Food Dictionary

Waffle
Pancake batter cooked in a special hinged cooking utensil called a "waffle iron" which cooks both sides at once and gives waffles their honeycombed syrup-catching surface. Belgian waffles are often heaped with fruits and whipped cream.
Wakami
A dried seaweed. Wakami is soaked in cold water before it is served. It is often served with cucumbers, miso, and vinegar. Also used in soups. Popular in Japanese cooking.
Walnut
A popular nut with a distinctive brain shape. Walnuts are used in sweet and savoury cooking, and are good pickled and served with cheese. They can also be used finely chopped with sweet dishes or roughly chopped with salads and stir fries. Best stored whole with shell on.
Walnut or hazelnut oil
These highly flavorful oils should (almost) never be used for cooking, but are wonderful in salad dressing and drizzled over cooked foods. Always refrigerate, as nut oils go rancid more quickly than other oils.
Wasabi
A Japanese horseradish that is dried, powdered, and made into a pale green paste with a sharp, pungent, extremely potent flavor. Often mixed with soy sauce and served as a condiment to sushi, sashimi, and other Japanese specialties.
Washed-rind cheese
Frequently orange, rinds washed or rubbed with brine, wine, beer or brandy (pont l'eveque, tallegio, Spanish mahon).
Water bath
The French call this cooking technique "bain marie." It consists of placing a container of food in a large, shallow pan of warm water, which surrounds the food with gentle heat. The food may be cooked in this manner either in an oven or on top of a range. This technique is designed to cook delicate dishes such as custards, sauces and savory mousses without breaking or curdling them. It can also be used to keep foods warm.
Water Buffalo
A buffalo native to the Old World tropics with large flattened horns. Also called "water ox."
Water chestnut
The nut-like kernel of a water plant that grows in southeast Asia. The flesh is white, crisp, and juicy and has a bland, somewhat sweet nutty flavor. Their crunchy texture makes them popular in stir-fried dishes.
Water Convulvolus
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."
Watercress
A member of the mustard family that grows in running water. Watercress has small, crisp, green leaves and a pungent flavor with a slightly bitter peppery flavor. Use in salads, in cream soups, and to garnish vegetables.
Waterglass
Sodium silicate; used as a preservative for eggs
Watermelon
Originally from Africa, this melon has a sweet, moist red flesh. Asians roast the seeds, and pickled watermelon rind is popular in some parts of the world. If slapping the watermelon returns a resounding hollow thump, it is ripe.
Watermelon Seed
The seed of the watermelon. More popular in Asia than in the U.S.
Waterzooi
A rich Flemish stew with chicken or fish and assorted vegetables. The sauce is enriched with a liaison of cream and egg yolks.
Wax Bean
A pale yellow variety of the green bean that is eaten with its pod."
Waxy red or white potatoes
Sometimes sold as "new" potatoes when they are small, these are low-starch potatoes with thin red or white skins.
Weakfish
Has a mouth that is easily torn by fishing hooks - hence its name. This unusual fish with delicate flesh flakes easily, making it quite difficult to handle. Has a soft white to rosy flesh.
Weisswurst
Fresh sausage -- Of German origin, the name means "white sausage;" made of pork and veal; mildly spices; links are about four inches long and plump; very perishable.
Welsh Onion
A species of onion with a bunching, leek-like interleaved bulb and tubular leaves. It is a perennial evergreen with a delicate flavor that can be used by breaking off leaves as the plant matures. Also called the "everlasting onion."
Welsh rarebit
A British speciality consisting of a slice of toasted bread covered with a mixture of cheshire or cheddar cheese melted in pale ale with English mustard, pepper and sometimes a dash of Worcestershire sauce. This is then grilled and served very hot.
Wheat
There are over 30,000 varieties of this ubiquitous grain. Cultivated for over 6,000 years, wheat is second only to rice as a grain staple. Wheat contains more gluten than other cereals, making it an excellent choice for breadmaking.
Wheat Bran
The rough outer covering of the wheat kernel. Wheat bran is low in nutritional value but high in fiber. Wheat bran is sold separately and is used to add flavor and fiber to baked goods.
Wheat Cake
A pancake made of wheat flour.
Wheat Flour
A flour produced by milling the endosperm portion of the wheat kernel. "Whole wheat flour," which is more nutritious, is made by milling the entire kernel, including the outer covering, or "bran."
Wheat Germ
The tiny nucleus of the endosperm (the inner part of the wheat kernel without the outer bran). Wheat germ has a nutty flavor and is a concentrated source of oil, vitamins, minerals and protein. Used to add nutrients to various foods.
Wheat Gluten
The protein remaining after wheat flour has been washed to remove starch. Gluten helps hold in the gas bubbles produced by leavening agents. This is why bread flours contain high levels of gluten and cake flours contain low levels.
Wheat kernels
wheat berries.
Wheat Pilaf
A pilaf made from either the wheat berries (whole unprocessed kernels) or cracked wheat (the whole berries broken into coarse, medium, and fine parts).
Wheat-Flour Noodles
Made with wheat flour and water, this is the oldest noodle form found in China. Still made by hand in fine restaurants around the world, they are created from a soft dough, resulting in a silky texture. They do vary in thickness and may be round or flat. The thinnest are used in refined soups, whereas the thicker varieties stand up to heartier soups and casseroles. Although these noodles come in shrimp-, chicken- and crab-flavored varieties the quality can vary dramatically along with their flavor. To cook wheat-flour noodles boil fresh noodles for 2 1/2 to 4 minutes or dried ones for 4 1/2 to 5 minutes.
Whelk
A marine snail often eaten direct from the shell. Cooked for 10 minutes in salted water, whelks are eaten with bread and butter.
Whey
The liquid part of milk that remains after the curd is removed. Most whey is further separated with the fattier parts used in making butter. Some whey is used to make "whey cheese" or "Ricotta cheese."
Whip
To add air and volume to food by beating rapidly using a wire whisk, beater or electric mixer until mixture is light and fluffy.
Whipping cream
Cream with a fat content over 35 per cent, the minimum amount necessary to allow it to stay firm once beaten. Single cream doesn't contain enough butterfat to thicken when beaten: it's the fat globules that trap whisked air, creating the characteristic foam and texture of whipped cream.
Whisk
A wire kitchen utensil used for mixing dry ingredients together
Whiskey
A liquor produced from the fermented mash of grains such as barley, corn, and rye. Popular varieties of whiskey (spelled "whisky" in Canada and Scotland) include bourbon, Canadian whisky, Irish whiskey, rye, and scotch.
Whiskey Sour
An alcoholic beverage made from whiskey, lemon juice, and a small amount of sugar. Sours can also be made with bourbon, gin, or rum, but the whiskey sour is the most popular.
White Bean
A rather generic term that refers to any of several dried beans, including "marrow beans," "great northern beans," "navy beans," and "pea beans."
White chocolate
Not a true chocolate at all. It is, rather, a blend of sugar, cocoa butter, milk solids, lecithin and vanilla. If a product does not contain cocoa butter, it isn't "white chocolate."
White Pepper
White peppercorn is somewhat less pungent than the black variety. After ripening, its skin is removed and the berry is dried. White pepper is used in light-colored sauces and dishes where black speckles could be unaesthetic.
White Rice
Rice that has had the husk, bran, and germ removed. White rice is sometimes called "polished rice."
White Russian
An alcoholic beverage made by combining vodka, Kahlua (or other coffee liqueur), and cream. A Black Russian is similar, but contains no cream.
White sauce
The basis of many other sauces, made from flour, butter and milk. Smooth, slightly thick consistency, which is basically tasteless.
