Culinary Lingo

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Braise, broil, poach, simmer — what does it all mean? Whether you are new to the kitchen or just need a refresher, understanding the basics of common cooking techniques will help you navigate through recipes and get healthy meals on the table with ease. Here are some terms and definitions to get you started.

The Terms

  • Braise: to simmer over low heat in liquid-water, broth or even fruit juice in a covered pot for a lengthy time.
  • Broil: to cook with direct heat, usually under a heating element in the oven.
  • Grill: to cook with heat directly over hot coals or another heat source.
  • Panbroil: to cook uncovered in a preheated, nonstick skillet without added fat or water.
  • Poach: to cook gently in liquid, just below boiling.
  • Roast: to cook uncovered with dry heat in the oven.
  • Sauté: to cook quickly in a small amount of fat, stirring so the food browns evenly.
  • Simmer: to cook slowly in liquid, just below boiling.
  • Steam: to cook with steam heat over (not in) boiling water, or wrapped in foil or leaf (such as lettuce or banana leaves) packets over boiling water or on a grill.
  • Stew: to cook in liquid, such as water, juice, wine, broth or stock, in a tightly covered pot over low heat.
  • Stir-fry: to cook small pieces of meat, poultry, fish, seafood and/or vegetables in a very small amount of oil, perhaps with added broth, over very high heat, stirring as you cook.

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