There are three primary cooking methods i.e moist heat cooking, dry heat cooking, and combination cooking. Each of these cooking methods uses heat to act on foods in a distinct way. All techniques of cooking, from sauteing to deep frying, can be clustered under one of these three major methods. Learning and getting the hang of these basic cooking methods is key to advancing as a chef. Mastering these cooking methods enables you to work with all kinds of ingredients and kitchen equipment to bring about consistently palatable cooking outcomes. Read on to learn more about the three significant types of cooking, all the sub-techniques that belong under each of those methods, and the foods paralleling these techniques.
One of the first things they teach you in Commercial Cookery Courses is dry heat cooking methods. The Dry heat cooking method does not require any moisture, water, or broth to work. It functions through hot air circulation or exposure to fat to pass on heat to foods. Temperatures of 300 degrees or higher are used to bring about browning, a result of amino acids and sugars where the food turns brown, giving rise to a peculiar flavor and aroma.
Examples of Dry Cooking include the special aroma of toasted bread or roasted meat.
Sauteing takes place on top of a burner in a hot (shallow) pan and uses a small drizzle of fat or oil or fat to coat the food ingredients for even cooking. This technique cooks food rapidly so one is required to keep the food constantly moving by flipping and tossing. Saute is French for “jump”. For Step-by-step cooking through sauteing, the oiled pan should be allowed to get hot before any food is added to it, don’t overload the pan with too many food items, and toss or flip repeatedly.
Pan-frying, one of the most common methods of cooking is a sub-type of dry heat method of cooking which relies on oil or fat as the medium that transfers heat to food. The oil gives rise to steam which in turn cooks the meat while the exposed side of the meat enables any steam to get away. Complete contact with the base of the pan results in better crisping and browning.
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Searing is a cooking technique that entails preparing food at a high level of heat with trace amounts of oil in the pan. While searing meat, for instance, the natural sugars on the outside of the loaf begin caramelizing. The protein gets browned which subsequently forms a nice brown coating on the top that brings out the rich flavor of the dish.
The point is not to cook the food thoroughly and entirely, but instead to get a caramelized, dark brown crust on the surface of the meat.
Deep frying is among the commonly practiced cooking methods that involve dry-heat cooking techniques to produce finished foods with a crispy goldish-brown surface and soft interior.
There is an expansive range of dishes that can be deep fried and they are all termed “tender.” From a culinary perspective, this means it has negligible if any connective tissue. For instance, all kinds of seafood, poultry, all fruits and vegetables, cuts of meat from the genital area of animals, etc.
In moist-heat cooking methods, steam or liquid is used for food processing. Certain cooking liquids like wine or broth can be used as the heat transfer medium and will also add flavor during the cooking process. Liquids leftover from cooking can also be put to use to prepare stock or sauce.
Moist heat cooking procedures are especially helpful for mellowing stiff fibers, like plant cellulose or meat protein.
Blanching is a moist heat cooking method in which food is soaked briefly in hot liquid, oil, or like boiling water, a first step before cooking it further. Food items like fruits, dry fruits, and vegetables are typically blanched beforehand, each for various purposes.
The reason may be to soften the food before preparing it to weaken the outer layer to ease the process of peeling off more conveniently or to just bring out the color of the food. Blanching is a basic cooking technique that you can easily learn without the help of any Commercial Cookery Courses.
Poaching is a widely used moist-heat cooking technique that includes immersing food in liquid, usually without making use of fat. Poaching is a tender cooking method and a simple way to prepare one component of an elaborate meal without having to eyeball it. It is, however, a slower process of cooking compared to other stove preparations.
Many poached dishes can be prepared well in advance, particularly those served at room temperature. Some great instances of foods that are better when poached are starchy vegetables, seafood, white meat chicken, etc.
Stewing is one of those long and slow Methods of cooking where food is cut up into pieces before it gets cooked in a very small amount of water, liquid, stock, or sauce. The cooking liquid is served along with the food. All stews tend to have a condensed consistency. Stewed meals can be cooked with a covered pan placed on the stove or in a covered pan inside the oven.
Simmering is a cooking technique used to bring a liquid to a right below boiling state. While simmering, you’ll see lots of tiny bubbles forming and coming to the surface of the pot. If the pot starts to boil, the heat is turned down to continue that light bubbling. It is a cooking method that marks the difference between fluffy and overcooked rice as well as between soft and tough stew meat.
As the term suggests, combination Cooking includes both moist-heat as well as dry-heat cooking. Braising, pot-roasting and stewing are all combinations of cooking techniques that are great for preparing tougher (but delicious) pieces of meat.
These kinds of cooking techniques call for gentle, long cooking to transform tougher meat cuts into fork-tender dishes that are relished worldwide. To become a pro at cooking, having knowledge of combination cooking methods is an absolute must!
Braising is the process of cooking meat or vegetables by slowly heating them with the help of oil and moisture in a firmly enclosed vessel. Braising is not the same as stewing, which requires the food to be fully submerged in liquid, and from roasting, in which no liquid is incorporated. Braising is a combo of covered steaming and roasting.
The food that needs braising is first browned in an open pan using a small amount of fat, and then it is prepared further with a covered pan; meats are usually braised over a layer of vegetables.
Keeping the dish covered while braising traps moisture and enhances the flavors. Liquids commonly used for braising are often stock, wine, or the meat’s own fluids.
Having a foundational understanding of the three cooking methods, you can easily choose the best method to incorporate into each dish you cook. For those who are just dabbling into cooking or those planning to create their own signature recipes, knowing how to use dry cooking for crispy, brown skin on meats is a must. With practice, you’ll learn when and how to use a combination of dry heat and moist heat cooking techniques to turn tough pieces of meat into nice, tender cuts.
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