Confusing Restaurant Menu Terms Decoded

Having trouble decoding that restaurant menu? Here are confusing menu terms explained.

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Navigating a menu can be difficult with all the confusing terms that describe how your food is cooked and how your food is served. What does sous-vide even mean?!


Use this cheat sheet to decode the next confusing menu that you run into, and discover new favorite dishes or cooking methods along the way!


1  Braised


To braise means to slowly cook large cuts of meat in a simmering liquid that partially covers the meat. The results will give your tender meat (slow-cooking breaks down its fibers), and rich flavor developed over time.



2  Sous-vide


Anything cooked sous-vide is cooked in vacuum-sealed bags over several hours in a temperature-controlled water bath. The French word translates to "under vacuum," and the cooking method produces consistently cooked cuts of meat, perfectly soft (but still runny) eggs, and locked-in flavor.


3  Blanched


This basic cooking technique is usually done on vegetables: a quick boil in water, then immediately shocked in an ice bath afterwards. The result? Bright, crisp, and fresh broccoli, asparagus, and green beans, cauliflower!





4  Poached


Poaching involves cooking food (usually meat or eggs) in liquid like water, wine, or stock. It is different from simmering and boiling because it happens at lower temperatures and cooks food very gently.


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5  Reduction


A reduction will most likely describe a sauce in a restaurant menu. This one is simple: it just means that a liquid like juice, sauce, wine, stock, or soup is simmered until it reduces to a more concentrated version.


6  À la carte


When a dish or a bottle of wine is offered to you à la carte, or if you are asked to take a look at an à la carte menu, it means that dishes are priced and served separately from a set menu, or as stand-alone dishes.

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7  Purée


A purée will usually refer to starches or vegetables passed through a blender or sieve, resulting in a smooth but heavy component to your dish.




8  À la mode


When you see this on a menu, it is always a good sign! This means that your dessert will be served with ice cream. Imagine biting into a hot brownie or cookie with a melthy scoop of ice cream on top!


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