Throw on your apron because it's time to cook!
The flavorsome art of cooking is simply a play of some primary techniques. Combine them with a few ingredients, and you are good to go. You can easily find your way around the kitchen by just knowing the nitty-gritty.
Learn all about these seventeen basic cooking techniques, put them to practice, and prepare a spread of the tastiest food every time.
- Sous Vide
With these cooking techniques, you can skillfully prepare and present food. Let's take a look at each one of them at length. But first, let's start with 'chopping' because that's where cooking begins.
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Before heading out to try any of the cooking methods, you must brush up on your chopping skills. The shape and size of an ingredient you cut can make or break a dish. Therefore, know the fundamentals of chopping.
Firstly, find the perfect knife. A recommended tool for chopping are:
- Chef's knife
- Paring knife
- Serrated knife
The next logical step is to practice how to hold the knife properly.
When done, research how each ingredient is chopped and the types of chopping methods. A list of the commonly used ones is given below:
- Chiffonade - It is used to cut herbs and leafy vegetables like mint, spinach, basil, and kale in a long, ribbon style.
- Brunoise - A brunoise cuts ingredients into juliennes and then turns to cut dice to form cubes. For example, carrots, onions, bell peppers, and other hard root vegetables.
- Dice - A dice cut is used for chopping things into small squares.
- Julienne - Also known as the French cut, it is used to cut ingredients into long stripes. It is often used for cutting vegetables for salads like cucumbers, carrots, zucchini, etc.
- Mincing - It is a popular chopping technique that forms very minute pieces and is used for aromatics like ginger, garlic, onions. It is also applicable to meat.
Baking is a method of food preparation using low to medium dry heat for a specified period, typically in an oven. Knowing how to bake can help you make your own bread, pastries, cakes, cookies, croissants, and a lot more.
It is a creative skill that you can master by knowing these essentials:
- Careful timing and organization
- Knowledge of temperature conditions and measurements
- Creative power to experiment
- Dedication to learning
If you are a beginner, focus on perfecting the essentials (mentioned above).
To master baking as a cooking technique, pay attention to these:
- Follow the recipe closely
- Know your ingredients
- Invest in good measuring and baking equipment
- Experiment a bit
- Enjoy the process
Sautéing is a method where you fry food in a shallow pan with a little oil or fat. Sauté comes from the French word Sauter that means 'to jump.' Thereby, it requires constant stirring on high heat. It is a skilful method to make tenderly chopped items that require quick cooking.
The sauté technique is commonly used for sliced chicken, steak, and vegetables like onion, capsicum, garlic, mushrooms, beans, etc.
The technique of stir-frying originated in China and is highly utilized in the West and Asian countries. Stir-fry, as the name suggests, is frying things in a small amount of oil on a very high flame. It is to be done in a shallow pan or a flat-bottomed wok. All you need to begin with stir fry is:
- Ingredients can range from vegetables, seafood, aromatics, and meat.
- Preparation of ingredients by chopping them thin or finely in a bowl.
- Stir-fry them in a pan and then add the mix to a wok.
Try this technique to prepare food as it is considered healthier than boiling.
People are always confused between a stir-fry and sauté. The only difference between the two is that stir-fry requires higher heat to cook faster and doesn't make use of butter. Also, the ingredients are chopped fine and thin for stir-fry.
It is a cooking technique used in grilling, sautéing, baking, and braising where you prepare food at a very high temperature in oil so that the surface of the ingredient turns brown. Pan searing is very commonly used to cook fish, meat, seafood, and poultry. Searing is all about building flavour on scorching heat, allowing the surface to caramelize and develop.
Grilling is another technique that uses a grill or a metal grate over burning coals, charcoal fire, gas flame, or firewood. The dry heat sears the food and enters it through radiation. It brings a smokey, charred taste to the dish with a flavoursome, brown crust.
