7 Cooking Methods Every Chef Should Master

By: The Art Institutes Filed under: Culinary

November 14, 2018

Being a masterful chef starts with understanding your ingredients and the diverse possibilities opened up by the cooking methods you choose. If you want to build your culinary skills, start by practicing and perfecting these 7 fundamental cooking methods.

1. Steam

What: With steaming, the rising steam from a hot liquid does the cooking. You may choose steaming from your repertoire of cooking methods to showcase the natural, nutrient-rich flavors of seafood and vegetables, and allow the food to keep its texture, shape, and color.

How: Bring water to a boil in a pot or saucepan. Place your food in a steamer basket and set the basket above the boiling water inside the pan. Steaming time depends on what is cooking.

2. Blanch

What: Blanching is another quick cooking method that produces tender yet crisp vegetables, with their color and much of their nutrients still intact.

How: Bring salted water to a boil. Add vegetables, return to a boil quickly, and cook vegetables for 2-7 minutes without a lid. Then, drain the water and stop the cooking by immediately dunking your produce in ice water or rinsing them in cold water.

3. Sear

What: Among the most popular cooking methods for meat and fish, searing involves using high heat to create an attractive, caramelized brown crust that builds flavor and results in an appealing taste and texture contrasts between the crisp exterior and delicate tender interior.

How: Pat the food with a paper towel to remove moisture. Then, preheat your pan over high heat with a small amount of oil. Once the oil is shimmering hot, add your food and allow it a few minutes of uninterrupted cooking time per side. Do not flip it until it lifts easily from the pan. Thin cuts may be fully cooked by searing while thicker cuts require additional cooking methods.

4. Braise

What: Braising is done for large proteins after searing, and the food is cooked slowly over low heat, until tender while partially covered with a liquid such as stock or wine.

How: Sear both sides of the meat and remove it from the pan. Add your liquid and return the meat to the pan and cover. Cook the meat in the oven or on the stovetop for a few hours, adding additional liquid as needed.

5. Poach

What: Poaching is an ideal cooking method for delicate foods like fish, fruit, eggs, or even poultry and requires submerging and cooking food in a liquid at a temperature below simmering. 

How: Heat liquid (water, stock, juice, milk, etc.) to between 160° to 180° Fahrenheit. Submerge your food in the liquid and ensure the temperature stays within that range. Most food will be ready in under 10 minutes.

6. Roast

What: Roasting uses the dry heat of hot air for cooking. It can bring out the full flavor potential of vegetables and achieve an even, tender, and golden-brown finish on large pieces of meat.

How: Preheat your oven and place the food on a prepared dish or sheet. Add a bit of fat, such as olive oil or butter, to the outside of food to prevent it from drying. Dishes typically cook uncovered.

7. Grill

What: Grilling is a fast, dry, and high-temperature method for cooking on a metal grate over an open flame. Charred grill marks can add flavor but quickly dry food out if done improperly. Use grilling for small, tender food items that are high quality and consistent in shape.

How: Oil and season food as desired. Heat the grill to a high temperature and ensure that temperature is maintained. After placing your food on the grill, flip it as few times as possible. Rest grilled meats before cutting.

Learn How to Apply These Cooking Methods and More

The Culinary programs at The Art Institutes system of schools can prepare you for exciting, fast-paced culinary careers. In our Culinary Arts and Culinary Management programs, you’ll start with the fundamentals and grow from there—first learning things like knife skills, using kitchen tools, and practicing culinary techniques and cooking methods from around the world. Our faculty experts* will guide you through everything from basic cuts to managing a menu to working as part of a team. Find the right program at a campus near you and learn more today!

*Credentials and experience levels vary by faculty and instructors.

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