Restaurant Terms Explained

Decode your Menu

Culinary terms can be confusing. Will your food be salty or sweet? Bitter or sour? Words make a world of a difference when it comes to flavor. That’s why we polled diners on the restaurant terms that stump them the most. Then, we commissioned artists to illustrate the top 25 most misunderstood terms. We hope you’ll enjoy our little glossary, and fondly associate these words with dining experiences–past, present, and future.

Top 25 terms

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z


A la plancha
[ä lə ˈplän(t)SHə]
(Of meat or fish) pan-fried or cooked on a griddle
Fragrant type of mayonnaise from Provence; made with garlic, olive oil, egg yolks and lemon juice
Amuse bouche
Single, bite sized appetizer served according to the chef's selection and not ordered from a menu by the diner
Au jus
[oh zhoos]
Meat with its own natural juices from cooking
[bal- -teen]
A piece of roasted meat which has first been boned, stuffed, and folded or rolled into an egg-like shape
A Korean dish consisting of rice topped with sautéed vegetables, chili paste, and beef or other meat, sometimes with the addition of A raw or fried egg
Black and blue
[black and blue]
Charred and crisp on the outside and rare on the inside
Food cooked, and occasionally served, on skewers or brochettes
[kahr-nee-tuh z]
Braised or roasted pork served shredded in small pieces, often as a filling in tacos, burritos, etc.
Thinly sliced raw meat or fish usually served as an appetizer
A seafood dish popular in the coastal regions of Latin America. The dish is typically made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with ají or chili peppers
A chopping technique in which herbs or leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and basil, are cut into long, thin strips
Food that is cooked slowly over a long period of time as a method of preservation
Dense, soft, classic pudding
French culinary term for a pie crust usually made of flaky or puff pastry
A dish of raw fish or seafood, typically dressed with oil, citrus juice, and seasonings
En brodo
[en BROH/doh]
A beef or vegetable stock that is often used on its own as a broth or as the base for sauces, stews and more
En papillote
[ahn pa-pee-yawt]
A method of cooking the food in a folded parcel, usually made from parchment paper
A process in which an agent causes an organic substance to break down into simpler substances; especially, the anaerobic breakdown of sugar into alcohol
French stew traditionally served in a thick white sauce
Cold soup made from raw vegetables, usually with A tomato base
A savory, spicy, and pungent fermented Korean condiment made from red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt
A puff of choux pastry flavored with cheese (usually Gruyère), often stuffed with a savory filling
To cook with a covering of bread crumbs or cheese until a crisp layer forms on top
A type of Italian cured pork made from the cheeks of a pig
A North African spice mixture containing chilli, cumin, garlic, coriander and olive oil
Culinary knife cut in which vegetables are cut into long thin strips, similar to matchsticks
A unique cured pork product produced in Italy. It is made from the thick layer of fat directly below the skin of a pig; the fat is carefully removed and cured in salt and spices so that it can be stored for extended periods of time
[muh n-yair]
(Especially of fish) cooked or served in lightly browned butter with lemon juice and parsley
Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients
Panna cotta
A cold Italian custard, often served with fruit sauce or caramel syrup
Patatas bravas
[pəˌtɑːtəs ˈbrɑːvəs]
A Spanish dish of sautéed potatoes in or with a spicy tomato sauce, frequently served as a tapa
A dessert consisting of a meringue base or shell filled with whipped cream and fruit
A type of Vietnamese soup, typically made from beef stock and spices to which noodles and thinly sliced beef or chicken are added
Piri piri
Portuguese term for hot chilies or the hot sauce made from them
where your main course begins (but shouldn’t end). The items in this category are likely to include pastas of all shapes, sizes, and names
A highly seasoned dish of meat cut into small pieces and stewed with vegetables
In Spanish (especially Catalan) cookery: a piquant sauce of red peppers, nuts, garlic, and other ingredients
A mixture of fat and flour cooked together and used to thicken sauces
[semi - freddo]
A partially frozen Italian dessert
An Asian plant of the mint family used as a culinary herb
(Of fish) served raw, typically seasoned and shaped into small cakes.
A French meat loaf dish, similar to p pâté, made with more coarsely chopped ingredients
A round, yellowish citrus fruit with fragrant, acidic juice, used chiefly as a flavoring