers to a soup or other dish featuring udon noodles.

umami The fifth “flavor,” after sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Umami means “delicious” or “savory”. Once it was determined that monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a major source of umami flavor, MSG was added to many dishes, especially in Asian cooking to increase the umami content.

underdone Food that is not completely cooked.


whip to incorporate air into food by beating it quickly, usually with a fork, whisk or machine.

whisk to mix ingredients together or to whip air into something using a whisk,a utensil made of loops of metal wires.


yeast Microorganism that eats sugars, causes dough to rise, and helps in the fermentation process.

yolk Yellow part inside an egg. Holds all of the fats in an egg, good source of protein.

yogurt,yoghurt A thick, creamy dairy product.Yogurt can be flavored in the same ways ice cream can and is often served frozen like ice cream.


zest To scrape off the outermost, colourful peel of a citrus fruit. Used to flavour or garnish dishes.