What would you do if your would-be doctor does not understand what surgery means?
Have you ever watched professional chefs cook and talk about their cooking process?
If you have, you would have noticed that 100% of the time, they always use various kitchen terms to pass across their message.
And except you are in their league, you’d find yourself questioning what you know as a chef.
And more so, if you don’t know the meaning of the terms, you cannot replicate the meal.
To help you, we have chosen to share with you these seven culinary terms you must know as a Nigerian chef in any professional kitchen, and some steps on how to go about them.
These terms won’t make you a better chef. They, however, will help your understanding and get you to adapt to using them. They will also help you speed up your culinary learning and help you avoid various kitchen mistakes.
So, grab your chef learning hat, and let us do some learning.
1. MISE EN PLACE
Mise En Place is the art of preparation.
A professional kitchen is like a military zone. Everything has to be orderly and in a highly organized system and structure.
Aside from having talent and skill, you as a chef must be highly organized, disciplined, and efficient.
In a professional kitchen, numerous tasks must be completed over a given time. Emphasis is placed on thorough preparation. It is called mise en place, a French term meaning “everything put in place”.
What specific operations are part of the mise-en-place?
- Assemble your tools.
- Assemble your ingredients.
- Wash, trim, cut, prepare and measure raw materials.
- Prepare your equipment (preheat oven) line.
A proper mise en-place ensures proper planning and work is done ahead with menu items broken down in order.
Why mise en place?
This helps the chef do a lot of work in advance without loss of quality or freshness.
This Preparation and planning for a menu item involve cleaning, trimming, and sometimes batters for frying.
Things to note during mise en place.
- Final cooking before serving for maximum freshness.
- Planning helps determine the tasks we must do before beginning the final cooking during the meal service period.
- A large part of a cook’s workday is spent doing mise en place.
- Adequate knife skills are required for a successful mise en place.
2. Blanching and Precooking.
Blanching simply means very brief cooking. Blanching can be done with moist-heat or dry-heat.
There are several reasons for blanching and these includes:
- To increase holding quality. Heating helps preserve food by destroying bacteria that cause spoilage.
Heating destroys enzymes that cause discoloration in foods (browning of apples after exposure to air) and cause them to deteriorate.
- To save time. It takes less time to finish parboiled vegetables than raw vegetables. Blanched food can be chilled before the finish order as required.
- Blanching helps remove undesirable flavors.
- Blanching helps in further processing of food such as to help loosen the skins of tomatoes or peeling.
To marinate means to soak a food product in a seasoned liquid to:
- Flavor the product.
- Tenderize the product.
Vegetable marinades called vinaigrettes are served cold with vegetables as salads or hor d’oeuvres without further cooking or processing.
Marinades have 3 main ingredients
- Oil. Oil helps to retain meat moisture. Oil can specially infuse flavor to the items being marinated.
- Acid. Acids from vinegar, lemon juice, or wine. The acid helps tenderize protein foods and add flavors. Use in small quantities so the marinade is not too acidic or does not coagulate the meat protein.
- Flavorings-spice, herbs, or vegetables releases flavors slowly and are preferred for long marination.
TYPES OF MARINADE
- Cooked marinade
- Raw marinade and mostly used for a long period of marination under refrigeration.
- Instantly marinade: a different range of flavors is used and marinade can be for a few minutes, several hours, or overnight.
- Dry marinade: also called a dry rub or spice rub. A mixture of salt, spices, and herbs is rubbed or patted onto the surface of the meat, poultry, or then refrigeration to allow it time to absorb flavors. This method is widely used for meat barbeques. Dry marinade.
- Marinate under refrigeration.
- The thicker the product, the longer it takes for the marinade to penetrate.
- Use an acid-resistant container such as stainless steel, glass, or some plastic.
- Cover product completely with the marinade. Turn item marinating frequently or even penetration.
A brine is a special kind of marinade. Brine is used for curing. Brine has a tenderizing and moisturizing effect on roast poultry and pork.
Most foods to be deep-fried are given a protective coating of breading or batter. Breading is carried out for the following reasons:
- It helps retain moisture and flavor in the product.
- It protects fat against the moisture and salt in the food that deterioration of the frying fat.
- It gives crispness, favor, and a good appearance to the product.
Breading is the process of coating food items with bread crumbs or other crumbs before deep-frying, pan-frying, or sautéing.
Three Stages of Standard Breading Procedure.
- Flour: helps the breading stick to the product.
- Egg wash: A little oil with eggs and liquid (milk or water helps in binding).
- Crumbs: Fine dry pieces of bread are combined with egg wash to create a crisp, golden coating.
Procedure for Proper Breading.
- Dry the food item to get a thin even coating of flour, even coating of flour.
- Season food items as well as flour.
- Dip food items in four to coat even.
- Dip in the egg wash to coat completely.
- Dip in bread crumbs.
- Fry immediately or hold for service refrigerate.
6. DREDGING WITH FLOUR.
Dredging is done to give food items a thin, uniform coating of flour.
Batters are semi-liquid mixtures that contain flour or starch. They are used in deep-frying to give a crisp, flavorful golden-brown coating.
Just like you probably would take to your heels if a doctor you put your health in his hands does not understand what surgery means, the same way would culinary mastery run away from any chef who doesn’t know its terms. Do not be that Chef.
If you have any questions, drop them as a comment, and I’d get to it as soon as possible.