Cook’s Encyclopedia – S

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

sablée: a rich short biscuit similar to shortbread, that it delicate in texture.
safflower oil: the vegetable oil that contains the highest proportion of polyunsaturated fats.
saffron: available in strands or ground form; imparts a yellow-orange colour to food once infused. Quality varies greatly; the best is the most expensive spice in the world. Should be stored in the freezer.
sage: a grey-green leaf herb with a slightly bitter flavour and distinctive aroma. Sold as fresh sprigs or dried leaves.
sago: also known as seed or pearl tapioca, it is from the sago palm, while tapioca is from the root of the cassava plant. Used in soups and desserts, often as a thickening agent.
sake: Japan’s favourite rice wine. If sake is unavailable, use dry sherry instead.
salsa: a combination of tomato, onion, pepper, vinegar, herbs and spices. Available in chunky-style and varying degrees of hotness.
salt cod: cod that has been salted and dried to preserve it for long periods of time. Salt cod is evident in cuisines of the Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas. To reconstitute the fish, you must soak it in many changes of fresh water to remove the excess salt. You may then poach the fish until it is just flaking off the bone, or use it raw for other preparations.
salted black beans: also known as Chinese black beans; these are fermented and salted soy beans available in cans and jars. Used most often in Asian cooking; chop before, or mash during cooking to release flavour.
saltimbocca: an Italian dish comprised of thin slices of veal, rolled around ham and cheese, seasoned with sage and braised until tender.
saltpetre: the name for potassium nitrate, which is used primarily in the meat industry to help preserve cured meats. It gives a distinctive pink colour to hams and bacon. There are recent reports from the USDA that nitrates, and nitrites are carcinogenic.
sambal oelek: (also ulek or olek) Indonesian in origin; a salty paste made from ground chillies.
sambuca: a semi-dry Italian liqueur flavoured with anise, herbs, berries, and spices.
samosa: an Indian snack of deep fried dumplings stuffed with curried vegetables. Most common of the fillings is potatoes or cauliflower with peas.
sanitise: to apply heat or chemicals or a combination of heat and chemicals so that the number of micro-organisms on a surface is reduced. Sanitising does not kill spores.
sashimi: a Japanese dish of raw fish, shellfish, and molluscs served with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled vegetables. Sushi is similar but it is served with vinegared rice, and may also include nori seaweed, vegetables, and strips of cooked eggs similar to omelettes. A common accompaniment to this is pickled ginger.
satay: also spelled sat, and sateh. These are pieces of meat or fish threaded onto skewers and grilled over a flame. Several variations of these are seen throughout Southeast Asia. A spicy peanut sauce is served with meat satay in Vietnam and Thailand.
satay sauce: traditional Indonesian/Malaysian spicy peanut sauce.
satay skewers: thin bamboo skewers which should be soaked in water and dipped in oil before use.
saturated fats: one of the three types of fats found in foods. These exist in large quantities in animal products, coconut and palm oils; they raise the level of cholesterol in the blood. As high cholesterol levels may cause heart disease, saturated fat consumption is recommended to be less than 15 percent of calories provided by the daily diet.
saute: to fry briskly using a small amount of fat in a shallow frying pan over moderately high heat. The food is turned or tossed for even browning.
savarin: a ring-shaped cake made of a rich yeast dough, soaked with a rum syrup, and filled with pastry or whipped cream.
savoiardi: also known as Savoy biscuits, ladyfingers or sponge finger biscuits, these are Italian-style crisp fingers made from sponge cake mixture.
savoy cabbage: large, heavy head with crinkled dark-green outer leaves; a peppery-tasting green leaf. Baby rocket leaves are smaller and less peppery.
scald: to bring just to boiling point, usually for milk. Also to rinse with boiling water.
scales: for accurate measurement of food weight.
scampi: another word for langoustine. This word is used in the US as a description of shrimp broiled with butter, lemon, and garlic.
scone: a small, lightly sweetened pastry similar to American biscuits, often flavoured with currants.
score: to mark food with cuts, notches or lines to prevent curling or to make food more attractive.
seafood marinara mix: a mixture of uncooked, chopped seafood available from fish retailers.
sear: to brown surface quickly over high heat in hot dish.
