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oak leaf lettuce: also known as Feuille de Chene. Available in both red and green leaf. Green oak leaf lettuce, also known as leaf lettuce, has soft, frilled leaves, a large heart and mild flavour.
ocean trout: known as sea trout in other countries; medium-sized fish with firm, moist, orange-pink flesh with sweet flavour. Suits all cooking methods except deep-frying; can be used interchangeably with salmon.
octopus: belongs to marine family of cephalopods; small octopus should be cooked very briefly over high heat or they will toughen. Well suited to stir-frying, pan-frying and braising. Large octopus are tough and require tenderising, which is traditionally done by beating them against rocks; in modern times, cement mixers are used. Once tenderised, fast cooking methods may be used; slow-cooking is also suited to large octopus.
oeuf: the French word for egg.
oeuf a la neige: sweet meringue puffs that are poached in milk or stock syrup and chilled. When served, these puffs are drizzled with caramel and served with creme Anglaise.
oil: cooking-oil spray vegetable oil in aerosol can. Garlic mixture of vegetable oil and garlic extracts. Olive mono-unsaturated; made from the pressing of tree-ripened olives. Extra virgin and virgin are the highest quality olive oils. Extra light or light describes the flavours, not fat levels. Peanut pressed from ground peanuts; commonly used for its high smoke point. Sesame made from roasted, crushed, white sesame seeds; a flavouring rather than a cooking medium. Vegetable oils sourced from plants rather than animal fats.
okra: also known as bamia, or lady fingers,; a green, ridged, oblong pod with a furry skin. Native to Africa, this vegetable is used in Indian, Middle-Eastern and southern US cooking. Often serves as a thickener in stews.
olives: this is the edible fruit of the olive tree. Found in both green (unripe) and black (ripe) forms, each must undergo a process to remove the bitterness found in them. This curing process is done with brine solutions, salt curing, and drying.
olive oil: grading of olive oils are determined by the methods of extraction and the acid content of the resulting oil. Virgin oils are those obtained from the first pressing of the olive without further refinement. The finest olive oil is extra virgin, with an acid content of 1%. Following this are superfine at 1.5%, fine at 3%, and virgin at 4%. Pure olive oils are those which have been extracted by heat. These are of 100% olive oil, but their flavour can result in a harsh, bitter aftertaste. Pomace olive oil is refined from the final pressings and under heat and pressure. The taste is inferior to other olive oils and should never be substituted for them. Olive oil becomes rancid very easily, more so when exposed to heat or light. Always store tightly sealed in a cool, dark place.
omelette pan: Japanese a square pan used for cooking tamago-yaki, an omelette which is used both as a sushi topping and in sushi rolls.
one-pot dishes: flameproof earthenware or metal dishes for preparing sukiyaki, shabu-shabu and tempura. As a substitute, use a wok or flameproof casserole dish.
onion: green also known as scallions or (incorrectly) shallots; immature onions picked before the bulbs have formed, having long, bright-green edible stalks. Red also known as Spanish, red Spanish or bermuda onion; sweet flavoured and purple-red in colour. Spring vegetables with small white bulbs, long green leaves and narrow green-leafed tops; slightly sweeter then green onions. Powder made from ground dehydrated onions. Brown and white are interchangeable. Their pungent flesh adds flavour to a vast range of dishes. Pickling also known as cocktail onions; are brown baby onions, larger than shallots. Used raw pickled in brine or cooked in stews and casseroles. Shallots also called French shallots, golden shallots or eschalots; brown-skinned, small, elongated member of the onion family.
Opakapaka: Pink snapper. A local Hawaiian favourite, especially around the holidays.
opaque: preventing light from travelling through, and therefore not transparent or translucent.
orange-flavoured liqueur: examples are Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Curaçao.
orange flower water: this perfumed distillation of bitter orange blossoms is mostly used as flavouring in baked goods and drinks.
ordering: a direction or instruction to buy, sell or supply food.
oregano: an aromatic, spicy Mediterranean herb sold as fresh sprigs or chopped dried leaves.
ortiz anchovies: fished from the seas off northern Spain, only the largest grade of anchovy are preserved whole in rock salt and cured for four months, resulting in plump meaty fillets. Trimmed and filleted by hand, eliminating the hairy texture of lesser grade anchovies.
orzo: tiny rice-shaped pasta; also known as risoni.
osso bucco: another name used by butchers for veal shin; usually cut into 3cm to 5cm thick slices.
ouzo: aniseed – flavoured liqueur.
oyster mushroom: a wild mushroom that grows in clusters on the side of trees. It is off-white to greyish in colour and has a soft texture. These mushrooms have a very subtle flavour. They are also being cultivated in the US, making them readily available in markets and moderately priced.
oysters: sizes vary from species to species, but all oysters are best bought freshly shucked to order. Oysters require no cooking, or only extremely brief exposure to heat, and can simply be stirred, off the heat, into soups and stews. They can also be steamed on the half shell, deep-fried or baked.
oyster sauce: made from oysters and their brine, cooked with salt and soy sauce, and thickened with starches.
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