Food dictionary / Glossary


A la minut – Cooked to order.

A La, Au, Aux – French terms meaning “served with” or “served in the manner of”.

Abalone – A mollusk, related to a sea snail, similar in flavor to a clam. It may be cooked by various methods and is best suited to very long or very short cooking times. Also called “Awabi” in Japanese cuisine and “Loco” in South American cuisine. It has been over-harvested and is very expensive when available. A small amount is being commercial raised.

Achar – Very spice relish from the cuisine of India and the Caribbean Islands. Achar may be made from fruits an//d vegetables.

Acidulated Water – A mixture of water and a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice, used to purify or prevent discoloration in meats and vegetables.

Adobo – Paste or sauce made from chiles, vinegar, and other seasonings. Used as a seasoning for meats.

Adzuki Beans – Small reddish brown beans.

Agnolotti – A small half-moon shaped ravioli.

Aiguillette – Long, thin slices of poultry breast or some other meats.

Ail – French word for “garlic”.

Aioli – A cold egg and oil emulsion with olive oil and garlic. Many variations of this sauce are made. See the definition under rouille.

Ajo – Spanish word for “garlic”.

Al Carbon – Spanish term for a dish relating to grilled or containing meat.

Al Dente – A term, meaning “to the bite”, used to describe the correct degree of doneness for pasta and vegetables. This is not exactly a procedure, but a sensory evaluation for deciding when the food is finished cooking. Pasta should retain a slight resistance when biting into it, but should not have a hard center.

Al Forno – Italian term describing a dish cooked in the oven.

Al Pastor – A term used in Spanish and Italian referring to a dish cooked in the style of shepherd cooking, usually over a grill or spit.

Albumen – The protein of egg whites.

Alfredo – A pasta sauce originally consisting of butter, cream, and the finest parmesan cheese available. Modern versions add garlic, peas, and less expensive parmesan. All of these will make fine sauces, but nothing can compare to the original version.

Allemande – A sauce made of Veloute (usually veal), a liaison and lemon juice.

Almond Paste – A sweet paste made from finely ground blanched almonds mixed with powdered sugar and enough glucose or syrup to bind it together.

Amandine – A French term for any dish with almonds. Alternate spelling is almondine.

Amchoor – Sour, unripe mangoes that are dried and sold in slices and powder. Its primary use is in Indian cooking, giving foods a sweet/sour flavor.

Anchoiade – A dip made of pureed anchovies mixed with garlic and olive oil. Raw vegetables and bread are served with this dip.

Andouille – A sausage made from the stomach and the intestines of pork. The sausage is dried and smoked, then boiled or steamed to finish cooking.Andouille sausage is used regularly in Creole cooking, but it is popular in French cooking as well. The Creole version of this sausage is much spicier than those made in France.

Angelica – Licorice flavored stalks from these plants are candied and used primarily in pastry making. Angelica is also used to flavor liqueurs.

Anna Potatoes – The name for a potato pancake made of thin slices of potato which are assembled in concentric circles and cooked with liberal amounts of butter. The cake is then baked until crisp and golden brown.

Annatto Seed – Also called achiote seed, these seeds are used as a food coloring and a spice in cooking from Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Antipasto – ‘The Italian word for snacks served before a meal. These are dishes to peak one’s appetite, not quench it. This may consist of one or more dishes of all types of food. Common elements of an antipasto table are cured meats and salamis, olives, marinated vegetables, and cheese.

Arrowroot – This is a starch similar in appearance and qualities as cornstarch.

Arroz – Portuguese word for “rice”. It is not a Spanish term.

Artichoke – A name shared by three unrelated plants: the globe artichoke, Jerusalem artichoke and Chinese (or Japanese) artichoke. Considered the true artichoke, the globe artichoke is cultivated mainly in California’s mid-coastal region. It is the bud of a large plant from the thistle family and has tough, petal shaped leaves. They are available year-round, with the peak season March through May. Buy deep green, heavy for their size artichokes with a tight leaf formation.

Asafetida – A spice used in India and the Middle East for cooking or as a condiment to be sprinkled over food after it has been cooked. It has a bitter taste and a pungent aroma similar to garlic and truffles.

Aspic – A jelly made from stock, fumet, wine, or fruit juices used to mold dishes. These preparations are often elaborately decorated for use on buffets. Both savory and sweet foods are set in aspic. Cubes of aspic are a common garnish to fine pGtTs and foie gras.

Aubergine – The French word for eggplant.

Aurore – This is a term associated with sauces that have tomato puree or concasse added to it.


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