season: adding flavour and taste to foods by using salt, pepper, herbs or spices.
seasoned flour: flour with salt and pepper added.
seasoned salt: to make your own: combine 2 tablespoons coarse kitchen salt with 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder in heavy-based pan. Stir over low heat for 2 minutes.
sea urchin: a round spiny creature found off the coasts of Europe and America. The only edible portion is the coral, usually eaten raw with fresh lemon juice.
seaweed: kelp konbu basis of dashi and simple boiled dishes to add slight flavour. Konbu should be thick and a glossy black or greenish brown in colour, and sometimes has a white powdery surface. Do not rinse but just wipe with a cloth or absorbent paper before use so as not to remove surface flavour; always remove konbu just before water boils because it can develop a bitter flavour if boiled. Cut the konbu pieces at intervals along edges to release extra flavour during the cooking process. Laver, dried nori or soft seaweed; can be toasted quickly on one side over high heat or under griller until it becomes slightly crisp. Toasted yaki-nori seaweed that is available already toasted in 10-sheet packages. Used in rolled sushi or crumbled over steamed rice with soy sauce. Can be refrigerated, frozen or stored in airtight container and kept cool, dark and dry. Shredded ao-nori small pieces of shredded dried laver seaweed used as an edible garnish. Dried wakame a bright-green lobe-leafed seaweed usually sold in dry form and used in soups and salads. It shouldn’t be simmered for more than a minute as it loses nutrients and colour. Dried wakame must be softened by soaking in water for about 10 minutes; discard hard stems.
semifreddo: meaning “half cold”, this is gelato with whipped cream folded into it.
semolina: made from durum wheat milled into various textured granules, all of which are finer than flour.
sesame oil: made from roasted, crushed white sesame seeds. Do not use for frying.
sesame seeds: tiny oval seeds harvested from the tropical plant sesamum indicum which grows widely in India and other parts of Asia. Available in raw, roasted, ground or paste. The Middle Eastern condiment, tahini, can be substituted for grinding your own seeds to a paste.
seviche: a Spanish dish of raw fish, scallops, or shrimp marinated in citrus juices until the flesh becomes “cooked”. Onions, peppers, and chillies are then added to finish the dish.
shallots: also known as eschalots of French shallots. Small, golden-brown or red bulbs, grown in clusters.
shallow frying: frying with little fat or with only sufficient to half immerse food.
shaoxing wine: China’s most famous rice wine is aged for at least 10 years, giving it a warm amber colour and mellow flavour. Not suitable for drinking. Available from Asian food stores.
sherry: fortified wine consumed as an aperitif or used in cooking. Sold as fine (dry, light), amontillado (medium-sweet, dark) and oloroso (full-bodied, very dark).
sherry vinegar: made using young acidic sherry from the Jerez de la Frontera region of Spain. Matured in oak sherry casks. Available from continental delicatessens and specialty food stores.
shortbread: a butter-rich cookie from Scotland, often seasoned with lemon, cinnamon, ginger, almonds, and cumin.
short pasta: any small pasta, for instance, orecchiette, penne, farfalle or little shells.
shortcrust pastry (ready-rolled frozen): packaged sheets of frozen shortcrust pastry; available from supermarkets.
shoyu: Japanese for Soy Sauce.
shrimp paste: also known as kapi, trasi and blanchan; a strong-scented, very firm preserved paste made of salted dried shrimp. Used as a pungent flavouring in many South-East Asian soups and sauces. It should be chopped or sliced thinly then wrapped in foil and roasted before use.
sichuan peppercorns: also known as szechuan or Chinese pepper. Small, red-brown aromatic seeds with a distinctive mild peppery-lemon flavour.
sieve/strainer: used for sift dry ingredients such as flour or straining liquid off foods such as pasta and rice.
sift: to place dry ingredients such as flour and salt through a sieve to aerate and remove lumps.
silverbeet: member of the beet family. A green-leafed vegetable with sturdy celery- like white stems; also known as Swiss chard and, incorrectly, spinach. Can be used similarly to spinach.
simmer: keep a liquid at just below boiling point, with small bubbles rising to the surface.
singe: to quickly flame poultry to remove all traces of feathers after plucking.
