David Recine

Cooking Vocabulary in English: Cooking Methods, Part 2

In my last post on cooking vocabulary in English, we looked at words for cooking methods that primarily involve heated air or hot surfaces. In this post, we’re going to look at English vocabulary for cooking methods that involve heated liquids.

With the exception of deep-frying and sauteing (mentioned in the previous post), most English words for cooking with liquids refer to the use of heated water.


The hot cooking oil for deep frying (as mentioned in Part 1) is heated so much that steam rises off of it. More than that, when oil is heated for deep frying purposes, it’s brought to a boil, so that it bubbles and steams. When food is cooked in boiling water instead of boiling oil, we say that the food is boiled. Common boiled foods include soup, hard-boiled eggs, and noodles.

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Spaghetti noodles starting to boil
Spaghetti noodles starting to boil

Photo by Jeff Nelson


Stewing is similar to boiling. However, when food is stewed, less water is used. Stews use just enough water to soften up the food that’s being cooked, without actually submerging the food in broth. (Broth is the food-flavored water in watery boiled soups.) Stews are usually a combination of meat and vegetables. One popular kind of stew is beef stew, which is usually made with cuts of beef, onions, carrots, potatoes, and spices.

Beef stew (with some bread and butter on the side)
Beef stew (with some bread and butter on the side)

Photo by jeffreyw


When food is steamed, it is suspended above boiling water. Steamed food is held is a steamer while it cooksA steamer is a metal bowl filled with holes. Hot steam from the boiling water in the bottom of a pot comes up through the steamer. When the stream hits the food, it heats it up and cooks it by steaming it.

Broccoli being steamed


A food is parboiled if it’s cooked in boiling water or steam for a very short period of time. Parboiled food tastes almost uncooked, and is just a little softer than raw food. Obviously, you can’t parboil meat– meat needs to be properly heated or it won’t be safe to eat. Instead, parboiling is used for certain vegetables, such as broccoli, pea pods or asparagus.


Like boiled foods, poached foods are also placed in heated liquid. However, when a food is poached, it’s placed in liquid that is hot, but is below boiling temperature. Foods are poached at temperatures of 71-82 Celsius or 160-180 Fahrenheit. Poached foods can also be cooked in liquids other than water. Certain recipes call for poaching of foods in wine or milk. The most commonly poached foods are eggs and meat.


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