Cooking Techniques: The Basics

Should I slice, shred, or julienne my vegetables? What’s the difference between chopping, dicing, and mincing? Are boiling and simmering the same thing?  What about bake and broil? What does it mean to steam, sear, and saute?


Cooking is a language of its own. Whether you are new to the scene or a veteran in the kitchen, it’s helpful to know the basic techniques.

Bake– dry heat is applied equally to all sides-top, bottom, and sides

Boil– cooking food rapidly in liquid at the boiling point; bubbles break through the surface as the rest of the liquid churns

Broil– heat is applied directly on top part of the food only

Chop– to cut an ingredient into large, fairly rough pieces

Dice– to cut an ingredient into small, uniform cubes, approx. 1/4″-1/8″

Julienne– to cut an ingredient, usually a vegetable, into thin slices that resemble matchsticks

Mince-to chop very finely into tiny, uniform pieces, approx. 1/8″

Saute– small pieces of food are cooked evenly over medium to high heat; food is tossed a bit into the air or stirred frequently so that it cooks evenly

Sear– the surface of food is cooked at high temperatures to brown the surface

Shred-to cut into long, irregular, thin pieces

Simmer– cooking food slowly and gently just under the boiling point; bubbles break through the surface every few seconds

Slice– a thin, broad piece cut across the length of the ingredient

Steam-food is placed in a basket above boiling water and are cooked from the steam let off

By Jocelyn Robancho


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