skate wings: This is the edible portion of the skate. The flesh, when cooked, separates into little fingers of meat and has a distinctive rich, gelatinous texture. The taste is similar to that of scallops.
skim: to remove a surface layer (often of impurities and scum) from a liquid with a metal spoon or small ladle.
slice: to cut food (like carrots, onions or tomatoes) into strips or rounds using a sharp knife. Hold the food firmly on a chopping board while slicing.
slivered: sliced in long, thin pieces, usually refers to nuts, especially almonds.
smorgasbord: a Swedish buffet of many dishes served as hors d’oeuvres or a full meal. Similar buffets are served throughout Scandinavia, as well as the Soviet Union. Common elements of a smorgasbord are pickled herring, marinated vegetables, smoked and cured salmon and sturgeon, and a selection of canapés.
snake beans: long (about 40cm), thin, fresh green beans that are Asian in origin.
snapper: ranges from plate-size to large; has firm, white, moist flesh and suits most cooking methods, except deep-frying.
snickers bar: made from chocolate, peanuts, sugar, glucose, milk powder, butter and egg white.
snow peas: also called mange tout (“eat all”). Snow pea sprouts produce succulent stems and leaves.
soba: thin spaghetti-like pale brown noodle from Japan made from varying amounts of buckwheat and wheat flour. Used in soups and stir-fries.
soften: example: gelatine – sprinkle over cold water and allow to gel (soften) then dissolve and liquefy.
soluble: something that is soluble is able to be dissolved to form a solution. For example, instant coffee is soluble.
solution: a liquid into which a solid has been mixed and has dissolved.
sour cream, light: a low-fat sour cream with approximately 18 per cent fat content.
sourdough rolls: made from fermented flour, sugar and water; has a distinctive sour or tangy taste.
souse: to cover food, particularly fish, in wine vinegar and spices and cook slowly; the food is cooled in the same liquid. Sousing gives food a pickled flavour.
soy sauce: made from fermented soy beans. Light soy sauce is light in colour but generally quite salty. Salt-reduced soy sauce contains less salt.
spanish onion: a purplish-red onion with a mild flavour. Also known as red onion.
spatchcock: a small chicken (poussin), no more than 6 weeks old, weighing a maximum 500g. Also, a cooking technique where a small chicken is split open, then flattened and grilled.
spatzlé: this is a coarse noodle from Alsace and Germany made of flour, eggs, oil, and water. The soft dough is dropped into boiling water (with a spatzlé press) and poached until cooked through. The noodle is then fried in butter or oil and served as a side dish to meat dishes. Spatzlé may also be flavoured with cheese, mushrooms, and herbs.
speck: smoked pork.
spiedini: an Italian word for skewers of meat or fish grilled over a flame or under a broiler.
spinach: also known as English spinach and incorrectly, silverbeet; has tender green leaves. Baby spinach leaves are slightly more tender.
split peas: also known as field peas, green or yellow pulse grown for dryuingl split in half along a centre seam.
spring roll: thin sheets of specialised dough which are filled with meat, seafood, or vegetables and rolled into logs. Spring rolls are most often deep fried, though they may also be steamed. Chinese versions use wheat doughs, while the Vietnamese and Thai versions use a rice paper wrapper.
spring roll wrappers: also known as egg roll wrappers; available in various sizes. Purchase fresh or frozen from Asian food stores. Use for making gow gee and samosas as well as spring rolls.
squid: also known as calamari; belongs to the marine family known as cephalods. Like octopus, they have eight small arms, but squid also have two additional long tentacles. Requires only brief cooking over high heat, or longer cooking over gentle heat.
squid hood: a type of mollusc also known as calamari. Buy squid hoods to make preparation easier.
stale breadcrumbs: break that is one or two days old made into crumbs by grating, blending or processing.
star anise: a dried star-shaped pod whose seeds have an astringent aniseed flavour; used to flavour stocks and marinades.
starfruit: also known as carambola, five-corner fruit or Chinese star fruit; can be pale green or yellow. It has a clean, crisp texture; flavour may be either sweet or sour depending on variety and when picked. There is no need to peel or seed it and it is slow to discolour.
steam: to cook food in a stem oven or in a steam basket over a covered pan of boiling water.
