Food Dictionary

Sabayon
Also known as zabaglione. A delicious dessert containing egg yolks, wine, cream, and sugar. Can be eaten by itself or served as a sauce for other desserts.
Sabayon Sauce
The French word for "Zabaglione," an ethereal dessert made by whisking egg yolks, Marsala wine, and sugar over simmering water to convert the eggs into a foamy custard.
Sable
A rich short cookie similar to shortbread.
Sablefish
This saltwater fish has a soft-textured flesh and a mild flavor. Its high fat content makes it a good fish for smoking. Called "Alaskan cod," "Black Cod," "Butterfish," and "Skil," although it is neither a cod nor a butterfish.
Saccharine
This sugar substitute contains 1/8 calorie per teaspoon and is said to be about 400 times sweeter than sugar. Some feel that saccharine has a bitter aftertaste. There is also controversy as to whether or not it is a carcinogen.
Saddle
The undivided loins of an animal, roasted as a unit.
Saddle blankets
Cowboy name for large pancakes.
Safflower Oil
A light, odorless, flavorless and colorless cold-pressed oil made from white seeds of the safflower plant. It contains more polyunsaturates than any other vegetable oil, and it has a high smoke point.
Safflower Seed
The seeds of the safflower plant, used to yield a low-cholesterol oil used in cooking oils and margarines.
Safflower Seed Meal
A meal made from the seed of the safflower plant. The seeds are rich in polyunsaturated fats. Also called "Mexican saffron" because the flower's stigmas can produce a lower quality substitute for the expensive "saffron."
Saffron
The most expensive spice in the world fortunately goes a long way; derived from the stamens of the saffron crocus, it can be used either whole or in powdered form, giving a distinctive flavour and yellow colour to Spanish paella and Italian risotto. It is also a classic ingredient in the French fish soup bouillabaisse.
Sage
A perennial broad-leaved herb that is widely cultivated for its leaves which have an aromatic, slightly bitter flavour and are used for flavouring fatty meats (such as pork), stuffings, marinades, certain cheeses and various drinks.
Sago
A starch made from the pith of the sago palm, used to make puddings.
Saguaro
Tall cactus found in Arizona; its fruit is made into jams and jellies.
Sake
Japanese rice wine. Used as an alcoholic beverage and in oriental cookery. The alcohol content is typically between 12 and 15 percent by volume.
Salamander
A salamander is a commercial grill that can be heated to very high temperatures. It is used by professional cooks for glazing, browning or caramelising savoury or sweet dishes.
Salami
A sausage made from a mixture of raw meat such as pork, beef or veal and flavoured with spices and herbs; salamis can be salted, smoked or air-dried and are found all over the world.
Salinometer
A device used to measure the amount of salt in a liquid, such as a brine.
Salisbury steak
A ground beef patty seasoned with onions and seasonings before it is broiled or fried and served with gravy. Named after Dr. J. H. Salisbury who recommended eating a lot of beef for a wide variety of ailments.
Salmagundi
A mixture of many foods cut into pieces - meat, chicken, seafood, cheese, vegetables, combined with or without a sauce, served cold.
Salmis
A fricassee or stew made from game birds.
Salmon
Perhaps the best-known of all fish, pictures of salmon from 12,000 B.C. have been found. Salmon migrate from the seas into freshwater to spawn. Over the years, some varieties have become landlocked in lakes.
Salsa
Spicy, thick, cold relish made from tomatoes, chillis and fruit, usually used as a dip.
Salsiccia
Fresh sausage -- Made of finely cut pork; highly spiced; unlinked; Italian origin.
Salsify
Salsify is a root vegetable. There is a black-skinned variety with white flesh sometimes called scorzonera, and a white salsify, sometimes called oyster plant. The delicate flavour is similar to asparagus. Best cooked simply - boiled or poached and served with butter. It is easier to peel after cooking.
Salt
Crystals used as a seasoning and preservative. One of the major taste groups. Available as sea salt or rock salt, which is then further refined for cooking salt and table salt.
Salt cod
Dried, salted cod which needs to be de-salted and rehydrated before use. Popular in French, Spanish and Portuguese cuisines
Salt hoss
Cowboy term for corned beef.
Salt Pork
The salt-cured layer of fat taken from the pig's belly and sides. Salt pork is sometimes confused with fatback, which is unsalted. It is similar to bacon except that it is much fattier an has not been smoked.
Salt Substitute
A substitute for salt that contains little or no sodium. Used by persons on a salt restricted diet.
Saltimbocca
A dish consisting of rolled pieces of veal or poultry, cooked with herbs, bacon and other flavourings. The word comes from the Italian for 'leap into the mouth'.
Saltpeter
Potassium Nitrate. A common kitchen chemical used in preservation of meat or preparing corned beef or pork. May be purchased at drugstores.
Sambuca
A colourless Italian liqueur flavoured with aniseed. It is drunk with one or two coffee beans floating in the glass, after it has been flamed. Sambuca is very strong but has a sweetish taste.
Samosa
A deep-fried Indian pastry stuffed with spiced vegetables or meat, usually triangular in shape.
Samphire
Also known as glasswort or pickle-plant, this fleshy-leaved green plant grows on seaside marshes. Its flavour is salty and it has a crisp, interesting texture. Use it fresh in salads or serve it with fish, simply boiled and dipped in melted butter and eaten like asparagus.
Sangria
Spanish drink of red wine with fruit, mineral water and spices added.
Sapodilla
A large evergreen tree of tropical America that bears an edible fruit. The sapodilla is the source of "chicle," the key ingredient in the manufacture of chewing gum.
Sapote
This tree, native to Mexico and Central America, is also called the "marmalade tree" or "sapota." It offers a sweet, edible fruit. "Sapote" is also used to refer to the "sapadilla tree."
Sardine
Sardines are baby pilchards - an oil-rich fish. Sardines are sold whole, fresh or frozen while pilchards are mainly processed and canned. Ideal fish for grilling and barbecuing when whole.
Sarsaparilla
This flavor was originally derived from the dried roots of tropical smilax vines. Today, products featuring sarsaparilla use artificial flavors.
