No menu will succeed if it features just frying or boiling. Customers look for variety not only in the ingredients but also in the methods of food preparation. You want to feature as many Western cooking techniques to highlight your kitchen’s expertise and mastery. Here’s a refresher to help you jump-start your culinary innovation.
There are two main types of Western cooking methods:
- Moist-heat cooking – uses different types of liquids to cook food.
- Dry-heat cooking – uses direct or indirect heat. Cooking with fats and oils falls under this type.
Most Western food menus feature a balance of both types. However, Asian food businesses are not left behind as they combine methods to come up with new dishes. Many modern recipes result from incorporating these techniques with traditional procedures.
Moist-Heat Cooking Methods
Blanching is placing food partially and briefly in water to remove external membranes, like liver and sweetbreads. Fruits and vegetables, like peaches and tomatoes, are blanched to avoid overcooking.
There are two ways to blanch in water:
- Place food in cool water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer.
- Place food in rapidly boiling water, then shock in ice-cold water.
You can also use oil for blanching. An example is chicken cordon bleu, which is blanched in oil until browned, then finished in the oven.
Poaching means cooking food by low-simmering or cooking below the boiling point. Use water, stock, or milk as the poaching liquid. Master this technique to make better eggs Benedict.
This method requires immersing food in water and bringing it to a boil. Preserve nutrients in food by boiling it for short durations.
Simmering involves immersing food in liquid and cooking between 185° and 205°F (85° and 96°C).
This technique directly exposes food to steam using steamers or other specific cookers. You can also steam food with a tightly wrapped or covered pan, cooking the dish in vapor formed by its moisture. Try making steamed glutinous rice or steamed fish with tofu.
Braising involves cooking food in a small amount of liquid for an extended period. Braised food is either brun (searing meat in a small amount of fat) or blanc (when meat is not seared). Use water, stock, a thin sauce, or a combination of these as the braising liquid. The Korean galbi jjim is an example of a braised dish.
Have you ever tried making duck confit? The technique involves preserving meat by salting and then slowly cooking in its fat. The cooked meat is packed into a pot and covered with more fat to seal and further preserve.
Dry-Heat Cooking Methods
Baking uses dry heat in an oven to cook vegetables, meats, dough, batters, fish, and poultry at 250° to 475°F (121° to 246°C) or higher. Some Western food examples that use this method are lasagna, baked salmon, or prawns Thermidor.
Roasting means oven-cooking food in an uncovered pan to produce a well-browned exterior and a moist interior. Try roasting your vegetables when making soup, like in this squash puree.
Grilling requires directly exposing food to radiant heat, such as charcoal or electric rods. Some Asian grilled dishes are chicken satay, inihaw na panga, and inasal.
This technique involves basting the food with a special sauce while grilling it in a covered pit. Use a very low temperature when using an oven and a higher temperature when barbecuing with a grill or broiler.
Broiling uses a heat source coming from the top to cook food. Use this technique to finish a dish with melted butter, browned cheese, or sugar for a brûlée.
Griddling is cooking food on a solid surface called a griddle.
This method requires preparing food in a sauté pan or skillet instead of on a griddle surface.
Dry-heat methods using fat
- Pan-frying is cooking food in a moderate amount of fat in a pan over medium heat.
- Sautéing uses a small amount of fat and cooks food quickly. Once ready, a liquid, such as wine or stock, is often swirled into the pan to dissolve browned bits stuck at the bottom. Deglazing, like when making beef pot roast, allows the liquid to become part of the sauce.
- Deep-frying requires submerging food in hot fat. Some of the best Western food use a breading or batter, acting as a protective coating from the fat. This also helps give the dish texture, color, and flavor.
Looking to expand your menu with a mix of classic and innovative offerings? Employ these Western cooking methods and discover how they can elevate even the simplest ingredients.
Need more dish ideas for your restaurant? Check out our FREE downloadable eBook, Classic Pinoy Favorites with a Twist, for more recipes and inspiration for your next dish!
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