steaming: to cook by vapour from boiling water.
steep: to soak in warm or cold liquid in order to soften food and draw out strong flavours or impurities.
stew: to cook food by barely covering it with liquid and simmering slowly for a long period of time in a tightly covered pot.
stir: to move a wooden or metal spoon in circles through a mixture.
stir fry: to cook even sized pieces of food in a little oil in a frying pan or wok over a high heat while stirring frequently.
stock: a liquid resulting from simmering bones, meat and vegetables in water for several hours. Stock cubes, powder or concentrated liquid can be used. As a guide, 1 teaspoon of stock powder or 1 small crumbled stock cube or 1 portion stock concentrate mixed with 1 cup (250ml) water will give a fairly strong stock. Be aware of the salt and fat content of stocks.
stout beer: usually darker and heavier than ale due to the colour and flavour from the roasted malt used in its production.
string beans, yellow: also known as wax, French, butter and runner beans; yellow-coloured fresh “green” beans.
stringy: something that is stringy has a characteristic that is similar to string.
strong flour: strong flour (also known as baker’s, bread, pizza or special ) has a higher gluten content than normal flour and generally produces bread of greater volume because more air is trapped in the dough as it cooks. (As opposed to everyday household flour which is soft, and creates more of a crumbly texture for cakes and pastries).
strudel: paper thin pastry rolled around sweet fillings of fruit, nuts, or cheese. Savoury versions of this are similar to the Russian coulibiac.
stud: to ador with; for example, baked ham studded with whole cloves.
sugar: brown a soft, finely granulated sugar that retains molasses for its characteristic colour and flavour. Caster also known as superfine or finely granulated table sugar. Cinnamon combination of ground cinnamon and caster sugar. Icing sugar mixture also known as confectioners’ sugar or powdered sugar; granulated sugar crushed together with a small amount of cornflour added. Palm also known as jaggery, gula jawa and gula melaka; made from the coconut palm. Dark brown to black in colour and usually sold in rock hard cakes. Dark brown sugar can be substituted.
sugar snap peas: small pods with small, formed peas inside; eaten whole, raw or cooked.
sugar syrup: differentiating from natural syrups, this term refers to a solution of sugar and water. Simple syrups are made with equal quantities of water and sugar. Heavy syrup is made with twice as much sugar as water. These types of syrups are used in making sorbets, soft drinks, and for soaking cakes.
sugo: an Italian sauce made from the liquid or juice extracted from fruit or meat during cooking.
sukiyaki sauce: cooking sauce for sukiyaki (one-pot dish). Made from soy sauce, sugar, sake (dry rice wine) and mirin (sweet rice wine). Available in bottles from Asian grocery stores.
sultanas: golden raisins.
sumac: a purple-red, astringent spice ground from berries growing on shrubs that flourish wild around the Mediterranean. Adds a tart, lemony flavour to dishes.
sushi fan: flat fan made of paper or silk and stretched over bamboo ribs; used to cool sushi rice.
sushi mould: wooden box used as a large mould for pressed sushi.
sweat: to cook sliced or chopped food, usually vegetables, in a little fat and no liquid over very low heat. Foil is pressed on top so that the food steams in its own juices, usually before being added to other dishes. To cook vegetables over heat until only juices run.
sweet chilli sauce: comparatively mild, Thai-type sauce made from red chillies, sugar, garlic and white wine vinegar.
sweetbreads: the thymus glands from veal, lamb and pork. They are very perishable, so cook within a day of purchase.
sweetened condensed milk: milk from which 60% of the water has been removed; the remaining milk is then sweetened with sugar.
sweet sherry: fortified wine consumed as an aperitif or used in cooking.
swordfish: extremely large fish, sold in steaks or cutlets. Dense meaty flesh, with a tendency to dry out during cooking; best cooked medium-rare. Suits barbecuing, char-grilling, baking and pan-frying. Tuna or marlin may be substituted in most recipes.
syllabub: an English dessert comprised mainly of whipped cream sweetened with sugar and flavoured with sherry, brandy, or Cointreau. Lemon zest, fruit preserves or puree may also be swirled into the cream.
syrup: a solution of sugar and water.

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