These are cookery terms we come across daily, in the kitchen, market or at the dining.

Image credit: lespetitesgourmettes.

  1. SIMMER:
    To cook liquid, or food over low heat, below boiling point. The surface of the liquid will be moving with a few small bubbles.
  2. AL DENTE:
    An Italian phrase used when Pasta and sometimes vegetables are slightly underdone, still with some bite. This is how pasta should be cooked, a little bit underdone, not very soft.
  3. GLAZE:
    To glaze is to brush a substance over food to give it some shine, could be jam or beaten egg. Like meatpies are glazed with beaten eggs, that's why they look shiny when baked.
    To partially cook in boiling water before some other form of cooking, Rice is parboiled to reduce starch before the main cooking.
    To flavour or tenderize food especially meat by leaving it covered in seasoned liquid for some time before cooking.
  6. BOIL:
     To cook liquid or cook food in liquid, at 100 degrees C. When liquid boils, large bubbles break on the surface.
  7. ZEST:
     The coloured skin of citrus like lemon that can be added to food. Not the white part because that can be bitter.
  8. WHISK:
     To beat rapidly to incorporate air and add volume. Eggs are often  whisked before adding to cake dough.
  9. STRAIN:
     To remove solid from a liquid by pouring through a sieve. When green vegetables like ugu, water leaf and other are chopped and washed, a sieve is used to strain. 
  10. STIR-FRY:
     Another word for stir fry is to saute. To quick fry over high heat while stirring continuously, stir fries are sometimes done in a wok or fry pan.
  11. SKIM:
     To remove fat or scum that comes to the surface of a liquid like palm wine, beer, boiled yam and even pork.
  12. SIFT:
     To shake dry ingredients like flour through a sieve to help air and remove lumps. Always sieve flour before baking because insects and other dirt could be hiding in there.
  13. SCORE:
     To ensure even cooking, meat is sometimes scored by making incisions with a knife. To score, you just make incisions without cutting all the way through. Sometimes I score and salt mackerel/titus fish before drying. I also score my Nigerian pear and salt before roasting. Most Nigerian foods like roast plantain, roast yam etc, get scored before roasting.
  14. RUB-IN: This is to mix together flour and butter with your finger tips for pastry. After rubbing in, the mixture looks like bread crumbs.
  15. REDUCE:
     To boil or simmer liquid in an uncovered pot so that the liquid evaporates and the the food, porridge or mixture becomes thicker. When yam porridge is too watery, you reduce to make it thicker.
  16. PINCH:
     A small amount of something... as much a can be held between your thumb and finger. A pinch of salt is so small you just hold it between the thumb and finger.
  17. GREASE:
     To lightly coat a tin or dish with oil or melted butter to prevent food sticking.
  18. FLAMBE:
      To pour liquor over food that's on the fire and briefly set fire to the food.
  19. FILLET:
     To cut and remove met from the bones. Fillets are those parts without the bones. Have had their bones removed. 
  20. DRAIN:
     To remove liquid from food with a colander or sieve. The food is kept and the liquid discarded most times. When boiled rice is cooked while there is still water in the pot. The excess water is drained with a sieve.
  21. DICE:
     To chop food or vegetables into very small even cubes.
  22. CUBE:
     To chop food or vegetables into even cubes. Usually bite-sized. The size is not too important.
  23. CREAM:
     To beat butter and sugar together until light and creamy, used for baking cakes.
  24. BROWN:
     To fry food quickly so the outside is cooked and changes colour.
  25. POACH:
     To cook food immersed in a gently simmering liquid. I love poach eggs.
     To soften at a high temperature until golden brown, like onion is caramelized before being added to some sauces.
  27. BAKE;
     To cook in the oven with dry heat. 
     To cook on a rack over hot coals or some source of direct heat.
  29. BLANCH:
     To parboil in water or steam, green vegetables like amaranth can be blanched and served with jollof rice.
  30. BRAISE:
     To cook in a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pot, over low heat.


  1. Very helpful.Thanks Eya!


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