A complete delicious food is the one which has the perfect flavor, taste, color and visual appeal. Different cooking techniques play a very important role to blend all the above mentioned components together in one dish. Cooking techniques and various household hints & tips are very important to make a dish complete.
Through this article you get a complete idea of all the cooking techniques which can be used in various home recipes to cook delicious food.
Cooking is not just limited to fill the hungry stomachs, but it is an art which uses and applies different techniques to make something unique and delicious. For cooking mouth-watering food the cook must know all the cooking techniques. There are lots of cooking techniques which include boiling, frying, roasting, baking and many more which add a different flavor to the food you cook.
Out of the techniques mentioned above people are avoiding fried and roasted foods for a better health. However, there are certain special occasions which demands fried and roasted food in the menu.
Given below is a detailed description of all types of cooking techniques:
Shallow frying is a popular cooking technique which cooks food on a flat surface or a shallow pan. The food is cooked in small amounts by putting oil on the flat surface. At high temperature the pan or the flat surface is heated and the food on the pan is flipped at regular intervals. This process must be constantly monitored for better color, flavor, taste and texture. This technique cooks the food very fast. It also makes the food crispy by browning it in the pan.
Best recipes which can be cooked by shallow frying:
- Portion-sized cuts of fish and meats.
- Fritters and patties.
Tip: Ensure that the side of the food item which has to be on the top must be fried first. Since, the oil is clean earlier it gives a better look to the food.
In this technique the food to be fried is submerged into preheated oil which is heated at very high temperatures. Oil conducts heat and if the food is immersed into this oil, the food gest cooked at a faster rate.
Make sure that the food you dip into the hot oil does not have water on it. Water if mixed with hot oil reacts violently. So keep the food at room temperature before frying.
The quantity of oil which is heated must also be the matter of concern. The reason behind this is if the food is dipped into the oil, the level of oil rises. This makes difficult for the cook to fry the food properly.
Do not dip too many pieces into the hot oil because it may reduce the temperature of the oil.
Foods which can be deep fried:
- Poultry, Fish and Meat
- Finger Steaks
- Potato and banana chips
Tip: The oil once used for deep frying must not be used for cooking anything else. Used oil may affect your health. Hence, after the oil cools down, discard it properly.
Deep fried food if covered makes the food soggy.
Pan frying is a dry heat cooking technique which is used to achieve a golden-brown and tempting food which does not stick to the pan. At wrong temperatures, the food pieces may stick to the pan. Non-stick skillets and sauté pans are recommended for pan frying since they require less amount of oil.
Before putting oil into the pan, preheat the pan so that the oil crackles when the food is put into the pan. The only difference in shallow frying and pan frying is the quantity of oil used.
In shallow frying the oil must properly coat the food from all the sides but on the other hand, in the case of pan frying this is not the case. In pan frying, the oil is just sprinkled on the pan to prevent it from sticking to the pan.
Lower temperatures are preferred in case of pan frying. Pan frying is basically used for large pieces of food which includes meat, fish and many more.
Food which can be pan fried:
- Risotto cake
- Slices of tomato
Tip: The pan must have a heavy bottom so that hot spots are avoided which may be caused due to unequal distribution of heat over the pan.
Sautéing is derived from a French word sauté. This technique involves tossing the food in the frying pan until it turns brown in color. In this process the food is cooked from all the sides. Sautéing does not cook the food completely but it is just a part of the preparation. This procedure is basically used to brown the food, heat the food which is already cooked and to mix and coat vegetables. The pan which is used for sautéing must be heated before the food is put into it.
Foods which can be cooked well by sautéing:
- Sliced onions and potatoes for a golden-brown color
- Little pieces of meat, poultry and many more.
Tip: After sautéing the meat, the residue can be deglazed with the help of wine or stock. This can be used to prepare sauce.
This is an interesting technique in which the ingredients which take long time to cook are blended with the ones which take shorter time. This can be done by first putting the ingredients which take longer time to get cooked and then stir frying them for a while. Once these ingredients are cooked, the ingredients which require less time to get cooked are put into the pan.
Through this technique none of the ingredients are overcooked or are raw. Stir-frying is a very quick process, therefore it is very important to keep everything ready before starting this process. Use a pan which has a non-stick surface to stir fry, and a spatula to mix the ingredients.
Foods which can be stir-fried:
- Strips of chicken and beef
Tip: Grated ginger root and chopped garlic if stir fried for 10-15 seconds add their flavors to the oil. Keep stirring the ingredients with a spatula to prevent them from getting burnt.
Blanching means partially cooking any vegetable so that the crispness of the vegetable remains. In this technique the vegetables are first cooked in boiling water and then they are dipped into cold water to stop the cooking procedure. It is also done to preserve the original texture and color of the food. Through this process the strong taste of most of the vegetables are removed.
Cut the vegetables according as per your choice. Heat a pan of salted water, rather boil the water. Keep a bowl of ice on the other side. Firstly put the vegetables in the boiling water as per your convenience and then finally dip the vegetables into the bowl of ice water.
Foods which can be blanched
Almost all vegetables and foods can be blanched as per your requirements. Few list of foods are:
- Green beans
Tip: To check whether the process is done properly, first of all try it out with one piece. Keep repeating this process after every 30-60 seconds for a better result.
Steaming is recognized as a gentler cooking method in comparison to blanching, simmering and other boiling techniques. This technique is free from any kind of protest and so it can be said as the best compatible method of cooking foods such as seafood and other delicate food substance. There is no loss of any nutrients through percolation just because foods in this technique are not submerged in water. Since, the food remains untouched with the water, excessive absorption of water or overcooking of food is avoided.
Items generally required for steam cooking are a saucepan and a steam basket (either it be of bamboo or stainless steel) and a heat-resistant colander. To start with the work, the pan must be filled with water in such a way that water is very near to the steamer, but remember it should not touch the bottom most part of the steamer. Now, start boiling by placing the pan over a heater. Meanwhile, the vegetables should be cleaned properly and chopped into same sizes so that they are cooked evenly.
Now, place the vegetables in the steam basket and keep the basket over the pan. The temperature should be reduced to medium, cover the pan properly and allow it to get cooked. Keep in mind that the boiling water in the pan does not boil away totally, to prevent so have a look continuously and keep adding water during cooking whenever required. Continue to cook the vegetables unless it becomes warm and gentle when poked with a knife or fork. The cooking time varies according to the amount the vegetables used. Hence, if you are a beginner then keep watching the progress and see to it that the food is not overcooked or sodden.
Tip: If the type of vegetable you are steaming is more than one in number, heavier vegetables that takes time to get cooked should be placed at the bottom end and the lighter vegetables which takes less time to get cooked should be kept at the top in order to have a fast ,flexible and flavored cooking.
This method is said as the most time effective and cost efficient methods. Cooking speed here is almost ten times faster as compared to the other cooking techniques. Faster cooking reduces your cooking expenses by consuming less amount of fuel throughout the process. The basic nutrients which are needed often to cook the food are saved because the cooking is done in an airless atmosphere with a very less amount of liquid. However, there are some food substances which are delicate in nature like soft fish, tender meat cuts, shellfish and soft vegetables should never be pressure cooked because it may result the food to get overcooked, unflavored or completely burned. Make sure you read the instructions provided in the user manual carefully before trying this cooking method.
The timer should be set when the pressure in the cooker is buildup high, if you are attempting this technique. The heat should be turn off only when the timer goes off, till then have patience. Allow the pressure to lower down naturally and then only try to open the lid by following the instructions given in user guide. You also have an optional method, you can cook for more five minutes and quick pressure release method can be applied to open the lid. Always take safety measures while doing so, the steam may directly come on your hands or face and may damage your skin if not opened in the correct direction.
Tip: Only 2/3rd level of the pressure cooker should have water in order to allow space for steam buildup and to provide enough area for the food to get enlarged after being cooked.
Simmering is a process which cooks food in liquid. It is used to cook the protein rich part in the food. While simmering, the pot is covered in order to trap the steam. This steam cooks the food in very less time.
However, you must be careful about the temperature. If it rises up, the food may get boiled of instead of getting simmered. Apart from water, apple cider, chicken stock or orange juice may be added for simmering as they add a different flavor to the food. Stir fry the vegetables and brown the meats before simmering them. The main objective should be to remove the excessive fat from the foods so that there is no formation of greasy layer.
For simmering vegetables, cut them uniformly and then add the vegetables into a pot of water. Add some olive oil, salt while boiling the mixture. Lower the temperature while the food is inside the liquid and then you may cover the pot.
