Do you know your braise from your bake, or your simmer from your boil? Read on to find out exactly what these common cooking methods entail…
Food is placed in a separate steamer over hot water, where it is cooked by the steam rising from the water. This works well for fish and vegetables.
To poach food, it should be completely submerged in barely-simmering liquid until fully cooked through and tender. Eggs are commonly poached in water, while fish for a pie is often poached in milk.
Grilling means cooking under a source of direct heat. It’s best to watch the food carefully when grilling to ensure it doesn’t burn. This method is good for getting a cheese topping golden brown and crispy, or for finishing an omelette or frittata, while it’s also a relatively healthy way to cook rashers and sausages.
Roasting is really the same as baking, but the term is used more to refer to meat and vegetables. Foods are cooked in the oven until golden brown and tender. This is used for meats such as chicken or a leg of lamb, as well as vegetables like carrots or potatoes.
To bake something means to cook it in the oven, similar to roasting. The word is usually used to refer to cooking goods such as bread, pastries or cakes.
Searing is done in a pan over a high heat using minimal amounts of fat. Searing foods browns and caramelises their outsides without fully cooking the interior. This is useful for foods like lamb chops or tuna steaks which are best served pink in the middle, and also for adding a brown crust to a food before finishing cooking using a different method.
Sautéed foods are cooked in a thin layer of fat in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. This method is often used to cook onions and mushrooms.
Pan-frying is accomplished by adding enough fat to a hot pan to come about 1cm up the side of the pan. Food is partially submerged in the fat to cook, then flipped over until crispy on both sides. This method works well for foods such as fishcakes.
Deep-frying is when food is completely submerged in hot fat. This can be done in a deep pot or a dedicated deep-fat fryer. This method is perfect for foods like doughnuts or arancini; the result is a crispy, golden brown exterior and fully cooked insides.
Braising is a combination cooking method that involves searing an item, then simmering it in liquid for a long cooking period until tender. Foods that are braised are often fibrous larger meats like pot roasts and poultry legs.
Simmering refers to cooking a liquid in a pot on the stovetop over a low heat. Much less intense than boiling, only tiny bubbles should appear on the surface. This technique is used to make soups and sauces.
Here, foods are completely submerged in boiling water and cooked until tender, then drained. This technique is commonly used to cook eggs, potatoes or vegetables.