Basic Methods of Cooking



1. Cookery is the science of preparing food to ensure that it will appeal to the eye, be palatable, and be easily digested and that it will retain a maximum of its nutritive benefit.

2. Cooking is the application of heat in order to:

a. Destroy bacteria or other micro-organisms and any parasites that may be rpesent in raw food.

b. Soften the muscular fibres in meat.

c. Break down the starch grains in vegetables.

d. Generally make food easier to digest.


3. Foods are cooked by two basic methods:

a. MOIST HEAT.  Moist heat is the application of heat with the addition of water, milk, stock, etc.  This method is generally used for the less tender cuts of meat, fruits and vegetables, and specifically for those items that require a softening process.  There are four types of cooking with moist heat.

i. Boiling is cooking in water or another liquid at a temperature of 100oC.

ii. Simmering or stewing is cooking in water or another liquid at a temperature within a few degrees of boiling point.

iii. Braising is similar to simmering, and is a combination of roasting and stewing, it is used mainly for cooking inferior joints, poultry, offals and certain vegetables.  Meat or poultry should be sealed quickly in a hot oven on a bed of roots.  It should then be half covered with brown stock, covered with a lid and put back into the oven at a lower temperature about 180oC to raise.  Meat cooked in this way retains its own juices and also absorbs the flavour of the vegetables with which it is cooked.

iv. Steaming is cooking by passing steam from a closed boiler to a closed chamber or wet steaming oven; or by placing a steamer over an open boiler containing boiling water.  Although in many respects steaming has the same effects as boiling, it is a more gradual process and allows the natural juices to be retained more completely.  It is a satisfactory and economical means of cooking puddings and potatoes.

b. DRY HEAT.  Dry heat is a direct application of heat without the addition of a liquid.  There are four basic methods of cooking with dry heat.

i. Grilling is cooking by direct heat over coal, coke or charcoal, or under a gas flame or electric element.

ii. Roasting is cooking by dry heat in an oven.  Meat or poultry to be roasted should be put into a baking tray basted with dripping and placed in a very hot oven for just sufficient time to seal the pores of the flesh and prevent the loss of nutritious juices during the subsequent cooking process.  Cooking should then proceed at a lower tempeature about 180oC.

iii. Baking is cooking by dry heat in an oven without the addition of fat or basting.

iv. Frying is cooking with the aid of oils or fats, which should be sweet, clean and free from salt.  There are two methods - deep frying and shallow frying.

v. Deep frying is cooking by immersion in hot fat or oil. The fat must be of sufficient depth to cover the food.  When it is at the correct temperature, the fat will be still, not bubbling, and should give off a light blue haze.  If the fat is not hot enough, anything put into it will become sodden, greasy and unpalatable.

iv. Shallow frying is cooking in a small quantity of fat, just sufficient to cover the bottom of the pan.  Allow the fat to get thoroughly hot, without burning.  During cooking, the food must be turned over to cook evenly throughout.