For delicate food items which include eggs and fish try out poaching which is similar to simmering. The temperature in poaching must range between 140-180 degree F. While in simmering the temperature must be between 180-200 degrees F.
Foods which can be cooked best by simmering:
- Potatoes and pasta
- Soup, stock and broth
Tip: Bubbles are released very often while simmering. If you see more bubbles on the surface lower down the heat. You can also move the pan towards one corner of the burner.
In grilling the food is directly exposed to the heat. The exposure towards heat is the sole difference between grilling and barbecuing. Food is cooked by indirect heat in case of barbecuing.
Time required to cook the food also differs, since grilling exposes the food directly to heat it is faster than barbecuing. Many varieties of grills are there, you choose whichever you want according to your wish.
While cooking on different types of grills, make sure that you know about the type of the grill you want to purchase, the overall equipment required to burn the grill and the total time required to cook. In charcoal grilling the quantity of coal used in the grill depends on the size of the grill and the amount of food which has to be cooked on the grill. The charcoal grills require large amount of charcoals in windy atmosphere, low temperature and humid conditions.
In gas grilling the cook must learn the technique to use this grill. In gas grilling or charcoal grilling the flares of fire can be controlled easily.
Broiling is another technique similar to grilling. The only difference between these two techniques is the direction of heat given to the food. In broiling the heat source is above the food while on the other hand in grilling the heat is below the food.
Foods which can be cooked by grilling:
- Fish and meat cuts
- Hot Dogs
Tip: Pierce the cuts of the meat with the help of a fork so that the meat does not become moist.
Barbecue is an apparatus as well a technique used to cook food. The time required in barbecuing is different from the time required to grill. Even the temperature for both the technique varies. Barbecuing also covers lots of smoking techniques.
Barbecue is carried in outdoor environment. Barbecue is a slower process since it works on indirect heat. Due to indirect source of heat the food might take longer time to get cooked.
Foods which can be cooked by this technique:
- Meat Cuts
Tip: Keep a pan of water near the fire so that the moisture is maintained in the meat.
Searing is a process which cooks the food until it becomes golden-brown. In this technique the interior of the food is less cooked and is hence soft. It makes the food crispy and adds a unique flavor.
In this process the food is cooked at a very high temperature. Direct and high heat and the time are the most important criteria of searing a food. The perfect temperature for searing is 500 degree Fahrenheit.
A pan is required which has a thick cast iron so that the heat can be tolerated by the pan. Once the pan is heated it can cook the food easily even if it is removed from the heat source. Before starting to cook test whether the pan is heated or not by sprinkling some water on it.
After the pan gets heated, coat the pan with oil first and then add food pieces to it. Then cook the food for around 3 minutes to form a crust around the food. The time taken to cook the food also depends on the type of food and the thickness of the pan.
Once the crust is formed and both the sides of the food get desired color, cook it in the oven and then lower the temperature.
Foods which can be cooked by Searing:
Tip: Use melted butter over your food to give it a better finishing.
Baking cooks food using dry heat. No need to practice this method regularly since it is the most basic step in cooking. In this process the heat is transferred to the center from the surface of the food. Due to the transfer of heat the dough gets baked. The baked food is soft.
Things to be kept in mind while baking:
- Arrange all the ingredients and understand the recipe well.
- Bake the dish accurately and do not go for substitutions and improvisations.
- Measure the ingredients properly as mentioned in the recipe to bake the food well.
If you follow all the steps above sincerely, you will get a properly baked food.
Food which can be baked:
- Pastries, cakes and breads
- Meat, fish and poultry.
Tip: Make sure that when you place the pan inside the oven the pan does not touch the wall of the oven. If there is shortage of space, keep the pans on different racks so that there is proper air circulation.
The above mentioned cooking techniques are really effective to give a unique flavor to the food. So follow these methods for a delicious food. Make sure that you also know the microwave cooking tips as they are beneficial to cook any food.
Therefore, follow these cooking techniques since they make your food delicious. These techniques can also be used for cooking whole grain or any other recipe. All you need to know is the proper procedure to cook these foods properly.
Cooking with dry white wine also becomes easier when the cooking techniques are known to the cook. Every cook must have a detailed knowledge about all the cooking techniques.
Cooking is an extraordinary talent which anyone possesses so enhance this talent of yours by practicing new recipes and new cooking techniques daily. The cooking technique makes your work easier and gives a different texture and color to your food.