Sashimi
Japanese dish of raw fish and shellfish served with dipping sauces and vegetables.
Sassafras
The leaves of the sassafras tree are used in making traditional gumbo.
Satay
Pieces of meat or fish skewered and grilled, then served with spiced sauce.
Satsuma Orange
A small Japanese orange that belongs to the Mandarin family. It contains relatively few seeds.
Saturated fat
Mainly derived from animals, although some vegetables are also highly saturated. A good clue that a fat is saturated is that it is solid at room temperature.
Sauce
A thickened and flavored liquid that is created to enhance the flavor of the food that it accompanies. In the days before refrigeration, sauces were used to disguise the taste of foods that were going bad.
Sauce piquante
A thick, sharp-flavored sauce made with roux and tomatoes, highly seasoned with herbs and peppers, simmered for hours.
Sauerkraut
German for "sour cabbage." Made by combining cabbage, salt, and occasionally other spices and permitting the mixture to ferment. Though thought of as a German invention, this pickled food was eaten in China over 2,000 years ago.
Sausage
Basically, sausage is ground meat with fat, salt, seasonings, preservatives, and sometimes fillers. They may be smoked, fresh, dry or semi-dry, uncooked, partially cooked, or fully cooked. There are thousands of variations of sausage.
Sausage casings
Made from beef or pork products, available by special order from good meat markets or by mail order.
Saute
to cook quickly over high heat in an open frying pan with a small amount of butter, oil or cooking spray, turning food frequently
Sauterne
A sweet wine from the Sauternes region of France. It is made from Sauvignon Blanc or Semillon grapes that have been infected with a special mold that causes them to shrivel and leave a sugary fruit with highly concentrated flavors.
Sauvignon Blanc
An excellent white-wine grape that rivals Chardonnay and the Reisling. This grape imparts a grassy, herbaceous flavor to the wines produced from them.
Savarin
A ring-shaped cake made of a rich yeast dough, soaked with a rum syrup, and filled with pastry or whipped cream.
Savory
A strongly flavored herb of the mint family. There are two varieties: winter and summer. The summer savory is slightly milder, but both should be used carefully. Savory has a flavor reminiscent of a cross between thyme and mint.
Savoy Cabbage
A loose, full headed, and mellow-flavored cabbage that is considered by many to be the finest cabbage for cooking.
Scald
To heat milk to just below the boiling point.
Scallion
Also called "spring onions," these are very young ordinary onions (such as "shallots") picked when beds of onions need to be thinned.
Scallop
Shellfish with a delicate taste available in a range of sizes. Scallops can be steamed, fried or grilled but should be cooked gently. The flesh is firm and white, the coral (or roe) is orange or pale red in colour.
Scallop Squash
A flat, whitish variety of squash that features a scalloped edge. Also known as "cymling" and "pattypan squash."
Scampi
The Italian name for the tail portion of any of several varieties of miniature lobsters. In the U.S., the term refers to large shrimp that are split and brushed in a garlic oil or butter, then broiled. "Scampo" is the singular form.
Scone
A small, rounded cake that can be sweet, often served with clotted cream and jam, or savoury, used as an accompaniment to other meals.
Score
To make lengthwise gashes on the surface of food.
Scorzonera
Also called "black salsify," this is a black-skinned variety of salsify. Most varieties of this vegetable are grayish or pale golden in color.
Scotch
This distinctive liquor, made only in Scotland, uses barley for flavoring instead of corn (which is used in American whiskeys). The sprouted malted barley is dried over peat fires to impart a characteristic smoky flavor to the scotch.
Scotch bonnet
Very hot, small chilli, similar to the habanero. After preparing chillis, it is very important to avoid contact with the eyes or any sensitive skin - even washing the hands may not be enough to remove all the capsaicin, the volatile oil in the fruit that gives it its hot taste.
Scrag
Cut of lamb from the neck, used in casseroles and stews.
Scrapple
Cooked meat specialty -- Ground cooked pork combined with cornmeal; other flours may be used in small amounts; available in loaf, brick or rolls, canned.
Screwdriver
An alcoholic beverage made with orange juice and vodka. It is said to have been named by American oil-rig workers in the Middle East who opened and stirred cans of this beverage with their screwdrivers.
Scrod
Scrod is the name for young cod (and haddock) that weight less that 2.5 pounds. It is a popular fish from the Pacific and the North Atlantic with a lean, firm, white flesh. "Haddock," "hake," and "pollock" are close relatives of the cod.
Scungille
A shellfish.
Scup
Also know as "porgie" or "sea bream." These fish are generally lean, and coarse-grained. Scup is often grilled, poached, and pan-fried.
Sea bass
A term used to describe a number of lean to moderately fat marine fish, most of which aren't actually members of the bass family. "Striped bass" and "Black Sea bass" are true bass. The "white sea bass" is a member of the drum family.
Sea Bream
White fish with a number of varieties available, sold whole or as fillets. Coarse, succulent flesh ideal for grilling, baking and frying.
Sea Devil
This large low-fat, firm-textured salt-water fish has a mild, sweet flavor that compares with lobster. Also called "angler fish" "monkfish," and "goosefish."
Sea Perch
This important commercial fish is a member of the rockfish group. Also known as "ocean perch," although it is not a true perch.
Sea plums
Canned oysters.
Sea Salt
Salt produced by evaporating sea water. Salt produced in this manner is more expensive than salt that has been mined.
Sea Trout
An anadromous (spawns in fresh water) brown trout that spends part to its life cycle in the sea. Sea trout have meat that is pink to red in color and is very comparable to salmon. May be prepared any way appropriate for salmon.
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.
Sea vegetables
A rich source of iodine and an important food source in many oriental cultures. Sea vegetables such as dulse, hijiki, and arame can be soaked briefly in water, squeezed dry, and cut up for salad. Laver (nori) is what you use to make sushi.
Seafood Sauce
A combination of catsup or chili sauce with prepared horseradish, lemon juice, and hot red pepper seasoning. Used with seafood and as a condiment for hors d'oeuvres.
