The Chef Dictionary – Words
And Sayings Used By Chefs
To follow the common kitchen terms used by chefs in professional kitchens. When you work in a kitchen for the first time you will discover a lot of unusual words and kitchen terms. Many of these words have been taken from the French language such as; mise en place and a la carte. An a la carte menu is very different from a set price menu. Mise en place is a term I use as a chef which means a list of all the preparation work that needs to be done.
In-Depth Explanations For Starters
Learn What These Common Kitchen Terms And Sayings Used In Professional Kitchens Mean
Al dente, Baste, Blanch, Broil, Caramelise, Clarify, Deglaze, Dice, Dissolve, Dredge, Flambe, Garnish, Julienne, Parboil, Poach, Refresh, Saute, Score, Pane.
Kitchen Terms And Sayings 1 – 20
Key Words – Beurre Noir | Aromatics | Aspic
Meats and cheeses can be aged. The food will be kept in a controlled environment over an exact time. This will bring out the natural flavours and helps in tenderising foods.
Al dente is an Italian term used in pasta cooking. The pasta will be cooked to a slightly firm texture and will have a bite to it.
Adding flavours to foods, aromatics may include herbs, spices and vegetables.
This is a meaty flavoured jelly. Once the aspic is cold it will set. It is used to add moisture and flavour to cold foods such as pates
There are good types and bad types of bacteria. The bad bacteria are the ones that cause illness. Good bacteria, like the bacteria used in blue cheese, add flavour and colour.
When baking a cake, it is known as: to bake. Other foods can be baked including; salt baked fish. Where the food is baked in an oven.
Foods being grilled over open charcoal or a wood fire.
Basting is a cooking word meaning; to spoon juices, fat or liquid over a food whilst it is still cooking. This helps to keep the ingredient moist.
You can make a cake batter used in baking. Or a batter used in making battered fish or vegetables. There are cake batters, beer batters or tempura and are a mixture of flour and other liquids.
Mixing with a spoon, spatula or on an electric mixer rapidly.
Heating a butter until it is dark brown in colour.
A shellfish soup often using lobster, it can be thickened and cream added at the end.
A cooking method using foods that have been highly seasoned. Often using a Cajun spice mix and cooked on a high heat.
Means to part boil a vegetable until it is half cooked in boiling salted water. The food will be placed in iced water to cool once blanched.
Blending two or more ingredients into an even mixture. Commonly being done with a stick blender or thermomixer.
Liquids are heated to 100 degrees Celsius and left on a rolling boil.
This is a fish soup with tomatoes, fennel, wine and saffron added.
A bunch of seasonings tied and left to flavour soups, braised foods and stocks. Such as; bay leaf and thyme, tied in a leek leaf.
A food slowly cooked submerged in a liquid. Braised foods can include; pork belly, shin of beef or leeks.
Foods will be dipped in flour, eggs and finally coated in breadcrumbs. They can be deep fried or pan fried with panko breadcrumbs giving a crispier finish.
Kitchen Terms And Sayings 21 – 40
Key Words – Butterfly | Caramel | Clarify
Browning can be done at the beginning of cooking or at the end depending on the dish. The outside will be browned to add flavour and look great.
Coating foods using a pastry brush with butter or a glaze.
A frosting for cakes made from sugar, butter, eggs and flavours being added.
A chicken breast will often be butterflied. The breast will be cut down the centre but not completely cut in half and opened up.
The word calamari has the same meaning as squid
Sugar that has been cooked down to a dark brown colour. Often used in pastry, such as a crème Brulee topping.
Many foods can be caramelised when the natural sugars are released and cooked down. This is what gives onions or carrots the golden dark colours when cooked for a long period of time.
A small lettuce often used in salads needs a good dressing or to be grilled as it can be very bitter.
To cut lettuce or herbs into thin strips
Used to remove small particles of food from soups or sauces. It has a fine mesh fitted in a conical shape.
Foods cut into rough pieces with no set size.
Making a liquid clear such as butter soups or stocks.
Another word used for the coating of a food in breadcrumbs
Making a single mixture from several ingredients
Slowly cooking meat or vegetables in animal fat, oil or butter. Duck legs are common to use the confit method coming in duck or goose fat.
Peeling, deseeding and dicing raw tomatoes.
Removing the centre of fruits such as apples;
Beating ingredients together until light and fluffy, including butter and sugar for a cake base.
Seals the edges of pies together, often using a fork to press, seal and leave a crimped edge.
A small breaded rolled fried food often ingredients are mixed with mash potato.
