In cooking, there are some basic methods of cooking that are used. These commonly used basic cooking methods are divided into two general groups.
The groups are: Dry heat cookery methods and moist heat cookery methods. The methods of cooking are divided into these two groups because of the way food is cooked and the type of heat that is used. Let us have a look at the Dry Heat cookery methods.
Dry heat Cookery Methods
In dry heat cooking methods, the food being cooked does not use water to cook the food. The food is left dry and heat is applied to cook the food. Such methods of cooking are: baking, steaming, grilling, and roasting. When heat is applied to the food, the food cooks in its own juice or the water added to the food during its preparation evaporates during the heating process and this cooks the food. Heat is applied directly to the food by way of convection thus making the food to get cooked. The action or movement of air around the food cooks it. Let us now have a look at each of these cooking methods
In baking method of cooking, the food is cooked using convection heating. The food is put into an enclosed area where heat is then applied and the movement of heat within the confined space, acts on the food that make it get cooked.
To steam food, water is added to a pot and then a stand is placed inside the pot. The water level should be under the stand and not above it. There is no contact between the food and the water that is added to the pot. Food is then placed on the stand and heat is applied. The hot steam rising from the boiling water acts on the food and the food gets cooked. It is the hot steam that cooks the food, as there is no contact between the food and the water inside the pot. This method of cooking for vegetables is very good as the food does not lose its flavor and much of the nutrients are not lost during the cooking.
There are two methods of grilling that are used these days. One type of grilling is the one that is commonly used by the people in the village. This is when food is cooked over hot charcoal on an open fire. The food is placed on top of the burning charcoal. Sometimes people improvise by using wire mesh and place it over the open fire to grill fish or vegetables. The other method is using grills that are inbuilt in stoves. In this method, the griller, which has a tray, is heated up and the food is placed on the grill tray to cook. The heat can be gas-generated or electric-generated depending on the type of stove used. The food is again left to cook on the grill with the doors of the grill open. People who can afford to buy a stove would use the grilling part to grill their food. What happens in this type of cooking is the heat seals the outside part of the food and the juice inside the food cooks it. The flavor of the food is not lost and much of the nutrients are not lost either. Food is frequently turned over to prevent it from burning and to ensure that equal heating and cooking time is applied to both sides of the food. By doing this, the food is cooked evenly and thoroughly.
With roasting, direct heat is applied to the food. The heat seals the outside part of the food and the juice inside the food cooks the food. Roasting is mainly used when cooking fleshy food like fish, meat or chicken. When heat is applied to the outer covering of the food, it seals it up thereby trapping all the juices inside the food. The action of direct heating, heats up the juices inside the food, which then cooks the food. Again there is very little nutrient lost and the flavor is not spoilt. Food is frequently rotated over the spit so that there is even heating applied to all parts of the food. This is so that heat is applied evenly to the food to make it get cooked properly.
Moist Heat Cookery Methods
In moist heat cookery methods, liquid is used as a medium to cook the food. Such medium could be water, coconut cream or oil. These liquids are added to the food before heat is applied to it or sometimes heat is applied to the liquid before the food is added into the cooking utensils to be cooked. The moist heat cookery methods include: boiling, stewing, shallow frying, deep frying, barbecuing and basting. All these moist heat cooking methods use liquid to cook the food in.
This is the most common method of cooking and is also the simplest. With this method of cooking, enough water is added to food and it is then cooked over the fire. The action of the heated water makes the food to get cooked. The liquid is usually thrown away after the food is cooked. In the case of cooking rice, all the water is absorbed by the rice grains to make it get cooked. During the heating process, the nutrients can get lost or destroyed and the flavor can be reduced with this method of cooking. If you over cooked cabbage, all the nutrients can get lost.
In the process of cooking using the stewing method, food is cooked using a lot of liquid. Different kinds of vegetables are chopped, diced or cubed and added to the pot. Sometimes pieces of selected meat, fish or chicken is also chopped and added to the stew. The liquid is slightly thickened and stewed food is served in that manner. This method is also used when preparing fruits that are going to be served as desserts. With this cooking method, every food is cooked together at the same time in one pot. The flavor, colors, shapes and textures of the different vegetables that are used, makes stewing a handy method of cooking. The only disadvantage is that some of the vegetables might be overcooked and thus the nutrient content becomes much less. It is therefore important that the vegetables that take the longest to cook to be put into the pot first and the ones that need least cooking to be put in last. In this way much of the nutrient contents of the food does not get lost.
When food is fried using oil or solid fat it is important that you observe some rules in handling oil or fat. Simple rules to follow when frying-
- Make sure there is enough oil or fat put in the frying pan or a deep frying pan.
- The food to be cooked must not have water dripping from it. This is because when water comes into contact with hot oil or fat, you will have the oil sizzling and spitting out of the pan, which could burn your skin if you are not careful.
- Put the food into the hot oil carefully. Try not to make a big splash as the oil could burn your skin.
- The oil of fat should be heated to the right temperature before putting food into the pan to be fried. If the food is put in when the oil or fat is not heated to the right temperature, the food will soak up the oil and you will have food that is all oily or greasy. If the oil or fat is overheated, you will end up with food that is burnt.
- Sometimes the food especially doughnuts will turn brown on the inside but the dough inside is uncooked. To cook food using the frying method, there are two ways of doing it. There is the shallow frying and the deep frying methods.
In shallow frying, food is cooked in a frying pan with a little amount of oil or fat. The oil or fat is heated to the correct amount and the food is put into the heated oil. The food is turned over a few minutes or is stirred around a couple of times before it is cooked and dished out. If patties, potato chips or coated foods are fried, it is best to put a piece of brown paper or paper napkin inside the tray to soak up any oil from the food before serving it.
This is when a lot of oil or fat is used in cooking the food. The oil or fat is usually put into a deep pan and is heated to boiling point. Food is then put into the hot boiling oil and is cooked in that way. Such food as fish fingers, potato chips, meatballs, and doughnuts to name a few, are cooked using the deep frying method.
The method of cooking food by barbecuing is usually associated with fundraising activities, parties or picnics. It is most suitable to cooking meat cutlets, fish or chicken pieces. The food is usually marinated with spices and tenderizers (for meat cuts) for some time before it is cooked. With this method of cooking, a sheet of metal with stands is heated up and oil is used to cook the food. A sufficient amount of oil is heated up and food is added. The food is then turned over a couple of times before it is dished out.
This method of cooking is usually associated with roasting. The juice or liquid that comes out of the meat being cooked is spooned over the roast frequently while it is being roasted. The outer part of the meat is moistened frequently during the cooking process with the juice that is being spooned over. Usually, the extra juice from the cooked meat is added to a mixture to make the meat sauce.