Sear
To cook at very high heat for a short period of time in order to brown meat and seal the surface ensuring that the juices are trapped within.
Season
To add flavor to foods in the form of salt, pepper, herbs, spices, vinegar, etc. so that their taste is improved.
Seasoned flour
Flour flavored with salt and pepper and sometimes other seasonings.
Seasoning
Something, such as a spice or herb, used to flavor food. Also called seasoner. Ingredients added to food to intensify or improve its flavor. Some of the most commonly used seasonings include herbs (such as oregano, rosemary and basil), spices (like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice), condiments (such as Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and mustard), a variety of vinegars and-the most common of all-salt and pepper.
Seaweed
Any of a multitude of sea plants from the algae family. Used in soups, as vegetables, in teas, in shushi, and as a seasoning. Seaweed is a rich source of iodine. A seaweed called "carrageen," is used in McDonald's McLean hamburger.
Seaweed sheets, dried
Also known as nori and laver. Find in Oriental markets and larger supermarkets.
Self-Rising Flour
A mixture of all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt.
Seltzer
A flavorless, naturally effervescent water that takes its name from the town of Nieder Selters in Germany. Soda water is man-made by injecting carbon dioxide into water.
Semifirm cheese
Cooked and pressed, but not so long-aged, not crumbly (edam, jarlsberg).
Semifreddo
Meaning "half cold", this is gelato with whipped cream folded into it.
Semisoft cheese
Either cooked or uncooked, soft, but sliceable (gouda, tilsit, monterey jack).
Semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
often utilized in cake and cookie recipes. Both terms are often used interchangeably, though bittersweet generally has more chocolate liquor (the paste formed from roasted, ground cocoa beans). Semisweet chocolate contains at least 35% chocolate liquor, while some fine bittersweets contain 50% or more. Either chocolate possess a deep, smooth, intense flavor that comes from the blend of cocoa beans used rather than added dairy products. Sugar, vanilla, and cocoa butter must be added to the liquor to enhance the chocolate flavor.
Semolina
A very coarse flour used to make pizza and bread. Also refers to rounded parts of wheat used to make a pudding of the same name.
Serrano chiles
Serrano means from the mountains; medium green chile, becoming brilliant red when ripe; extremely hot; usually shorter and thinner than the jalapeno; a basic ingredient for salsas, sauces, marinades and escabeches; jalapenos may be substituted.
Sesame oil
This oil is high in polyunsaturated fast (4th behind safflower, soybean, and corn). There are two basic forms: light and dark. The light form is lighter in color and flavor and has a hint of nuttiness. The dark from is much stronger.
Sesame Seed
A tiny, flat seed with a nutty, slightly sweet flavor used in breads, cakes, confections, cookies, pastries, and salads. This seed was used at least as far back as 3,000 B.C. in Assyria.
Sesame seeds, toasted
Often used as garnish in many cuisines. To make - Toast raw sesame seeds in a frying pan over medium heat until golden brown. Shake and stir the seeds over the burner to get even coloring. Ready for use.
Sesbania Flower
The edible flower of a tree native to the South Pacific and pasts of Asia. Especially popular as a food in the Philippines. Also called "Katuray."
Seviche
A popular dish in Latin-American cookery, a dish of raw fish, scallops, or shrimp marinated in citrus juices until the flesh becomes "cooked". Onions, peppers, and chiles are then added to finish the dish.
Shad
Small, delicate saltwater fish related to the alewife, herring, and sardine. They are larger than herrings and spawn in fresh water. Some species of shad have been landlocked and live in freshwater lakes.
Shallot
The mild-flavored cousin to the onion, chive, leek, and garlic. The bulb is edible and is used like onions or garlic. The green tops are harvested and marketed as "scallions."
Shark
A flavorful, low-fat fish that includes varieties such as Leopard, Mako, Spiny Dogfish, Soupfin and Thresher. Shark meat tends to have an ammonia-like smell that can be eliminated by soaking the flesh in milk or acidulated water.
Shaslik
Skewered, broiled marinated lamb.
Sheanut Oil
Oil from the seed of the shea tree, an African tree from the sapodilla family. "Shea butter" (also called "galam butter") is the solid green, yellow, or white fat derived from the seeds of the shea tree.
Sheepshead
A saltwater fish belonging to the wrasse family. Also called "California Sheephead," "Fathead," and "Redhead." Its meat is white, tender, and lean.
Shell steak
The same as Delmonico.
Shellfish
A broad term for all aquatic animals that have a shell of some kind. Shellfish are separated into two basic categories Crustaceans and mollusks. Crustaceans include Crabs, Crayfish, Lobster and Shrimp. Mollusks are divided into three groups Mopods (also called univalves) such as the Abalone and Snail, Bivalves like the calm and OYSTER; and CEPHALOPODS such as the octopus and squid).
Sherbet
A frozen mixture containing fruit juices, water or milk, to which various thickeners are added before freezing, such as egg whites or gelatin.
Sherry
This famous Spanish fortified wine is also made in the U.S. Sherries range in color, flavor, and sweetness. They are drunk as an apertif (appetizer) or after dinner. Cry sherries are usually served cold; sweet sherries unchilled.
Sherry vinegar
This recent addition to American markets is a good wine vinegar that is better than inexpensive balsamic vinegar. May be used in salads, and also as a marinade for grilled and broiled dishes.
Shiitake
The best domesticated mushroom, with a rich, distinctive, smoky flavor. Do not eat the stem, but save it for stocks. Can be found in most Oriental markets dried. Also found fresh or dried in some larger supermarkets. An expensive mushroom that originated in Japan, but is now grown in the U.S. Sometimes called "golden oak," this tasty, dark brown mushroom has a meaty flesh and a full-bodied flavor.
Shimeji Mushroom
This fan-shaped mushroom often grows on rotting tree trunks. This fungus is fairly robust and slightly peppery when raw, but is becomes much milder when cooked. Also called "oyster mushroom."
Shin
Cut of beef from the foreleg, used for casseroles and stews.
Shirred eggs
Eggs broken into shallow ramekins containing cream or crumbs, then baked or broiled until set.