Kitchen Terms And Sayings 41 – 60
Key Words – Curdle | Cure | Devil
Break a food down to small pieces using a pestle or mortar or a rolling pin.
To cut ingredients into even sizes with the same size sides.
Tart filling made with eggs, sugar, and commonly lemon juice and zest.
The separation of milk or cream when overcooked;
Cure – Curing
Marinate foods with salt, sugar and spices. Often used for gravadlax.
A mix of eggs, sugar and cream cooked with or without a bain-marie on a low heat.
Cooking foods in hot oil until golden brown
Dissolving the bits and juices stuck to the bottom and sides of a pan after cooking using a liquid such as red wine.
Adding a hot ingredient to a food such as cayenne pepper or tobacco sauce.
A uniform cut can be small, medium or large dice
The food is cooked directly over a heat or flame.
A dry ingredient that has been placed in a liquid and formed a solution with the liquid.
A mix of ingredients such as flour, water and a yeast. A dough is commonly used in making bread.
Coating an ingredient in flour and knocking off the excess;
Trickling a liquid such as olive oil over a vegetable
Light coating a food with icing sugar or sprinkling flour over a work surface before working a dough
Used to coat baked foods before or during cooking. The egg wash is made of beaten eggs.
A mix of oil and a liquid. A vinegarette is made by emulsifying oil, vinegar and mustard.
A meat that has been cut away from the bone. Often a fish filet that has been skinned too.
The cut of meat from the small end of the beef tenderloin
Kitchen Terms And Sayings 61 – 80
Key Words – Flambe | Flan | Gratin
The skill to remove the bones from meat or fish. And finish with the filet.
Removing the impurities from soups and sauces
Setting fire to the alcohol in a food to burn off in flames.
An open tart made with sweet or savoury ingredients.
Breaking a food into smaller pieces
Gently combine two or more ingredients using a side to side action
Hot creamy melted cheese mixture
Stewed foods cut into small pieces served in a thick white sauce, I make a great mushroom fricassee: )
A baked omelette that is served flat and is not folded
A sweet or savoury food that is covered in batter and deep fried
Cooking food in hot oil until golden brown
A coating made of chocolate and cream for cake decorating or making truffles.
Decorating a dish with an ingredient from picked herbs to a tuille
The insides of poultry including the gizzard can be used in a sauce
Giving a food a shiny surface with a melted glaze such as apricot glaze
Gives dough its elasticity
Using a grater to break food down into tiny pieces
Often used for gratin potatoes. Sliced potatoes are mixed with cream and cheese, set and cooked. More cheese added to the top and finished under the grill
A sauce made from the drippings of the meat and thickened
Foods cooked directly over a heat can be on cooking racks or rods
Kitchen Terms And Sayings 61 – 80
Key Words – Hash | Hull | Julienne
Break food down into small pieces using a machine
A food that has been shaped and pan fried. Made with leftover meats and potatoes.
Herbes de Provence
A mix of herbs that have been blended and commonly used in southern France.
Another word for canapes these are small portions of food
Taking out the stems of fruits including, olives and strawberries
Soaking ingredients in a liquid to extract the flavours.
A Jamaican bbq seasoning. Ingredients include; chillies, thyme, garlic, allspice, ginger and cinnamon.
Cutting an ingredient into thin strips
The juices collected at the bottom of a roasting pan
Working a dough until it becomes smooth and elastic
A coarse salt used by many chefs instead of table salt
The ingredient that causes the rising process in baked goods
Lining a tray with parchment paper or spray to prevent sticking
A part of the meat that comes from the back of the animal
The temperature in between hot and cold.
A type of pasta that is cooked in water and made into dishes such as; macaroni cheese
Creating a ribbon effect in cooked foods
A seasoned liquid used to marinate and enhance the flavour of foods.
The process of using the marinade to flavour foods
A mixture of ground almonds, glucose and sugar used in pastry
Kitchen Terms And Sayings 81 – 100
Key Words – Medallion | Moisten | Papillote
Making a smooth mix of food, such as potatoes being pushed through a drum sieve.
A chilled sauce made with egg yolks, mustard and oil
A small round portion of meat including pork or veal
There are 3 types of meringue all using egg whites as a base ingredient
To break foods down into tiny pieces using chopping dicing or a mincing machine.
Used to add flavour to sauces, onions, carrot, celery and leeks can all be used.
Combining two or more ingredients together until fully mixed
Adding a liquid to a dry mix, just enough to slightly dampen the ingredient
An Italian cheese with a mild flavour
Heating wine with spices, sugar and other juices.
