Understanding different cooking techniques is important for two reasons; First of all, it’s hard to successfully complete a recipe for poached salmon if one does not know what poaching means. But beyond this very basic reason, there is a relationship between cooking techniques, the expected result, and the best types of food to use. That probably sounds very confusing, but all it means is that if you understand how a cooking technique works, you can choose the best foods to use with that method.
For example you have salmon and you want to use a method that enhances the flavor of this delicate fish, such as grilling, steaming, or even smoking. But you would not stew it or braise it because the fish would disintegrate
MOIST HEAT COOKING METHODS:-
Unlike dry heat methods, moist heat cooking doesn’t form a seal on the food as it cooks, so some of the flavour is lost into the liquid. For this reason the cooking liquids that remain are often used as a base for a sauce to accompany the main item.
Boiling includes food being heated by convection currents in hot water at a maximum of course 100*c. Water cooking and this includes all the variants such as blanching, steaming, poaching, and braising-is a moist method, therefore there are no Maillard reactions.
It involves boiling foods in water for minutes only, not necessary to cook the foods, but to prepare them for the next step in their preparation or cooking.
Vegetables for example are blanched before they are frozen. This greatly reduces the activity of enzymes in them, an activity which can lead to spoilage or rotting of vegetables. The vegetables are then plunged into cold water to stop the cooking process. Blanching in this case lengthens the safe storage period.
A number of fruits are blanched to remove their skin – among them are tomatoes. Herb’s are blanched only if they have an aggressive flavour that needs to be toned down.
Direct Steaming Indirect Steaming
This cooking technique is intimately related to boiling. Food is cooked over water at a rolling boil, at boiling point-when the water molecules are changing to steam or gas -and thus the temperature is slightly higher than the boiling point of water. Steaming cooks the food by surrounding it with hot steam. The steam circulating around the food provides an even, moist environment that allows the food to retain most of its flavour and natural juices. You can add Herb’s, stock, wine or even beer to enhance the flavour.
Poaching is a technique which calls for the food to be completely submerged in a liquid and simmered at a constant or moderate temperature. Stocks, broth’s, and court bouillon work well as poaching mediums. You can also infuse poaching liquids with Herb’s to flavor the food. You can reduce these poaching liquids to increase the concentration of the flavor.
Fish, Poultry, meat, vegetables, pasta, and eggs can all be cooked in this way.
In braising you first sear the food in hot oil and then slowly cook it in a liquid that covers the food about one half to three quarters of the way. This technique is good for meats that are not tender, such as pot roast, because slow cooking in the liquid helps to tenderize the meat. The meat is done when it is fork-tender or it falls of the bone. During cooking the meat releases its flavour into the liquid,
Stewing is similar to braising, except that you cut the food into bite sized pieces. In stewing you first brown the meats and vegetables separately and then you mix them together and cook them in a liquid. The liquid must cover the meat and vegetables.
DRY HEAT COOKING METHODS USING FATS AND OILS.
The following methods are considered dry methods even though they use oil or fats. Although oil pours freely at room temperature, it functions differently than liquids, stocks, or water, and therefore not considered a liquid for cooking purposes. Dry heat methods seal the food from outside, locking in most of the juices. The following dry heat methods use high heat, cook foods quickly, and are best when used with smaller tender cuts of poultry, meat, or fish.
This is a rapid method of cooking over high heat using a small amount of oil. The key to successful sautéing is to heat the pan before adding the oil. This ensures a caramelizing effect which sears the sides of the food. Sautéing literally means jumping, or to toss the food in the pan and it is probably the most commonly used cooking method.
It is similar to sautéing, except that the food is cut into small pieces and kept in constant motion during cooking. In a stir fried dish, you fry all the ingredients quickly in the same pan, adding various items at different times.
In this method you add a substantial amount of oil. Pan fried foods are usually breaded or batter coated. In pan frying the hot oil seals the foods coated surface and locks the natural juices inside instead of releasing the flavors. You should allow pan fried foods to brown completely on one side before turning them-excessive turning causes the breading or batter to fall off.
When deep frying you cook the food by completely submerging it in hot oil. Deep fried foods are often coated with flour, batter, or breading, which acts as a barrier between the fat and the food. The coating also adds flavor and a crunchy texture to the food. Make sure your oil is clean, otherwise your food can pick up unwanted flavors from the oil. Before serving deep fried foods always blot them on paper to remove excess oil.
Dry Heat Cooking Methods:
Dry heat simply means that no liquid is added to the food or the pan you are cooking in. Any addition of fat that you might add during cooking would be only to add flavor and not to act as a cooking medium.
Baking cooks food by surrounding them with hot, dry air. This is similar to roasting, except that one does not baste the food as you would during roasting.
You broil foods by using a heat source located above the food item. Broiling is a quick technique that is generally used for smaller pieces of meat or fish. You can broil almost any kind of food, but delicate items should be brushed with a marinade or butter to help them keep moist and to facilitate browning.
You grill foods by keeping the heat source below the food. Grilled foods have a charred or smoky flavour resulting from the flaring of juices and fats that render out as the items cook. The drippings that would otherwise collect or reduce if you cooked in a sauté pan actually reduce directly on the grilled foods surface.
This cooks food by surrounding them with hot dry air. Roasted foods are often basted during cooking. Meat should always be seared first over direct heat and then cooked at a higher rack. Allow roasted items to rest before service to allow the juices to distribute evenly throughout the food.
The juices from a roasting pan are very flavourful and make a great gravy. Just add a splash of water or wine to loosen the drippings.
You can smoke foods on a grill, in a smoker or even in a pan, on your stove top. Two basic methods are generally used for smoking:
Cold Smoking: Here only smoke is present but no heat. You should be able to hold your hand above the wood chips and feel only a slight warmth. This method infuses a smoky flavour to the food and does not cook it completely.
Hot Smoking: Some of the wood chips have a red glow to them which conducts heat and helps the food to get cooked apart from even smoking them.
You can use special wood like grapevine, hickory, apple or mesquite to introduce a particular flavour .
You can smoke right on your stove tops by adding some wood chips in a deep pan, lighting them, putting the food on a rack above the wood, And cover with a tight lid.
Sous Vide Cooking Method:
Sous-vide (French for “under vacuum”) is a method of cooking food sealed in airtight plastic bags in a water bath for longer than normal cooking times—72 hours in some cases—at an accurately regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking, typically around 55 °C (131 °F) to 60 °C(140 °F) for meats and higher for vegetables. The intention is to cook the item evenly, and not to overcook the outside while still keeping the inside at the same “doneness”, keeping the food juicier. It helps to extend the shelf life of inventory by diminishing contact with aerobic bacteria. As may also be done in traditional poaching, sealing the food in sturdy plastic bags keeps in juices and aroma that would otherwise be lost in the process.