Shish kebab
Cubes of meat cooked on a skewer, often with vegetables.
Short loin
The tenderloin.
Short ribs
The cut off ends of the prime rib, which should be cooked in liquid until quite tender.
Short'nin' bread
Sweet, rich quick bread.
Short-broiling
The same as parboiling or poaching.
Short-grain rice
The most common rice in Japanese cooking. It has a short oval shape compared to long-grain rice. Also known as pearl rice.
Shortbread
A sweet biscuit, fairly dense and rich in butter. Eaten on its own or used as a base for tarts.
Shortcrust pastry
Probably the most useful and versatile pastry, shortcrust is a crumbly pastry that is ideal for pies and pasties.
Shortening
Any fat, liquid, or solid used in pastry, dough, or batter for making the resulting product flakier, richer, or more tender. In common use are hydrogenated shortenings like butter, lard, margarine, and the edible oils.
Shoyu
A dark, salty sauce made from fermenting boiled soybeans and roasted wheat or barley. Extremely popular in the Orient; used to flavor fish, meat, marinades, sauces, soups, and vegetables. Better known in U.S. as "soy sauce."
Shred
To cut or tear food into long, thin strips
Shrimp
American's most valuable and popular shellfish. This ten-legged crustacean got its name from English word "shrimpe," which means "puny person."
Shrimp powder, dried
Tiny shrimp dried and ground into a fine powder. Found in Oriental markets.
Shrinkage
The weight lost by a meat or poultry product during cooking, cooling, drying and storing.
Shuck
To open an oyster shell with a small, thick-bladed knife.
Sicama
Large bulbous root vegetable with a thin brown skin and a white crunchy flesh with a texture similar to water chestnut. It has a sweet, nutty flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked. Also called "Jicama."
Sichuan pepper
Sichuan or anise pepper is actually not pepper but the very hot and peppery dried red berries of a type of ash tree. The berries are roasted and ground to make a very pungent and aromatic seasoning used in Chinese cuisine. Sichuan pepper is also one of the spices of Chinese five-spice powder.
Side Dishes
Any dish served to accompany and balance a main dish, frequently a vegetable and starch.
Sieve
A fine, mesh strainer.
Sift
To pass dry ingredients, usually flour and baking powder, salt, etc., through a fine-meshed strainer or sifter to blend ingredients thoroughly and remove larger pieces thereby lightening the texture of the mixture.
Silver foil (Vark)
Edible silver in ultra-thin sheets. Used for fancy garnishing in Indian cooking.
Silver Hake
A small gray and white saltwater fish that is also called the "whiting." This low-fat fish, which is related to both the "cod" and the "hake," has a tender white fine-textured flesh and a flaky, delicate flavor.
Silver Salmon
This high-fat variety of salmon provides a firm-textured, pink to orange-red flesh. Also called the "coho salmon."
Silverside
Cut of beef from the rear of the animal, used for boiling, stews, casseroles and mince.
Sim Sim
A tiny, flat seed with a nutty, slightly sweet flavor used in breads, cakes, confections, cookies, pastries, and salads. This seed was used at least as far back as 3,000 B.C. in Assyria. Better known in U.S. markets as "sesame seed."
Simmer
To cook in liquid just below the boiling point..
Simnel cake
Now an Easter cake, this was originally given by servant girls to their mothers when they went home on Mothering Sunday. A fairly rich fruit cake, it is covered with almond paste or marzipan, stamped with the figure of Christ and decorated with 11 marzipan balls to represent the 11 apostles (excluding Judas).
Singapore Sling
A cocktail of gin, cherry brandy, and lemon juice. This mixture is shaken in ice, strained into a tall glass, and topped off with soda water. Said to have originated in Singapore's Raffles Hotel.
Sippets
Small pieces of toast, soaked in milk or broth for the sick; bits of biscuit or toast used as a garnish.
Sirloin
Premium cut of beef from the back, sold as roasting joints and fillet steaks.

Slake

To mix a thickening agent with liquid, eg cornflour, arrowroot.

Sirloin steak
A juicy, flavorful cut of beef from the portion of the animal between the rump and the tenderloin.
Skate
This kite-shaped fish features edible fins. The flesh is firm, white, and sweet, similar to the texture and taste of scallop.
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. Never buy skate with the inedible skin on as it is very difficult to remove.
Skewers
Long thin metal pins on which food is impaled for grilling or broiling.
Skil
This saltwater fish has a soft-textured flesh and a mild flavor. Its high fat content makes it a good fish for smoking. Also "black cod" and "sablefish," although it is not a cod.
Skim
To remove cream from the surface of milk, fat from the tops of gravies and sauces or frothy scum from broths or jam and jellies during cooking.
Skipjack Tuna
Also called the "oceanic bonito," "watermelon," and "Arctic bonito," this small tuna (6 to 8 pounds) has a light-colored meat similar to yellowfin. The Japanese call this fish "katsuo" and the Hawaiians call it "aku."
Skirt steak
The diaphragm muscle, a little know but delicious cut of beef, very tender and juicy if broiled quickly and served rare.
Skunk Cabbage
A perennial herb of the arum family. Its thick leaf stalk is used in salads after it has been boiled in two or more changes of water. Also known as "swamp cabbage."
Skunk egg
Cowboy term for an onion.
Slap bread
Hand-shaped bread, slapped thin, such as tortillas and fry bread.
Sliced Beef
Cooked meat specialty -- Made from boneless beef; chopped, cooked, smoked and sliced; moist, not dehydrated; more perishable than dried beef.
Sliver
To cut foods into thin strips.
Sloe Gin
A liqueur made by steeping gin with crushed sloes. "Sloes" are wild European plums with an extremely tart flesh.
Smelt
A rich and oily mild-flavored fish. Popular varieties of smelt include "Eulachon" and "Whitebait." The eulachon is called the "candlefish" because Indians sometimes run a wick through their high-fat flesh and use them for candles.
Smitane
Wine sauce with sour cream and onions added.