White Truffles
Truffles are quite expensive. Available in most places only in the late fall, they come primarily from France, where they are sniffed out in forests by hunting pigs. But a little goes a long way, so don't be shocked when you hear the price per pound. If you've never tried them, you must. There is no ordinary mushroom that can remotely approximate their flavor and aroma. White truffles are more delicate and are meant to be used right at the table. You can use either a grater or a truffle shaver to introduce their flavor immediately before serving. White truffles are most complementary to foods in butter and cream sauces such as risotto and other pastas. The shavings also work well on warm salads and certain delicate fishes.
White-Flowered Gourd
A common variety of hard-shelled gourd, also called "bottle gourd" and "Calabash gourd." This gourd is used in the West Indies to produce a very popular syrup. Its shell is often used to create bowls and other utensils.
Whitebait
The young of the herring, very tiny, usually sauteed.
Whitefish
A high-fat, mild-flavored member of the salmon family with a firm white flesh. The whitefish can be poached, baked, broiled, grilled, pan fried, or stuffed. Its roe (eggs) can be cooked or made into caviar by adding salt.
Whiting
White sea fish, a member of the cod family, best bought fresh. Good for fish cakes and mousse.
Whole wheat flour
White flour has had the germ and bran removed; whole wheat flour contains both. It is nutritionally superior and has a stronger flavor. The ground germ contains oil which can grow rancid and bitter. Store carefully (in the freezer if you have room).
Wiener
Cooked, smoked sausage -- Both wieners and Vienna-style sausages take their names from the city of Vienna, Austria. Wiener-style, as originated, is sausage braided in groups of links. Vienna-style frankfurters are twisted into a chain of links. Terms are frequently used interchangeably with "frankfurter" and formula may be the same.
Wiggle
"Wiggle" is applied to a variety of shrimp recipes that feature shrimp in a sauce, served on toast or crackers.
Wild Rice
A plant from the same family as rice, but with a gray and brown grain that is about twice the length of ordinary rice grains. Wild rice has a unique, almost nutty flavor. Used to stuff game or poultry and served as a side dish.
Wine
An alcoholic beverage produced through the fermentation of grape juice. Other fruit and vegetable juices, such as dandelion and elderberry are also occasionally used in winemaking, an art the goes back at least 12,000 years.
Wine vinegar
Wine vinegar can be made from either red or white wine.
Winged Bean
A fast-growing, high-protein legume. Also called the "goa bean." This bean is entirely edible, including the shoots, flower, roots, leaves, pods, and seeds. Tastes somewhat like a cross between the cranberry bean and the green bean.
Winter Radish
A large plant thought to be of Oriental origin. These plants are grown chiefly for their pungent peppery root, which can get up to 2 pounds or more. This radish is popular in Germany and in the East. Also called "black radish."
Winter squash
These long-keeping squashes have much in common with with pumpkin and sweet potato - yellow to orange flesh, usually quite sweet and creamy when cooked. Look for firm squash with no soft spots or obvious damage, and store in a cool, dry place.
Witloof Chickory
The largest and most popular variety of "chicory," a vegetable with long silvery-white leaves. Used in salads and as a seasoning.
Wolf Fish
A firm, white-fleshed saltwater fish with a large head, strong jaws, and sharp canine teeth and molars that can grind clams, whelks, and other mollusks. Sometimes sold in the U.S. under the confusing name of "ocean catfish."
Won ton
A ravioli-like Chinese dish of noodles folded around a filling of meat, fish or vegetables. They may be boiled, steamed, or deep-fried, and served with dipping sauce.
Won Ton Skin
Paper-thin round or square sheets of dough made from flour, eggs, and salt. Used as wrappers to make "won tons" and egg rolls. Won tons are small dumplings of thin dough around a minced mixture of meat, seafood, and/or vegetables.
Wood ear mushroom
Crunch and chewy texture; subtle and mild flavor. Best used in spicy soups and stir-fries.
Wool on a handle
A cowboy term for a lamb chop; generally greatly disliked by cattlemen.
Worcestershire Sauce
A thin, spicy dark brown sauce originally from an Indian recipe. Used to flavour stews and casseroles, as a condiment and in drinks.
Wreck pans
Cowboy term for pans filled with water to accept dirty dishes.