Cracking the code on cheffy terms

By
Sarah Cuthbert
Added
28 August, 2018

Sometimes fine-dining menus can seem like more of a maze than a relaxing pre-dining experience. Here, we breakdown some of the cheffy terms you’re likely to come across and include recipes so you can test them out at home.

You’ve gotten home from work, reheated Tuesday’s leftovers of spaghetti bolognese, twice, doused it in bubbling hot cheese and served it with frozen peas. Shall we call that Thrice-cooked locally sourced beef ragu with cheese foam and seasonal greens?

The language of food has a way of drawing us in and whetting our appetites, but sometimes deciphering the menu can feel like more of a maze than a relaxing pre-dining experience. We’ve cracked the code on some of the cheffy terms you’re likely to come across and included recipes so you can test out these new terms at home.

Jus – A jus is simply a thin gravy or sauce made from the juice of meat. Make like Mark Best and master the jus at home by using cornflour and water to thicken pan juices after making a roast or steak. Why not try a roast chicken from his book Marque, served with roast potatoes to soak up your handiwork!

Foams – These feather-light sauces have increased in popularity as a way of lightening creamy elements of a dish. With its fluffy, frothy texture, an aerated foam lends itself to seafood and desserts. To do this at home, you’ll need to invest in an espuma cream gun and some gas canisters from a specialty kitchen shop. Once you’ve got the tools, you’re set to go. Experiment with Justin North’s Becasse to serve a herb foam with seafood.

Smoking – No longer reserved for salmon, chefs and home cooks now utilise this ancient method to create dishes with complex flavours. To achieve these results at home you need some apple or hickory smoking chips from your local hardware or barbecue store. We think Huxaburger’s pulled-pork burger would be a good way to test out this technique, or if you’re feeling a little more refined, Skye Gyngell’s tea-smoked quail.

Sous vide – This method of cookery involves sealing food in vacuum bags and cooking them in a water bath at a set temperature for a period of time. A great way to lock in moisture and flavour – plus it gives you plenty of control over the final texture of your dish. You’re likely to find plenty of recipes using this method from top restaurant chefs – try it with chicken, fish or go for perfectly cooked wagyu beef from Mark Best.

En papillote – A fancy way of saying "cooked in paper". The French make things sound so much more romantic, don’t they? Pop some cod in a baking paper parcel for a Nordic adventure or venture into Middle Eastern territory with A la Greque’s chicken breast en papillote.

Confit – Another French term to add to the list, to confit a food is to cook it in grease, oil or sugar water. This classic method cooks and preserves ingredients – perfect for garlic or duck or even sweets, such as Greg and Lucy Malouf's confit date ice cream!

Spheres – Seems like everything is coming up dome moulds for dessert, with spheres now making regular appearances on restaurant menus. Fruit juices are being set as gels to pop in your mouth and ice cream served in chocolate shells covered in dry ice... try an ice-cream ball from Ruby Violet’s Ice Cream Dream or Daniel Wilson's dark chocolate delice.

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