Smoked Country Style Pork Sausage
Uncooked, smoked sausage -- Fresh pork sausage, mildly cured and smoked; cook thoroughly before use.
Smokies
Cooked, smoked sausage -- Coarsely ground beef and pork; seasoned with black pepper; stuffed and linked like frankfurters.
Smoking
Method of curing foods, such as bacon or fish, by exposing it to wood smoke for a considerable period of time.
Smoothie
A non-alcoholic cold drink made up of a mixture of the juices and pulp of fruit or vegetables blitzed into a smooth drink.
Smorgasbord
An assortment of hot and cold dishes served in Sweden as hors d'oeuvres or a full buffet meal. It should not just simply be a few salmon canapes, cold meats and cheese but a vast buffet from which guests serve themselves.
Smother
Cook slowly in covered pot or skillet with a little liquid added to sauteed mixture.
Snacks
Any light dish to each between meals for something to "tide you over".
Snail
Popular since prehistoric times, the snail was greatly favored by ancient Romans who set aside special vineyards where snails could feed and fatten.
Snap Bean
A small green bean that is eaten in its long green pod. The snap bean used to have a fibrous "string" down the center of the pod; this characteristic has been bred out of the species. Also called "green bean" and "string bean."
Snapper
There are a few hundred species of this lean, firm-textured saltwater fish, 15 or so which are available in the U.S. The most popular snapper is the "red snapper." Some species of rockfish and tilefish are called snappers, but are not.
Snow peas
Edible-pod peas with soft, green pods and tiny peas.
Soba
A Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour. The buckwheat gives soba a dark brownish gray color.
Soba noodle
Buckwheat noodles, brown, flat, resembling spaghetti, used in Japanese cooking. Usually served in broth.
Sockeye Salmon
Prized for canning, the sockeye salmon has a firm, red flesh. Also known as the "redeye salmon."
Soda bread
Irish bread; a baking powder bread, or one made with sour milk and baking soda.
Sodium Erythorbate
A food grade cure accelerator and color stabilization in cured meats. An antioxidant whose chemical structure resembles Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid. It is added to hot dogs, cured meats and a few other foods to reserve their flavor and color when exposed to air. It is used in the food processing industry to preserve the color of cured meats and related products. It actually is a chemical salt of Erythorbic Acid
Sofrito
Famous seasoning mix which includes cured ham, lard or canola oil, oregano, onion, green pepper, sweet chile peppers, fresh coriander leaves and garlic.
Soft Drink
Any drink that is non-alcoholic. Although carbonation is not required, most people think of soft drinks as being effervescent.
Soft grub
Hotel or diner food.
Soft-ripened (bloomy rind) cheese
The surface is exposed to molds, ripening the cheese from the outside in, to form thin, velvety rinds (brie, camembert).
Softshell Crab
The "soft-shell crab" is actually the blue crab caught just after molting (discarding its shell). This crab is found along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. It is sold in both its soft and hard-shell stages.
Sole
A popular flatfish with a delicate flesh with a firm, fine texture. The best-known variety is "Dover sole" (also called "channel sole)." Much of what is sold as "sole" in the U.S. is actually a variety of flounder, which isn't a true sole.
Somen Noodles
The most delicate of all the Japanese noodles, somen are often distinguished by their elegant packaging. Made from a wheat-flour dough with a touch of oil added, like soba noodles they are often served cool with a dipping sauce, but don't forget they also make a light and delicate garnish for hot soups. To cook somen noodles just boil for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.
Sopa seca
Dry soup with very little liquid left after cooking.
Sopes
Little round antojitos of tortilla dough.
Sorbet
A semi-frozen water ice, usually made with fruit or a liqueur, and eaten as a palate cleanser between courses, or as a dessert.
Sorghum
A genus of cereal grasses with a large number of species, cultivated throughout the world for food, forage, and syrup. It is the world's third largest food grain.
Sorghum Syrup
The stalks of the cereal grass sorghum can be boiled down to produce a thick syrup which can be used as a table syrup and to sweeten baked goods. Also called "sorghum molasses."
Sorrel
Sorrel comes in several varieties, including wild sorrel and French sorrel. Its name derives from the French for sour, in reference to the plant’s characteristic acidity. Although often used in salads, sorrel should not be eaten in large quantities as it contains a high amount of oxalic acid.
Souffle
A light, airy mixture that is normally made by taking an egg yolk-based sauce that has been lightened by adding stiffly beaten egg whites. Souffles may be sweet or savory and served cold or hot.
Sour cream
Also known as "dairy sour cream." This commercial product is made from homogenized pasteurized sweet cream to which a dairy culture has been added for souring.
Sour oranges
Seville oranges; ornamental oranges.
Sourdough
Yeasty fermented bread; the natural starter is kept in a jar or crock.
Soursop
The large, dark-green, slightly acidic and pulpy flesh of the fruit of a small West Indies tree called the soursop. Also called "guanabana."
Souse
to pickle food in brine or vinegar; such as soused herrings.
Souse Loaf
Well-cooked pig's head and feet that are chopped into small pieces, marinated in lime juice, chili pepper and salt, then pressed into a loaf.
Souse of Sulz
Cooked meat specialty -- Similar to head cheese except for sweet-sour flavor added by vinegar pickling liquid; dill pickles, sweet red peppers and bay leaves sometimes added.
Soy bean
The world's most important bean is the low carbohydrate, high-protein soybean. This inexpensive, yet nutritious legume is used to make soybean oil, soy flour, soy sauce, miso, tamari, and tofu. Can also be used like any other bean. Soybean are round, under one-half inch in diameter, and usually yellowish, although the may be other colors.
Soy Flour
A very high-protein, low carbohydrate flour made from soybeans. Soy flour has approximately twice the protein of wheat flour.
Soy milk
This milky, iron-rich liquid is the product of pressing cooked and ground soybeans. Soy milk is higher in protein than cow's milk. It is cholesterol-free and low in calcium, fat, and sodium.
