Cooking in Liquid
There is more than one way to cook eggs. Some people like them to be boiled so that they are hard-cooked, while others prefer their eggs lightly poached so that they are softer in texture. Boiling and poaching are both moist cooking techniques.
Cooking food using a moist technique involves heating food in a liquid other than oil. Moist cooking techniques include boiling, blanching, parboiling, simmering, poaching, and steaming. Sometimes, a moist cooking technique is applied to foods that have already been partially cooked using a dry cooking technique. This section will introduce you to moist and combination cooking techniques.
When you cook foods in water or other liquids, foods are completely submerged, or covered in liquid. Boiling, simmering, and poaching involve cooking in liquid. The done-ness of food will depend on the type of food that is cooked and the specific method chosen.
Boiling is a moist cooking technique in which you bring a liquid, such as water or stock, to the boiling point and keep it at that temperature while the food cooks. The boiling point, or temperature at which a liquid boils, of water is 212°F (100°C) at sea level. When liquid reaches the boiling point, food can be added and cooked.
When liquid boils, a process called convection occurs. During convection, the liquid closest to the bottom of the pan is heated and rises to the top. Meanwhile, the cooler liquid descends to the bottom of the pan. This sets off a circular motion in the pan that keeps the food in constant motion. This motion keeps food from sticking to the pan.
Boiling cooks food quickly. However, it can be harmful to some food. The rapid circular motion of the liquid does not harm pasta, but it can break apart a tender piece of fish. Because of this, very few food items are cooked completely by boiling.
Cool Down One way to cool food immediately after blanching is to plunge it into ice water. What should be done with food after it has been blanched?
Using the boiling method to partially cook food is also known as blanching. It is a quick way to change the flavor and keep the color in foods. Blanching is usually a two-step process:
1. Completely submerge the food in a boiling liquid and blanch, or briefly cook, it.
2. Remove the blanched food from the liquid. To make sure the food stops cooking as soon as you remove it from the liquid, briefly plunge the food into ice water. This is called shocking. This will completely stop the cooking process. Remember that a blanched food item is only partially cooked. You will need a second stage of cooking to complete the cooking process. For example, you might first blanch green beans and then sauté them in butter and herbs.
Blanching has many uses. Blanching is sometimes used to:
• Simplify peeling of vegetables and fruits.
• Precook foods before they are frozen.
j Lock in the color of foods.
• Help preserve a food's nutrients.
• Remove excess salt from ham or pork.
• Remove blood from meats.
• Remove strong flavors from meats.
• Cook food partially to prepare it for faster service later.
Parboiling is a moist cooking technique that is similar to blanching. In parboiling, foods are put into boiling water and partially cooked. However, the cooking time for parboiling foods is longer than for blanching. Recipes that include parboiling will give you the exact timing for a particular food item. For example, ribs are often parboiled before they are grilled. This tenderizes the meat and reduces grilling time.
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