Cooking food in a pan and removing any fat that builds up in the bottom
Adding food to a hot pan with a little oil and turning a couple of times to cook
Foods are cooked in a packet made of parchment paper or foil. The food will steam in its own juices.
Another word for blanching. Means to partly cook food in salted water.
Parchment paper is a non-stick paper used to line trays to prevent foods from sticking during cooking.
There are two main types of peaks, soft and stiff peaks. These peaks describe cream or egg whites that have been whipped up and used in many desserts.
The removing of the outer skin of fruits and vegetables.
Traditional pesto is made with fresh basil, olive oil, garlic, toasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Although a pesto can be made with a range of herbs and ingredients.
The method of preserving vegetables in a brine solution.
Roughly the amount that can be held between the thumb and forefinger.
Kitchen Terms And Sayings 101 – 120
Key Words – Pit | Puree |Rolling Boil
Piping cream or other soft foods through a piping bag. A range of nozzles can be placed inside the piping bag each giving a different style of finish.
Taking out the seed or stone from a fruit such as a plum.
A food is simmered in a liquid, such as a chicken breast just below boiling point.
Cooking foods in a sealed container using steam to create high temperatures. This achieves a much quicker cooking time.
The growth of yeast in a dough product before baking.
After a dough has risen it needs to be knocked back by punching down.
A slightly thick sauce that has been passed through a fine mesh/ Chinoise.
A small dish often used to make a Brulee, suitable for use in the oven.
Taking out the water content of liquids by boiling. This can also be known as a reduction where the moisture evaporates and the flavours increase.
Dampening or soaking vegetables with cold water to keep the freshly cooked appearance.
Melting the solid fat on a food to a liquid fat and discarding or reuse.
For meats, resting a meat after cooking to keep the juices locked in before cutting
Leaving a dough in a warm place to increase in volume.
Cooking a food in the oven uncovered on a dry heat.
Boiling continuously and very fast
A mix used to thicken sauces or soups. Made of 50/50 flour and fat
The icing used for decorating cakes sets fast and becomes solid
A gas or electric grill often used to toast or glaze foods
A thickened liquid that adds flavour and wetness to foods
Cooking a food with a small amount of oil over a direct heat quickly
Kitchen Terms And Sayings 121 – 140
Key Words – Season | Sift | Smoking Point
Making a few shallow slits in fish or meats
Browning meat on the outside at a high temperature to add flavour
Improve the flavour of foods by adding seasonings such as; salt, pepper and spices
Food turns from a liquid consistency to a solid
Tearing food into strips, usually by hand. Such as a confit duck leg or a braised pork belly.
Passing dry ingredients including flour and sugar through a sieve to remove lumps.
Heating a liquid to just below boiling point and adding foods to cook.
Taking the layer of fat that rises to the top of stocks, soups and sauces.
The point when a heated fat starts to break down and smoke.
A spring-loaded tin often used for baking cakes. Uses a collar that fits around a base and the collar can be removed after baking.
Cooking foods over a pan of boiling water or in a steamer.
The steel is used to sharpen knives. Two main types are a honing steel and a diamond steel.
Infusing dry ingredients in a liquid by soaking them possibly overnight.
Using steam, dry heat or boiling water to kill microorganisms
Simmering meats/vegetables in a liquid over long periods of time.
Small pieces of meats or vegetables being cooked at a high temperature using a little oil. Used a lot in Asian cooking often in a wok.
The liquid that is left after simmering bones such as veal and fish. Vegetables, herbs and other seasonings can be added as well.
Releasing the moisture of vegetables by slowly cooking in a pan. This will enhance the flavour and the food will look translucent.
Adding more liquid to a sauce to reduce the thickness.
Combining a mix of ingredients, often in a pan using an upward motion.
Kitchen Terms And Sayings 141 – 148
Key Words – Vichyssoise | Water bath | Zest
Tieing a roast together before cooking. This helps to keep the meats shape.
Goods that have been baked using no rising agent including, eggs or yeast.
A cold leek and potato soup.
A dressing made with 1/3 vinegar to oil. Mustard and other seasonings can be added.
This is a container with water added that can be set to a temperature. Foods can be cooked inside using bags or pans set on top.
Mixing air into creams or eggs by whisking them vigorously until fluffy.
The tool used for whisking. Used to whip creams and eggs.
The outer part of a citrus fruit. Often cut or peeled into strips.
These are all kitchen terms, sayings and words that are used by pro chefs.