Soy Protein
Used as a binder to reduce shrinkage, to retain water and natural juices, to bind the fat and meat for a smoother, more favorable consistency. Use 3% for fresh products and 5% for smoked products. Pound for pound, this product contains 7 times more protein than meat
Soy Sauce
A condiment made from fermented soya beans and salt which forms a basic ingredient in both Japanese and Chinese cooking.
Soybean Curd Cake
A low-calorie, high-protein, cholesterol-free food made from curdled soy milk. It is creamy white with a firmness that varies from soft to firm. Should be kept refrigerated. The water it is packed in should be changed daily.
Soybean Oil
An inexpensive oil that is nutritious and has a high smoke point. Soybean oil is approximately 58% polyunsaturated fat, 23% monounsaturated, and 15% saturated fat. Used extensively in making margarine and shortening.
Spaetzle
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 spaetzle press) and poached until cooked through. The noodle is then fried in butter or oil and served as a side dish to meat dishes. Spaetzle may also be flavored with cheese, mushrooms, and herbs.
Spaghetti
Like its cousin "macaroni," spaghetti is made from semolina and water. Sometimes eggs are added. The name comes from the italian word for "strings."
Spaghetti squash
This creamy-yellow watermelon-shaped squash is so named because its flesh, when cooked, separates into yellow-gold spaghetti-like strands. Avoid greenish squash (indicating immaturity).
Spaghettini
A thin form of the spaghetti pasta. It is not quite as thin as vermicelli, however. Other spaghettis include "fettuccine" and "linguine," which are flat rather than round.
Spanish onions
Like Bermuda onions, these are large, relatively mild, easy to handle, and keep well for weeks. Good for baking.
Spare ribs
The long cut of meat from the lower breast bone of the hog. Spareribs are best cooked slowly, so that their fat can be rendered and they can become tender.
Spatchcocking
A technique whereby poultry shears or a sharp knife is used to split chicken along backbone, leaving breastbone intact. Spatchcocked chicken is generally served with a vinaigrette sauce
Speck
Cured and smoked pork flank.
Spelt
Native to southern Europe, where it's been used for thousands of years, spelt is an ancient cereal grain that has a mellow nutty flavour. The easily digestible spelt has a slightly higher protein content than wheat and can be tolerated by those with wheat allergies. Spelt flour, available in health-food stores, can be substituted for wheat flour in baked goods.
Spiedini
An Italian word for skewers of meat or fish grilled over a flame or under a broiler. Known as Spiedies in the Eastern United States.
Spiedino
Fried cheese with anchovy sauce.
Spinach
An annual potherb from southwestern Asia grown for its leafy green leaves. Spinach can be used raw, or cooked by boiling or sauteing. Its leaves contains small amounts of oxalic acid which gives spinach a slightly bitter flavor.
Spit
Revolving skewer or metal rod on which meat, poultry or game is roasted over a fire or under a grill. Process creates high heat and forces fat to spit out of meats.
Split peas
A variety of yellow or green field pea that is grown specifically for drying. These peas are often dried and split along a natural seam, whereupon they are called "split peas" and are used in soups and other dishes.
Sponge
The portion of dough in bread-making containing all or part of the yeast, to which are added the remaining ingredients.
Sponge Gourd
The fruit of any of several tropical vines of the gourd family. The dried insides of these gourds can be used as a sponge. Also called the "Luffah."
Spoon bread
A kind of baked cornmeal pudding.
Spot
A small fish (approximately 1.5 pounds) belonging to the drum family. In 1925, these fish appeared in New York harbor in such vast numbers that they clogged the condenser pumps of the electric company and caused a blackout.
Spotted pup
Chuckwagon name for raisin pudding; without the raisins, it was just called "pup."
Spreads
Type of thick appetizer made to be spread on bread or crackers
Spring roll
Thin sheets of 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 dough, while the Vietnamese and Thai versions use a rice paper wrapper.
Springform mold
Baking tin with hinged sides, held together by a metal clamp or pin, which is opened to release the cake or pie which was cooked inside.
Sprue asparagus
The thinnings or first pickings of the asparagus bed which have a good flavour - and should be cheaper than asparagus proper.
Spumoni
Ice cream made with fruit and nuts.
Squab
A young domesticated pigeon that has never flown and is therefore very tender. Squabs are normally under a pound and about 4 weeks old. May be prepared in any manner suitable for chicken.
Squab chicken
The poussins of France, these are mere babies weighing about a pound and sufficient for one person. They are unusually tender and delicate and are best when roasted whole or split and broiled.
Squash blossoms
Blossoms of winter squashes such as zucchini, yellow squash and pumpkin; commonly used in Southwestern cooking; best when used the day they are picked or bought; may be cooked briefly for use in soups or sauces, or stuffed and fried.
Squash Seeds
The edible seeds of the pumpkin. These seeds are hulled to reveal a green seed with a delicate nutty flavor. These seeds are often roasted and salted. Also called "pepitas," these seeds are popular in Mexican cookery.
Squaw bread
Indian bread deep-fried in 6-inch circles; fry bread; popovers.
Squawberries
Red-orange berries from thorny desert bushes.
Squid
A sea mollusc related to the cuttlefish, also known as calamari. Squid can be grilled or fried and larger squid can be added to stews or cooked in their own ink.
Squirrel
An abundant, largely arboreal rodent. Red and gray squirrels are commonly eaten in the U.S. The gray squirrel is fatter and has a flavor considered by many as superior to the red squirrel. Squirrels do not have a strong "gamey" taste.
Squirrel can
Cowboy term for large can used for after-meal scraps.
Sriracha
A hot sauce made from sun-ripened chiles which are ground into a smooth paste along with garlic. It is excellent in soups, sauces, pastas, pizzas, hot dogs, hamburgers, chow mein or on almost anything else to give it a delicious, spicy taste.
Star anise
The fruit of a shrub native to the Far East, star anise is shaped like an eight-pointed star and contains seeds with an aniseed flavour. It is used widely in Chinese cooking.
Star Apple
The purple, white, green, yellow, or rose-colored fruit of a West Indian tree. When cut open, the seeds are disposed into the shape of a star. Also called "caimit."
Starch
Carbohydrate obtained from cereals and potatoes or other tubers.
