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Methods of Cooking
Here are the most basic cooking techniques to help you survive your first culinary year as a university student.
This involves applying a dry convection heat to your food in an enclosed environment.
The dry heat involved in the baking process makes the outside of the food go brown, and keeps the moisture locked in.
Baking is regularly used for cooking pastries, bread and desserts.
This means cooking your food in fat – there are several variations of frying:
- Deep-frying, where the food is completely immersed in hot oil
- Stir-frying, where you fry the food very quickly on a high heat in a oiled pan
- Pan-frying, where food is cooked in a frying pan with oil; and
- Sauteing, where the food is browned on one side and then the other with a small quantity of fat or oil.
Frying is one of the quickest ways to cook food, with temperatures typically reaching between 175 – 225ºC.
Roasting is basically a high heat form of baking, where your food gets drier and browner on the outside by initial exposure to a temperature of over 500F.
This prevents most of the moisture being cooked out of the food.
The temperature is then lowered to between 425 and 450F to cook through the meat or vegetables.
This is a fast, dry and very hot way of cooking, where the food is placed under an intense radiant heat.
You can use various sources of heat for grilling: wood burning, coals, gas flame, or electric heating.
Before grilling, food can be marinaded or seasoned.
A similar method to grilling is broiling, where the heat source originates from the top instead of the bottom.
This means cooking your food in water vapour over boiling water.
For this, it’s handy to have a steamer, which consists of a vessel with a perforated bottom placed on top of another containing water.
Steam rises as the water boils, cooking the food in the perforated vessel above.
This involves a small amount of hot liquid, ideally at a temperature between 160 and 180F.
The cooking liquid is normally water, but you can also use broth, stock, milk or juice.
Common foods cooked by poaching include fish, eggs and fruit.
This involves cooking liquid on top of a stove in a pot or pan. It should be carried out on a low heat, and you will see bubbles appearing on the surface of the liquid as your dish cooks.
Similar to grilling, the heat source comes directly from the top.
You should be able to adjust your oven setting to broiling, but be careful, as this cooking methods works quickly and your meal could easily become burned.
Favourite dishes for broiling include chicken, beef and fish.
Here the food is part-cooked, and then immediately submerged in ice cold water to stop the cooking process.
All sorts of vegetables can be blanched, including green beans, asparagus and potatoes.
First the food is sauted or seared, and then simmered in liquid for a long period of time until tender.
Pot roasts, stews and casseroles can be cooked in this way if they contain larger food items such as poultry legs.
Again, the food is sauted or seared first, and then cooked in liquid, but normally uses smaller ingredients such as chopped meats or vegetables.
Need some inspiration for using these techniques? Take a look at our Student Recipes, filled with tasty dishes for you to try at breakfast, lunch, dinner or any other time of day!
We also have lots of information and advice on the different herbs and spices you can use in your cooking, how to keep your kitchen clean, budgeting for food, healthy eating, and a checklist of handy utensils you might need.
For more tips and advice on student cooking, please see: