14 French culinary terms explained

14 French culinary terms explained

Find your way around the kitchen en français with these French culinary terms

Allumette – vegetables are cut into small thin pieces the size of matchsticks.

Bain-marie – a shallow pan of warm water used to cook dishes such as crème brûlée, which prevents curdling.

Bouquet garni – a mix of herbs tied together with string used to flavour stews and soups.

Cartouche – a lid made from a circle of parchment paper that covers the surface of a soup, sauce or stew to prevent a ‘skin’ forming and to control heat and evaporation.

Chiffonade – a knife technique used for cutting herbs and vegetables into thin strips or ribbons.

Confit – a technique of cooking food in fat at a low temperature, usually used for meat such as duck (confit de canard).

Demi-glace – the process of reducing a stock to a highly concentrated sauce.

En papillote – food (usually fish) is wrapped and cooked in parchment paper to retain moisture.

Mirepoix – a flavour base made from diced carrot, onion and celery.

Persillade – a classic mixture of chopped parsley and garlic which can also include other herbs, shallots and oil.

Roux – equal quantities of butter and plain flour cooked together to form the base of various sauces.

Sous-vide – meaning ‘under vacuum’, a method in which food is placed in a vacuum-sealed bag and cooked in a water bath at a precise temperature.

Velouté – meaning ‘velvety’, a smooth sauce made from a light stock that is thickened with a roux.


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