Starfruit
Also known as carambola, this yellow fruit becomes a five-pointed star when sliced widthways. Star fruits have a slightly sweet and sour taste, so are often used more for decoration in fruit salads.
Steak Diane
A very thin steak.
Steak tartare
Very lean beef, minced and served raw.
Steam
to cook food in the steam created by boiling water.
Steep
To soak in liquid until saturated with a soluble ingredient; soak to remove an ingredient, such as to remove salt from smoked ham or salted cod.
Sterilize
To destroy germs by exposing food to heat at specific temperatures.
Stew
To cook food slowly and for a long period of time using a small amount of liquid in a covered pan or pot
Stewing chicken
Also called mature, old chickens, or hens, these should be poached or simmered.
Stir
To mix with a circular movement, using a spoon or fork or other utensil.
Stir-fry
Any dish that has been prepared by stir-frying. That is, the food is chopped into small pieces and cooked very quickly over high heat in a large pan for a short period of time while briskly stirring the food.
Stock
A flavoured liquid base for making a sauce, stew or braised dish. Made by simmering beef, chicken or fish with vegetables, aromatic ingredients and water. Vegetable stock simply misses out the meat.
Stone fruits
Stone fruits are simply fruits with a stone, such as peach or plum.
Stone Ground Flour
Wheat that is ground between two slowly moving stones. This process creates less heat than the usual high speed steel grinding. Some cooks believe the stone grinding method produces a better product.
Strain
To remove solid particles from a mixture or liquid by pouring through a colander or sieve.
Strasbourgeoise
Served with goose livers and truffles.
Straw mushrooms, canned
Small button-like mushrooms indigenous to Asia. Fresh ones are so delicate that they aren't usually shipped.
Strawberry
This hardy member of the rose family is a red, juicy sweet-tart berry. The French "European Alpine" strawberries are tiny, very sweet berries and are considered the finest. Eaten out-of-hand, used in wines, liqueurs, and in desserts.
Streaker
Usually refers to bean purees or other colorful pastes made from nondairy products and used to decorate plates and finished dishes; may also refer to brightly colored cremas.
Streusel
A delicious topping of sugar, butter, flour, and other spices that adds flavor and crunch to crumb cakes, coffee cakes and some muffins.
String Bean
A small bean that is eaten in its long green pod. Named after the fibrous "string" that used to grow down the center of the pod; this characteristic has since been bred out of the species. Also called "green beans" and "snap beans."
Striped bass
This true bass is found along the Atlantic coast. It features six to eight horizontal stripes and provides a moderately fat, firm flesh with a mild, sweet flavor.
Stroganoff
A dish of thinly sliced beef (usually tenderloin or top loin), onions, and mushrooms sautéed in a combination of butter and sour-cream sauce. Often served with a rice pilaf. Invented by Count Paul Stroganoff in the 19th century.
Strudel
Austrian sweet made from very thin layers of pastry wrapped round fruit, most famously apple. A savoury version can also be made.
Stuffing
Thick paste made from dry ingredients like herbs, breadcrumbs and nuts, bound together with egg. Can be used to stuff the inside of roast meats or baked separately and served as an accompaniment.
Sturgeon
A name for various migratory species of fish know for its rich, high-fat flavor, firm texture, and excellent roe. Their average weight is 60 pounds, but one freshwater "Beluga" sturgeon was 26 feet long and weighed 3,221 pounds.
Sub gum
A stew of Chinese vegetables.
Succotash
A dish composed of a combination of lima beans and corn.
Suchet
With the flavoring of carrot.
Sucker
A name popularly applied to various types of freshwater fish closely related to carp. Suckers live and feed near the bottoms of streams. They may be cooked in any way appropriate for other fish.
Suckeyes
Cowboy term for pancakes.
Suet
The hard fat around the kidneys and loins of beef, mutton or pork.
Sugar alcohols
Sugar alcohols like mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol are sweeteners that occur naturally in fruits, and are often added to certain foods. They're called "alcohols" because of their chemical structure, not because they contain the kind of alcohol in drinks like beer, wine and spirits. Because sugar alcohols do not promote tooth decay, they are often used in "sugarless" gum. They are also used to add texture to some foods. Some studies suggest that because sugar alcohols take longer to break down than regular sugar, they may cause a less rapid spike in blood sugar than sugar-sweetened products. But remember that they are not calorie-free, are not likely to help with weight control and, when consumed in excessive amounts, can lead to intestinal gas, cramping or diarrhea.
Sugar Beet
A type of beet with a very high sugar content that is cultivated primarily for making sugar. Most varieties of sugar beet are white inside and out and can be cooked and eaten as a vegetable, just like ordinary garden beets.
Sugar Cane
A tall grass of tropical and warm regions with tough, jointed stalks that can be processed to produce sugar.
Sugar Cure
A mixture of salt and sugar. The salt is the essential ingredient. The sugar counteracts the salt taste and gives the meat a better flavor and good color.
Sugar snaps
Also called snap peas, these flavorful pea-filled pods are newly developed (introduced in 1979). Sugar snaps are crisp, with crunchy pods and sweet peas.
Sugar Substitute
Also called "non-nutritive sweeteners," sugar substitutes are used by persons with reasons for avoiding or restricting their intake of sugar. "Saccharin" and "aspartame" are two common sugar substitutes.
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.
Sukiyaki
Japanese dish of meat, vegetables and seasonings, usually cooked at the table.
Sultanas
A type of large raisins, originally Turkish. Seedless white raisins.
Sumac
Spice that comes from the grated skin of a dark berry that possesses a a slightly acidic, astringent flavor.
Summer squash
The fruit of various members of the gourd family. Summer squash has a thin edible skin, soft seeds, high water content, and a mild flavor.
Sun-dried tomatoes
When a tomato is dried in the sun (or more likely the oven) the end result is a shriveled, intensely flavored tomato. They are usually packed in olive oil or packaged dried (when dried soak them in hot water to reconstitute).
Sunchokes
Also called Jerusalem artichokes, sunchokes are the knobby roots of a perennial sunflower. They resemble ginger in appearance and have a subtle, delicious flavor. Their high sugar content enables them to brown well when fried or roasted.
