Basic Techniques & Modern Conveniences Introduction
Though originating from the West, these methods are widely used in Asian cuisines as well. Knowing Western cooking methods provide the foundation for food preparation. There are 2 types of cooking methods:
- Moist heat that makes use of liquid to cook food.
- Dry heat that makes use of direct or indirect heat. Cooking using fat, such as oil, is classified as a dry heat method.
Moist heat methods
Placing food partially and briefly in water to remove external membranes from food such as liver and sweetbreads or fruits and vegetables such as peaches and tomatoes. There are 2 ways to blanch in water:
- Place food in cool water that is brought to a boil then a simmer.
- Place food in rapidly boiling water before removing it to cool in cold water.
Blanching in oil is done when ingredients are nearly cooked in deep oil, and then cooked completely just before serving. An example is breaded chicken cordon bleu, which is blanched in oil for browning before being placed in an oven.
Cooking food by low simmering or cooking below the boiling point. The liquid used could be stock, milk or others.
Immersing food in water and bringing it to a boil. Preserve nutrients in the food by boiling it for short durations.
Involves immersing food in liquid and cooking it between 85° and 96°C (185° and 205°F).
Directly exposing food to steam and is usually done in special steam cookers. Steaming can also be done with a tightly wrapped or covered pan so that the dish cooks in steam formed by its own moisture.
Using a small amount of liquid to cook food for a longer cooking period. Braised food may either be brun (meat seared in a small amount of fat) or blanc (when meat is not seared). The liquid can be water, stock, thin sauce or a combination.
Preserving meat by salting and slowly cooking it in its own fat. The cooked meat is then packed into a pot and covered with its cooking fat which seals and preserves the meat.
Dry heat methods
Using dry heat in an oven to cook vegetables, meats, dough, batters, fish and poultry at 121° to 246°C (250° to 475°F), or higher.
Oven-cooking food in an uncovered pan to produce a well-browned exterior and ideally a moist interior.
Directly exposing food to radiant heat. It is usually done over heat such as charcoal or an electric grill.
Basting food with a special sauce while grilling it in a covered pit. Use very low temperature when using an oven or a pit, and a higher temperature when barbequing using a grill or a broiler.
Using a heat source coming from the top to cook food, and is often used to finish a dish with melted butter, browned cheese or for brûlée treatments.
Cooking food on a solid surface called a griddle.
Prepare food in a sauté pan or skillet instead of on a griddle surface.
Dry heat methods using fat
Cooking food in a moderate amount of fat in a pan over moderate heat.
Using a small amount of fat and cooking food quickly. After a dish is sautéed, a liquid such as wine or stock is often swirled in the pan to dissolve browned bits of food sticking to the bottom. Called “deglazing”; the liquid becomes a part of the sauce served with the sautéed dish.
Submerging food in hot fat. Many foods are dipped in breading or batter before frying to provide a protective coating between food and fat. This also helps give the dish crispness, colour and flavour.
Congratulations, you’ve completed the Western Cooking Methods topic!
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