A Short List of Menu Terms
- Ahi is the
Hawaiian name for yellowfin and bigeye tuna.
- Aioli is garlic-infused
mayonnaise and a specialty of Provence. It is
served as a condiment with meats, fish, and vegetables and it is used to
- Beignets, which
means "fritters" in French. These yeast pastries, deep fried and
served hot, are a traditional specialty of New
Orleans. They can be savory or sweet.
- Bocconcini (Italy)
- Bocconcini means "a mouthful" and
small nuggets of fresh mozzarella. It can also describe tempting Italian
- Brodetto (Italy)
- Brodetto is the name most
often used for fish soup along Italy's Adriatic
coast. On the Tuscan coast, fish soup is
called caciucco while on the Riviera, ciuppin. The profusion of names,
though, does not begin to capture the variety of Italian fish soups, a
special recipe for which each town and everyone of its families
- Buerek (Eastern Europe)
flaky pastry like filo is stuffed with cheese and baked.
- Carpaccio (Italy)
presents shavings of raw meat fillet, drizzled with olive oil.
Traditionally, the raw item was beef fillet served with lemons and
a mayonnaise or mustard sauce and garnished with capers. Nowadays,
you can find all sorts of carpaccio including tuna, venison, buffalo, and
even ostrich. Incidentally, the name is a tribute to the Renaissance
painter Vittore Carpaccio, who was quite liberal in his use of blood-red
- Chasoba (Japan)
- Soba is a noodle made from buckwheat and wheat
flour. Cha is Japanese for tea. Chasoba is soba made with
green tea powder.
- Confit (France)
- A specialty of the Gascony
region, confit is a preserved food item, usually a meat like duck,
goose, or pork. The meat is salted and cooked slowly in its own fat.
It is then packed into a pot and covered with the cooking fat, which
works as a seal and preservative. Confit as a preparation is
not applied to meat alone. For example, a head of garlic or a lemon
can be cooked and preserved in oil or lard.
- Consommé (France)
- Consommé, a clarified broth
made from meat or fish stock, can be served hot or cold or used as a
base for soups and sauces.
- Coulis (France)
- Originally coulis referred
to the juice of cooked meat, but now the definition is broader. A
coulis is a thick purée or sauce, which can be made
from fruits or vegetables -- like tomatoes or raspberries -- as well as
meat. Coulis can also describe a thick, puréed seafood soup.
- Dashi (Japan)
- A key ingredient
in Japanese cooking, dashi is a soup stock
made from bonito flakes, kombu (a seaweed), and water.
- Epazote (Mexico)
- Prominent in Mexican cooking, this
herb (some would say weed), which is also
known as pigweed and Jerusalem oak, has a pungent smell, a strong taste,
cilantro, can take some getting used to.
- Foie gras(France)
- Foie gras is the oversized
liver of a goose or duck (goose is preferred) that has been force fed for
four to five months. Because the specially-bred fowl are not allowed to
exercise, the livers become huge and fatty. Pâté de foie
gras by law must contain 80 percent pureed goose liver and could
also contain items like pork liver, truffles, or eggs. Often paired
with truffles, both are characteristic of the cuisine of the Périgord region
- Fumet is the name of a
variety of concetrated liquids that are used to enhance the flavor or
body of stocks and sauces. Fumets are made by boiling chicken or
fish or mushrooms or vegetables (depending on the kind of fumet you're making) in
stock or wine.
- Galette (France)
- A galette is a round, flat
cake made from flaky-pastry, yeast dough, or unleavened dough. It is the
traditional cake made for Twelfth Night celebrations in France. The term is also used for a variety of
savory and sweet tarts.
- Granita (Italy)
- Granita is the
Italian term for an ice made of water, sugar, and a flavoring such
as wine, coffee, or fruit juice.
- Gaufrettes (France)
- These thin, sweet, fan-shaped wafers
are often served with desserts like puddings and ice creams. Sometimes,
their surface is waffled and sometimes, they're folded to form an ice
cream cone. Gaufrettes made from potatoes
(gaufrettes pommes de terre) are latticed crips.
- Heirloom Seeds (United States)
- As agriculture became big business in the U.S., the
focus on plant hybrids caused a depletion in the variety of native,
non-hybrid plants. About 25 years ago, some farmers became convinced
that diversity and flavor were being sacrificed to the corporate need for uniform, pretty produce tough enough to stand
trans-continental transport to the supermarket. They started saving and
growing the old-fashioned, open-pollinated (without human intervention)
seed varieties. These are now known as heirloom seeds, and their
offspring are available in specialty produce and farmers markets.
- Hoisin Sauce (China)
- Also called
Peking sauce, hoisin sauce, is a mixture of garlic, soybeans, chiles and
various spices. It is thick, reddish-brown, spicy-sweet and used often in
- When herbs or
fruit or tea leaves are seeped in a hot liquid, like water or milk, the result is an
"infusion" (all teas are infusions).
- Jicama (Mexico)
- Jicama is sometimes called a
Mexican Potato. It is, after all, a root vegetable with a light brown
skin and white flesh. Unlike a potato, though, its nutty, apple-like flavor
tempts when served raw or cooked.
- John Dory
- Fished in Europe,
John Dory is a strange looking fish with a big head and a flat,
oval body. This midl-flavored fish is rarely exported to the
U.S.; good substitutes for it are flounder, porgy, and sole.
- Jus (France)
- Jus, the French word
for juice, can refer to fruit, vegetable juices, and meat
juices. When a dish (generally a meat dish) is served au jus,
it is served with its own juices.