Sundae
Ice cream topped with syrup, nuts, and whipped cream. In the 19th century, moralists decried the drinking of carbonated beverages--including ice cream sodas--on Sundays. Vendors removed the soda, added toppings, and changed the spelling.
Sunfish
Any of a number of North American freshwater fish closely related to the perch. Known for their bright, sunny colors and interesting shapes, popular varieties include "Bluegill," "Crappie," and "Calico Bass," commonly called "Sunnies."
Sunflower
These bright yellow flowers turn and track the sun throughout the day. The seeds are either roasted or dried, salted or unsalted. The seeds (excluding the shell) are 47% oil and 24% protein by weight.
Sunflower Oil
The pale yellow mild-flavored oil derived from sunflower seeds. This oil is high in polyunsaturated fat and low in saturated fat. Used in cooking and in salad dressings. Not well suited for frying because of its low smoke point.
Sunflower seeds
Seeds of the sunflower, these can be roasted or dried in or out of their shells. They can be added to many sweet and savory dishes, including salads, baked goods, and granola.
Sunsweet Lighter Bake
a 100% fat- and cholesterol-free baking ingredient that replaces butter, margarine, oil or shortening in scratch recipes and packaged mixes. Made from a blend of dried plums and apples, this new fat "imposter" creates moist, chewy baked goods that are lower in fat. Lighter Bake is located in the cooking oil or baking ingredients section of supermarkets nationwide.
Superfine sugar
Also called caster sugar, this finely granulated sugar is good in meringues and cold drinks; it dissolves quickly and easily. It can be made by blenderizing granulated sugar in the blender until it is powdery.
Supreme
A rich heavy cream sauce.
Surimi
Imitation crab meat processed from fish.
Surinam Cherry
The yellow to deep red, cherry-like fruit of a Brazilian tree of the myrtle family. These fruit, which are now grown in the U.S., are slightly acid and are eaten out-of-hand and used in jams and jellies. Also called "pitanga."
Swamp Cabbage
A perennial herb of the arum family. Its thick leaf stalk is used in salads after it has been boiled in two or more changes of water. Also known as "skunk cabbage."
Swamp seed
Rice.
Sweat
To cook vegetables very slowly in a little fat and their own steam so they soften but do not brown.
Swedish Meatballs
A combination of ground meat (often a combination of beef, pork, or veal), sautéed onions, milk-soaked breadcrumbs, beaten eggs, and seasonings. The mixture is formed into small balls, then sautéed until brown.
Swedish Turnip
A root vegetable from the mustard family that resembles a large turnip. This vegetable can be prepared any way that turnips can be cooked. Also called "Swedish turnips."
Sweet and Sour Sauce
A sauce that has a flavor intended to balance sweet with pungent. This is usually accomplished by using sugar and vinegar. This type of sauce is often served over meat, fish, or vegetables.
Sweet chestnut
The fruit of the sweet chestnut tree that is edible when cooked. Often roasted and eaten whole, or added to other dishes such as stuffing. Can also be ground to make flour. Chestnuts make a good accompaniment to Brussels sprouts and are served with many winter dishes, especially poultry and game.
Sweet Chocolate
Highly like the composition of semisweet chocolate, sweet chocolate has more sugar added and less chocolate liquor.
Sweet Pepper
Any of a wide variety of mildly-flavored peppers, including "bell peppers," "pimiento," "bull's horn," "Cubanell," and the "sweet banana pepper."
Sweet Pickle Cure
A solution of sugar, salt, water, sodium nitrate/or sodium nitrite. This solution is used to cure meats by injecting or soaking the meat.
Sweet potato
Root vegetable that resembles a potato, but is quite different. Often pinkish in colour, the sweet potato can be cooked in a variety of ways - though it is often baked.
Sweet Potato Noodles
"Tangmyon" or sweet potato noodles are similar to cellophane noodles, and they are often made with mung bean starch. Like cellophane noodles, they become translucent once cooked and will absorb the flavors of the foods they are cooked with. Used in stir fry dishes, to cook simply soften noodles in hot water for 10 minutes then stir-fry for 45 seconds to 1 minute.
Sweetbreads
The culinary term for the thymus gland of an animal. Those of veal and lamb are most commonly eaten. The pancreas is also considered a sweetbread, but its taste and texture is inferior to that of the thymus gland.
Sweetened condensed milk
Milk that has been evaporated to about half of its volume and has sugar added. Sticky and sweet.
Sweetsop
Also known as "Sugar Apple," this is the sweet pulpy fruit of a tropical American tree. The skin of this heart-shaped fruit is sweet and custard-like. It is similar in flavor to a mild cherimoya. Eaten raw and in desserts and in ices.
Swiss Chard
Another name for "chard," a type of beet that doesn't develop the swollen, fleshy roots of ordinary beets. This vegetable is grown for its large leaves which are used much like other green vegetables.
Swiss Cheese
A term for cheeses that have a pale yellow, slightly nutty-flavored flesh and large holes. Switzerland is famous for two cheeses: "Emmentaler," and "Gruyere." Swiss cheeses are prized for their excellent melting properties.
Swiss roll tin
Jellyroll pan.
Swiss steak
Round or chuck steak that has been tenderized by pounding, coated with flour, and browned on both sides. The meat is then smothered in chopped tomatoes, onions, carrots, celery, broth, and seasonings, then baked for about two hours.
Swordfish
A saltwater food and sport fish with mild-flavored, moderately fat flesh. The flesh is red, dense, and meat-like. Thanks to its firmness, swordfish can be prepared by baking, broiling, grilling, poaching, or sautéing.
Syllabub
English dessert made of whipped cream, white wine and sugar, usually infused with lemon. Syllabub dates back to the time of Elizabeth I.
Syrup
Thick, sweet liquid made by boiling sugar with water or fruit juices.
Szechuan Sauce
A sauce prepared with the Szechuan pepper. This pepper (and therefore the sauce) has a very distinctive mildly hot flavor and aroma.