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Cooking Concepts & Terms for Beginners

Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 12:27 am UTC
by sardia
We were all novices at some point in our lives, and sometimes we forget how much experienced cooks stand on the shoulders of giants. Here are some basic concepts and terms used to describe cooking.

Umami
Spoiler:
one of the 6 tastes. The others are salt, sweet, sour, bitter, and rancidity(of fat). This is a pleasant savory taste that comes from glutamates from several sources. The big ones are tomatoes, fishes like anchovies (fish sauce), soy sauce, msg, mushrooms, and most animals. All have high levels of glutamates/umami. Most bottled versions are concentrated, and only a splash is needed to boost flavor levels. Just like you wouldn't chug vinegar, don't judge it based on the intense aroma and flavor. Instead taste it after stirring a bit into the dish.
Discard X after simmering- many flavorful compounds are fat or water soluble. Flavor compounds aren't infinite, and are distributed by osmosis/diffusion. In addition, some flavor enhancers aren't tasty after they been simmered. It makes sense to discard them. Examples Bay leaf, bones, cheap vegetables.

Cooking temperature- water in food boils at 212F and will not go higher until the liquid water boils off. This affects Browning/searing food.
"sugar is a liquid ingredient" - could be remembering the quote wrong but heard it on Good Eats and it makes recipes make sooooo much more sense.
Some major methods of cooking:
Spoiler:
Braising-cooking in a liquid. Stews are braises, so is chili and pot roast.
Roasting-cooking in dry heat, usually in an oven. Baking is basically roasting.
Deep frying-frying in enough fat to submerge the food being cooked.
Sautéing-cooking in a small amount of fat.
Boiling-cooking in a large amount of water.
Steaming-cooking in a closed vessel, with the food being cooked elevated over the liquid.
These days there is also Sous-vide cooking, where the food is sealed in a bag before being submerged in water heated to a precise temperature.

Gelatin
Spoiler:
most people taste gelatin from Jell-O desserts, lip smacking sauces from restaurants, and eating stew. Gelatin is extracted when you boil bones for soup stock or cooking tough cuts of meat for a long time (BBQ ,/stew). The collagen in connective tissue of cheap tough meat turns into gelatin under heat and time.

Bullion cubes- a beef bullion cubes is beef broth that has no water.
Broth- beef broth is beef fat with flavoring, and salt with water.
Stock
Spoiler:
bones Simmered in water with herbs. Most expensive of the three liquids. For some reason, store bought beef stock has less gelatin and tastes worse than chicken stock. Home made is best, but not always practical . Chicken stock in a beef dish won't hurt the beefy taste. It's ok to swap to get the superior gelatin and flavor of chicken stock. It's the fat that makes food taste distinctive of that animal. Fun fact adding lamb fat to lean beef makes it tastes like lamb.

Searing - to brown food/meat/veggies on a hot pan, usually with fat to conduct heat faster. Purpose is to improve flavor. Downside overcooks the layer underneath the browned/seared area.
Fond - when brown bits of food get stuck to the pan instead of your food or mouth. It's tasty, 5 stars on Yelp.
Deglazing
Spoiler:
using a liquid to recover the Fond stuck on the pan. Pour water onto a pan that has fond on it. Stir the pan to help suspend tasty Fond particles, and then pour onto your food. Water is bland, so most people use leftover wine, broth, or stock.

Reducing-concentrating flavor by evaporating water from a liquid. If you reduce with an oven, it's possible for the liquids on the surface of a pot to evaporate enough water that it enables browning. Say the bubbly browned cheese in a potato gratin.

Edit 3/1/19 Compiled the posts into 1.

Re: Cooking Concepts & Terms for Beginners

Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 1:22 am UTC
by sardia
Gelatin - most people taste gelatin from Jell-O desserts, lip smacking sauces from restaurants, and eating stew. Gelatin is extracted when you boil bones for soup stock or cooking tough cuts of meat for a long time (BBQ ,/stew). The collagen in connective tissue of cheap tough meat turns into gelatin under heat and time.

Bullion cubes- a beef bullion cubes is beef broth that has no water.

Broth- beef broth is beef fat with flavoring, and salt with water.

Stock- bones Simmered in water with herbs. Most expensive of the three liquids. For some reason, store bought beef stock has less gelatin and tastes worse than chicken stock. Home made is best, but not always practical . Chicken stock in a beef dish won't hurt the beefy taste. It's ok to swap to get the superior gelatin and flavor of chicken stock. It's the fat that makes food taste distinctive of that animal.
Fun fact adding lamb fat to lean beef makes it tastes like lamb.

Part 2 of x

Re: Cooking Concepts & Terms for Beginners

Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:00 am UTC
by PAstrychef
Some major methods of cooking:
Braising-cooking in a liquid. Stews are braises, so is chili and pot roast.
Roasting-cooking in dry heat, usually in an oven. Baking is basically roasting.
Deep frying-frying in enough fat to submerge the food being cooked.
Sautéing-cooking in a small amount of fat.
Boiling-cooking in a large amount of water.
Steaming-cooking in a closed vessel, with the food being cooked elevated over the liquid.
These days there is also Sous-vide cooking, where the food is sealed in a bag before being submerged in water heated to a precise temperature.

Re: Cooking Concepts & Terms for Beginners

Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:23 am UTC
by Sungura
"sugar is a liquid ingredient" - could be remembering the quote wrong but heard it on Good Eats and it makes recipes make sooooo much more sense.

Re: Cooking Concepts & Terms for Beginners

Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:04 pm UTC
by sardia
Umami - one of the 6 tastes. The others are salt, sweet, sour, bitter, and rancidity(of fat). This is a pleasant savory taste that comes from glutamates from several sources. The big ones are tomatoes, fishes like anchovies (fish sauce), soy sauce, msg, mushrooms, and most animals. All have high levels of glutamates/umami. Most bottled versions are concentrated, and only a splash is needed to boost flavor levels. Just like you wouldn't chug vinegar, don't judge it based on the intense aroma and flavor. Instead taste it after stirring a bit into the dish.

Discard X after simmering- many flavorful compounds are fat or water soluble. Flavor compounds aren't infinite, and are distributed by osmosis/diffusion. In addition, some flavor enhancers aren't tasty after they been simmered. It makes sense to discard them. Examples Bay leaf, bones, cheap vegetables.

Cooking temperature- water in food boils at 212F and will not go higher until the liquid water boils off. This affects Browning/searing food.

Re: Cooking Concepts & Terms for Beginners

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:09 pm UTC
by sardia
I've compiled the posts together. Not sure about the format, but can a mod delete the duplicate posts for me? I wrote this while bored on a road trip. I may add more during my next trip.

Re: Cooking Concepts & Terms for Beginners

Posted: Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:38 am UTC
by sttpeok
I am a newbie and this post will be helpful for me...