Cooking Terms for Home Cooks

May 11, 2012 1 Comment

Cooking Terms for Home Cooks

A to Z Cooking Terms – Important Cooking Terms In The Kitchen

One of the reasons I started The Reluctant Gourmet years ago was because when I first started teaching myself how to cook, the cooking magazines used terms I didn’t understand.

I would look up a recipe and come across words like chiffonade, panko, al dente or bard and I had no idea what they meant and had to go look them up. If I was lucky enough to find the definition, I would post it on my site under Cooking Terms for Home Cooks or A to Z Cooking Terms as I liked to call it and link to it.

Over time I’ve learned a lot of new culinary terms but I’m still finding new ones every time I open a cooking magazine. A lot of these terms are from other countries because cuisines from around the world are so popular now. There are so many ingredients I’m not that familiar with especially those from Asia and South America.


For example, I was looking at a recent copy of Food & Wine and came across this recipe for Japanese-Style Trout with Dashi. Ok, let’s start with Dashi.

What the heck is that? I know a “dash” is a measuring term referring to a very small amount but “dash” with an i at the end.

Turns out dashi is a type of soup or stock that is fundamental to Japanese cooking. When reading the definition for dashi, they describe it as being made with kombu.

Okay, kombu, let’s look that up. Oh, that’s edible kelp and we all know kelp is a type of seaweed that grows in shallow oceans.

Another ingredient in dashi is katsuobushi or fermented bonito flakes and we all know bonito is a type of tuna and the flakes are from steamed, aged and air dried bonito fillets that are shaved into delicate flakes.


Another recipe in that same Food & Wine article is Crunch Pork-Kimchi Burgers. What is kimchi (pronounced [KIHM-chee]) you ask?

It is a very spicy, pungent condiment served with most Korean meals. Made from fermented vegetables like cabbage or turnips that have been pickled, jarred and buried in the ground until needed. The same recipe mentions panko (a Japanese bread crumb) and umani (one of the five basic tastes that refers to savoriness).

After 15 years of writing about food on The Reluctant Gourmet and I’m still learning new terminology every day. That’s what I love about my what I do. Every time I turn around there is something different to learn about. Very cool!


By the way, chiffonade is the French term for a particular knife cut where herbs and leafy greens are cut into thin strips. Panko is a Japanese style of bread crumbs. Al dente translates from Italian to mean “to the tooth” and refers to the degree of doneness for pasta or risotto where the center remains firm and not overcooked.


To bard is to wrap a lean cut of meat like filet Mignon with a fat like bacon to prevent the lean cut from drying out while cooking. See, not so difficult except there are hundreds if not thousands of terms like this you might come across every time you pick up a cookbook or cooking magazine.

I’m going to continue posting culinary terms over on my¬†Cooking Terms for Home Cooks page. Of course, if you have a term you would like to share here or on my Facebook page, I’d love to learn it from you. This will be a work in progress and I hope it will be fun and educational.

Last modified on Wed 20 April 2016 2:27 pm

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  1. Extra Virgin Chef says:

    That’s the same reason I started a column in my blog called Word of the Week. Most of the culinary glossary explained French/European cooking terms but I couldn’t find one that explained Asian cooking terms. Here’s an example from my blog on “Dashi”

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