- Mizuna or Mizuma
- A member of the mustard family,
mizuna is a Japanese bitter green with spiky leaves. It is often
mixed into mesclun
- Nage (France)
- Shellfish may be prepared a la
nage, literally "swimming." They are cooked in a court-bouillon flavored with herbs and served hot or cold in this broth.
- Paillard (France)
- A thin, oval piece of meat,
usually veal or beef, that is quickly sautéed or grilled.
names a mixture of ground meats and meat fats, game or liver, truffles
and perhaps, butter, port, Madeira or cognac, herbs and spices. It can be
smooth or coarse. If the mixture is served cold, in its baking dish or
molded in aspic (a savory jelly), it can be called a pâté or a
terrine. Pâté en croûte is pâté
inside of a pastry crust. A galantine is a bird that has been boned and
stuffed with pâté.
- Pancetta (Italy)
- This Italian bacon is
cured with spices and salt, but it is not smoked. It is slightly salty,
very tasty, and comes in a sausage-like roll.
- Pirojkis or Piroshkis (Russia)
- These small turnovers
or dumplings have an infinite number of filling, savory and sweet.
They can be baked of fried. Pirogis are bigger pirojkis.
- Pouissin (France)
- French for a small,
- Lemon juice or rice
vinegar, soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice wine) or
sake, kombu (a seaweed) and bonito flakes are all mixed to make this
Japanese dipping sauce.
- Pot-au-Feu (France)
- Literally "pot on fire," this is a dish of meat and vegetables that
have been slowly cooked together in water. The rich broth which results
is served with croutons as a first course. Then, the meat and vegetables are served as an entrée. The combination of meats and
vegetables varies by region. If the meat has bones with marrow, the marrow
may be served on toast as another course before the entrée.
- These light dumplings of
seasoned ground fish, meat or vegetables are bound with eggs and
poached in stock.
- Rémoulade (France)
classic French sauce mixes mustard, capers,
gherkins, herbs and anchovies with mayonnaise. It is served chilled.
- Rissolé (France)
- Food that has been fried to a
- Risotto (Italy)
- An Italian rice specialty,
risotto is prepared by mixing hot stock into arborio rice (short, fat, Italian-grown rice) that has been
sautéed in butter. Risottos can take many forms; some are soupy, others rich and solid.
- Rouille (France)
- A French sauce whose name translates
literally as "rust." Chiles, garlic, bread crumbs and olive oil are
pounded into a spicy, rust-colored paste and lightened with fish stock. It
often garnishes bouillabaisse.
- Roulade (France)
- For a roulade, meat is thinly
sliced and rolled around a savory filling. The
packet is secured with a string or pick, browned, then braised or baked in stock or wine. In Italy, it
is called braciola and in Germany, rouladen. A
roulade can also be a dessert made with an airy egg-white mix, like a souffle, that's spread in
a jelly roll pan, baked until firm but moist, slathered with a sweet or savory filling
and rolled up.
- Salsify, a root
vegetable, is also called an oyster plant because of its delicate,
oyster-ish flavor. Shaped like a parsnip, a salsify usually has white
flesh and greyish skin (there are other varieties with golden skin and
- This jagged leaf of
the perilla plant is widely used in Japanese cooking.
- Tadziki is a cool salad of
cucumber and yogurt seasoned with mint, garlic, and sometimes a spritz
- Tagine (Morocco)
- Tagine, like
terrine, names both a pot and a dish. It is an earthenware pot
with a distinctive, conical lid as well as a spicy meat or poultry stew.
- Taramasalata (Greece)
creamy spread is made by mixing tarama, the pale orange roe of
carp, with lemon juice, olive oil, milk-soaked bread crumbs, and seasoning.
- Taro Root
potato-esque root has brown skin and grayish flesh that is sometimes
tinged with purple. Grown in tropical regions, it is important in
the diets of West Africa, the Caribbean, and the Polynesian islands.
When cooked, taro root has a nutty flavor. The large edible leaves
of the root, called Callaloo in the Caribbean, can be
prepared like mustard or turnip greens.
- Tartare (Probably
- Tartare is raw meat (beef, tuna, salmon, etc.)
that is coarsely ground or finely chopped and
seasoned with salt, pepper, and herbs.
- Terrine (France)
- A terrine is a molding
dish used for pâté, which can be made of coarsely- or
smoothly- ground meat, fish, mushrooms, or whatever. It used to be that when
a pâté was served in its dish, it was called a
terrine. Today, the terms pâté and terrine are used
- Timbale (France)
- Timbale names a drum-shaped,
tapered mold and a dish cooked in such a mold. The dish Timbale
usually bakes custard, risotto, or
forcemeat into the timbale mold. Once turned out of the mold, the dish is served with a sauce like béchamel.
- Tournedos is a piece of beef
about 1 inch thick and 2-1/2 inches in diameter that has been cut from the
tenderloin. It is a very lean cut of beef.
- Tuile (France)
- A tuile, the word for "tile" in
French, is a thin cookie that is rounded while hot (by being placed over
a curved object, like a cup or rolling pin, or by being baked in a
tuile mold) so that when cooled and hardened it looks like a
curved roof tile. A traditional tuile is made from crushed
- This puff pastry is shaped like a pot
with a lid. It can be small or large and is traditionally filled with a
cream-sauce mixture and chicken, fish, meat or vegetables.
Vol-au-vent means "flying in the wind," and is meant to
describe the lightness of this pastry pot.
- Zabaione or Zabaglione
- This delicate, all-purpose dessert combines egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala
over simmering water until they thicken into a frothy custard. It is
known in France as sabayon.
- Zahtar (Middle East
and North Africa)
- Zahtar mixes sesame seeds, powdered
sumac, and dried thyme for a spice blend that's used to flavor
meats and vegetables. It is also mixed with oil and used as a
spread for bread.