Have you ever looked at a menu and been unsure of what the descriptions of the dishes mean, or even what the dishes themselves are?
We’ve rounded up some of the more confusing terms found on menus and their definitions, from dishes and ingredients to cooking methods.
Dishes & Ingredients
A rich sauce of crushed garlic, egg yolks, lemon juice, and olive oil.
Aioli is similar to mayonnaise, but with lots of fresh garlic and more of a yellow color to it. Also, aioli typically includes olive oil, while mayonnaise uses a more neutral oil, like canola oil.
A puree of roasted eggplant and tahini, flavored with garlic and lemon juice.
Baba ganoush is similar to hummus, but is made with eggplant instead of chickpeas.
A square doughnut with no hole, typically fried and sprinkled with confectioners sugar.
Buccan Cooked Meat
Meat that has been roasted, smoked, or dried on a wooden frame or grid.
Herbs or vegetables cut into thin strips or shreds, often sprinkled onto a dish as a garnish.
A jalapeno pepper that has been dried and smoked.
Croque Monsieur or Croque Madame
Croque Monsieur is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a white sauce; a Croque Madame is a Croque Monsieur but with a fried or poached egg on top.
Green soybeans boiled or steamed in salted water.
Prepared, cooked, or served with spinach.
A rich icing made of chocolate and cream heated and stirred together, also used as a filling, as for cakes or pastries.
A chilled soup made from chopped tomatoes, and typically also cucumbers, onions, peppers, and herbs.
A Korean dish made of vegetables like cabbage or radishes that are salted, seasoned, and stored in sealed containers to undergo lactic acid fermentation. Kimchi can often include chili powder and be quite spicy.
A pasta shaped like grains of rice, often used in soup.
A creamy sauce of breadcrumbs, garlic, red chile peppers, olive oil, and often fish stock.
A mixture of fat, usually butter, and flour cooked together and used as a thickening.
A round, yellowish citrus fruit with fragrant, acidic juice, used as a flavoring.
To spoon, brush, or squirt a liquid – meat drippings, melted butter, etc. – on food while it cooks to prevent it from drying out and to add flavor.
To cook by exposing the food to direct heat, similar to grilling, except the heat source is above the food instead of below it.
To cook by simmering the food slowly in very little liquid.
Braising is usually done with fatty cuts of meat that are difficult to cook by dry heat alone, as with a brisket.
To cook in grease, oil, or sugar-water.
To dissolve remaining bits of sauteed or roasted food in a pan or pot by adding a liquid and then heating the mixture in order to make a sauce.
The process of pulling foods through dry ingredients to coat them before cooking.
For instance, chicken can be dredged through flour to give it a crispy coating after it’s cooked.
To combine two liquids that don’t normally mix well together in such a way that one is dispersed as small droplets throughout the other.
Mayonnaise and aioli are both made through emulsion.
To cook food in an oven or over a fire to brown the exterior of the food and add flavor.
Roasting is similar to baking, but involves foods that already have a solid structure before the cooking begins, as with meat.
To cook in fat quickly over a high heat.
Sear or Pan Sear
To cook in a small amount of fat quickly over a high heat to brown the surface and seal in the juices. The food will be crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.
This differs from sautéing because searing is only one step in the cooking process; the food is often roasted, braised, or otherwise finished off in another way. Sautéing food will completely cook it.
And, searing and sautéing also differs from frying, which only uses oil (not butter or another fat), and a lot more of it.
Check out restaurants in Saratoga >>
- 100 Words for Foodies from the Editors of American Heritage Dictionaries
- Live Strong: Broiling Vs. Baking
- The Kitchn: What’s the Difference Between Roasting and Baking?
- Organic Authority: What is Aioli?
- The Reluctant Gourmet: Cooking Terms