More Things Every Cook Needs to Know

Food/Cooking - Cooking
By: Wordsmith    
19-Mar-2013

Introduction:This list will conclude my two part list on basic cooking techniques for the beginning cook.

  • 01

    Steaming

    Steaming is a common cooking technique used in Asian cooking. The food is cooked while suspended above a liquid. Since the food is not actually in the liquid used to generate the steam, most of the foods nutrients remain in the food. The important things to keep in mind when employing this technique are that there must be enough room between the food items for the steam to pass freely between them and around them. You also must maintain the fluid level to within 1 or 2 inches below the food being steamed. Steam can produce serious burs so keep your hands and face away from the steam emanating from the open pot

  • 02

    Baking

    Baking simply means cooking food in the oven - usually uncovered - using indirect, dry heat. The term is often used when discussing foods like breads, cookies, muffins, and other, well, "baked goods" though it can also be used to describe savory foods like lasagna or chicken. Baked foods cook from the outside in, and the oven temperature varies from recipe to recipe.

  • 03

    Roasting

    Once the ovens heat reaches 400°F or above, the term roasting is used. This is one of the least hands-on cooking techniques, perfect for when you need to get dinner going but then have some other things clamoring for your attention before it's time to eat.

  • 04

    Broiling

    Broiling refers to cooking foods under a broiler, which can be a separate drawer in your oven, or may require you to place the top rack in your oven close to the roof the oven to be close to the heating element. The closer the rack is to the heat, the faster the food will brown and cook. The heat is direct and intense, and only the side of the food that is exposed to the heat will brown, so usually foods that are broiled have to be turned during the cooking process. Often the food is cooked on a rimmed baking sheet, which allows the food to be close to the heat source.

    Foods that take best to this cooking method are foods that cook through quickly, so they don't burn before they finish cooking inside. Seafood, chicken breasts, burgers, kebabs, quesadillas and the like are good candidates for broiling, and the technique can also be used to finish dishes like frittatas. Timing is of the essence, so when you are broiling any type of food, you should stay close and check inside the oven often.

  • 05

    Grilling

    Grilling is the technique of cooking foods over high heat. The food is exposed to the flames, and a browned, caramelized exterior quickly develops as the inside cooks through. You can adjust the heat on a gas grill fairly easily, or if you are using a charcoal grill is it often advisable to have one area of the grill hot, and another less so (it takes experience playing with the charcoal or wood to get this down), so that you can move the food from zone to zone as needed. Grilling is different from barbecuing, which is low and slow.

    Tender cuts of meat and poultry and various kids of fish and shellfish are well-suited to grilling, as are vegetables and even fruits. As with broiling, you'll want to stay quite close to the grill as flare-ups can occur, and it's easy from a food to go from nicely browned to charred in a flash. The timing varies wildly from food to food, and from grill to grill, so be prepared to test the doneness of the foods you are cooking as you go. You can also experiment with keeping the lid open and closed, which affects the temperature.




Final Thoughts

Both grilling and barbecuing have very vocal fans who have very definite opinions about their definitions, and we will let that debate for future lists.


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