Methods of Cooking – Important Basics
Thanks to our ancestors, they did all the groundwork and invented different cooking methods so that we today can enjoy tasty foods using various cooking methods. Although we don’t think of it much and thus don’t realize, but there is a surprising variety in the methods of cooking, with some or the other benefits of each of them. It’s interesting to know about these methods. Here’s a small account of various cooking methods which can be helpful to you if you’re looking forward to making delicious food at home.
Classification of Cooking Methods Depending Upon the Involvement of Water
Depending upon the water to be added or not to be added, cooking methods can be classified in three types. Most local and continental recipes come under one of these three categories.
- Cooking by moist heat: The cooking methods like boiling, steaming, pressure cooking, simmering/stewing, poaching etc. come under this category. Here water is added to the dish.
- Cooking by dry heat: Methods like baking, grilling and roasting which don’t involve addition of water right at the time of heating but before that come under this category.
- Frying in oil or ghee: Methods like deep frying, stir frying, pan frying and shallow frying come under this category. This doesn’t include addition of water.
Here are short descriptions of each cooking method.
Boiling: In boiling, food is cooked in a required amount of water. Boiling is used to cook veggies like carrots, cauliflower, potatoes etc. and also to cook rice, legumes, meat, fish and eggs.
Steaming: In steaming too, the food is cooked in water. However, the food is kept separated from the water and it is cooked due to the heat of the vapor of the water. This method retains the nutrition, color and flavor of the food to most extent. It’s also easy to digest. In case of leafy greens, they are cooked with the heat of vapor of the water content in them.
Pressure Cooking: Pressure cooking is done in a special type of utensil called a pressure cooker. Here boiling, steaming and pressure are used to cook food. You have to add water to the pressure cooker and sometimes even to the food to be cooked, and then place the weight valve or pressure regulator on vent pipe in the lid. The steam generated inside the cooker increases the pressure and temperature in the cooker, and food is cooked. Pressure cooking is one of the fastest methods of cooking.
Simmering/Stewing: In simmering or stewing too the food is cooked in water, however, when the water comes to boil, the flame is simmered and the food is allowed to cook slowly so that the water extracts the juices in the food. Of course, this water is also served along with the food. For example, while making homemade tomato paste, you have to cook tomatoes by stewing them.
Poaching: In poaching, the food is cooked by submerging in a liquid such as water, wine, stock etc. It differs from boiling and simmering in that the temperature is relatively low. This is suitable for foods like fish and eggs.
Baking: In baking, the food is first made ready with various contents which may include water and then it’s placed in an appliance like an oven, and then cooked.
Roasting: In roasting, food is cooked by placing it on direct fire. Roasting makes the food light to digest and extremely tasty. Potatoes, eggplants, beans and peas can be roasted to make them light and yummy.
Grilling: In grilling, food is cooked by placing it over an iron grid or skewers which is then placed on fire.
Frying: Frying doesn’t involve water but some kind of fat like oil, ghee or butter. When it’s completely submerged in the fat, it’s called deep frying while, when it’s placed on a skillet and the fat is added from its sides or drizzled over it, it’s called shallow frying. When it’s fried while stirring vigorously, it’s called stir-frying.
Today various new methods and appliances of cooking have been introduced, like induction cooker, air fryer, and more. Still the above-mentioned traditional cooking methods prevail because they don’t need any special appliances and thus are easy and economical. While learning the basics of cooking, you need to learn them, and only then you can become a good food-maker.