French Cooking Terms
Do You Speak “French Cooking?”
Are you a fan of French cooking? If so, you’ve probably visited at least one French restaurant or you are planning to do so in the future. You might have also considered prepping the cuisine at home. In either case, it is always good to know a couple of French cooking terms.
From a conversational point of view, having the knowledge of some basic cooking terms will help you out as you interact with staff from a full-on French bistro. It will also spice up conversations with the people that you are dining with. At home, knowing a few terms will help you navigate through recipes as you prepare meals from scratch.
Here are some of the French cooking terms that you should start with:
• Affiné is when meats, cheeses, and other ingredients are commonly aged to develop a more complex taste.
• Baveuse simply pertains to any egg dish with a runny center. It is most commonly used to describe omelets.
• Blanchir means to cook something quickly in boiling water then shock it in icy cold water to stop the cooking process.
• Braiser is when you cook an ingredient slowly in a small amount of liquid like water, wine, or stock.
• Brider means to tie up meat with string or skewer it in place whilst cooking.
• Brunir is to caramelize something on the surface; not necessarily cooking the ingredient all the way through.
• Chaud-Froid is cooked food but served cold, sometimes in gelatin form. The perfect example would be a terrine.
• Chemiser means to use some wax paper to cover a pan with to keep any ingredients from sticking. This term is commonly used in baking recipes.
• Chiffonade is a chopping technique used to chop herbs and leafy vegetables finely. It involves rolling the leaves tightly before chopping.
• Clouter means that you need to stick cloves on something; an onion perhaps.
• Confit is the term used to describe meat that has been cooked in its own fat. In some cases, it can also be used to refer to fruit preserved in sugar syrup.
• Déglacer is to deglaze a cooking pan with some liquid to get the flavorful bits from the bottom. You need to do this when making sauces or soups.
• Depouiller is used to help fat rise to the top of a pan for skimming. Cold liquid is added to the hot liquid to make this possible.
• Ecumer is the skimming process that you do after the depouiller. It can also mean removing foam from the surface of a liquid.
• Flamber means to flavor a dish with alcohol by pouring it over and igniting it to leave its flavor, not the alcohol itself.
• Glace de Cuisine is any reduced stock.
• Julienne means to cut vegetables in even matchstick-sized strips.
• Liaison refers to thickening a sauce using starch or dairy.
• Roux can also be used to thicken sauces, soups, and stews. This is basically a flour and butter or fat mixture.
Start with these and study more cooking terms as you go along, and soon you’ll be ready to cook your first French dish.