It is the tastiest technique of all but is also the unhealthiest. When you deep-fry an ingredient, you totally submerge it in ultra-hot oil or fat in a deep/wide pan. This attributes a golden, crispy coating to them. The Deep-fry technique is used in most fast foods.
Steaming, just like poaching, is a healthy, moist-heat method of food preparation. It requires no added oil or fat. Food is simply cooked from the steam rising from boiling water. The ingredients retain their nutrition and flavour because the steam from boiling water gently cooks them. It results in a moist food texture that is very palatable. This technique is a highly convenient method of cooking for all beginners. You can use steam for:
- Boiled eggs
- Meat and poultry
Stewing is another combination cooking method where ingredients are cooked in a liquid. It is the ideal way to make vegetables and meat with rich gravy or broth. You can stew your ingredients in an oven, a slow cooker, or even on the stove. It is somewhat similar to braising, but stewing demands uniformly cut ingredients to be entirely submerged in liquid.
Roasting, just like baking, cook's food with dry heat in an oven, a rotisserie, or a rotating spit. The chief difference between the two is that the former requires higher temperatures (above 400°F) and aims to build a delicious crust on the outside.
You can easily prepare a roasted spread of vegetables (cauliflower, carrots, broccoli potato, pumpkin, squash, turnips) and meat (whole roast chicken or turkey).
Another technique to fix tasty dishes is braising. It begins by pan-searing food at high temperatures and then slow-cooking it in a covered pan with some liquid to add flavour. Since it uses two methods, braising is combination-cooking using wet and dry heats.
Larger or whole pieces of meat are cooked in this method.
Simmering is a toned-down, gentler form of boiling. Here foods are cooked in liquid below the boiling point of water at a temperature of 185-200°F. It is a moist-heat cooking method. The food is prepared in a covered pan with slight bubbles and steam formation on the surface, maintaining the structure of each individual ingredient. Simmering takes more time than boiling. You can simmer -
Boiling is by far the simplest way to cook food. It is a moist-heat technique that makes use of a liquid or water at high temperatures. Boiling is not suited for delicate ingredients and is best for sturdier foods. Anything from root vegetables, grains, pasta, eggs, and rice can be made by boiling.
All you need is to maintain the high temperature of the liquid at all times.
Beginners often used the two methods of simmering and boiling interchangeably. However, they are both different preparation methods. When you cook by boiling, there is a formation of rapid bubbles and steam but simmering is much milder with no sudden movements in the pan. Boiling is quick (depending on the ingredient) and aggressive, while simmering is slow and gradual.
This is the most heard culinary technique. It is specially used while making eggs. In this cooking technique, you put liquid (water, milk, stock, or wine) in a pan and submerge food into it. It is also a moist-heat cooking method like boiling and is used for making delicate items with elegance but at a much lower temperature. You can poach:
It is one of the healthiest ways to cook food with minimum added fat or oil.
You can also cook using broiling. It is similar to roasting in many respects. Here too, the food is exposed to high temperatures and direct heat to give it a crusty caramelized texture. But a key difference is that broiling is done in an oven with the heat source on the top and needs no special grilling equipment.
It is a food preparing and storing technique.
You dip ingredients in boiling salted water for a short time, take it out and allow it to cool down with an ice bath. This is a great technique to loosen or soften vegetables (like greens beans, carrots, corn, broccoli, okra cauliflower) and fruits (like tomato and peach).
After cooking the food by blanching, you can store and preserve it.
Sous vide is a low temperature extended cooking technique. For this, you need to seal food in a plastic bag and place it in a container filled with water. The water is heated to a predetermined temperature to cook by immersion. Sous vide is French for "under vacuum" and perfectly describes this technique. It can be majorly used to cook sturdier vegetables like potatoes, squash, pumpkin, asparagus, brussels, and carrots.
That was a thorough list of cooking techniques that help prepare the most savoury dishes. A good chef or a food enthusiast is someone who knows the right way to deal with different ingredients. Therefore, begin your journey with cooking by getting familiar with food items.
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