Read an Excerpt
Abalone Abalón / Abulón ah-bah-LOHN / ah-boo-LOHN
Fish & Shellfish A mollusk found along the coastline of California, Mexico, and northern Spain. An abalone is a univalve whose shell is the source of mother-of-pearl. Fresh abalone is a delicacy but it can also be found canned, dried, and salted.
Acid Ácido AH-see-doh
general From the Latin acidus, meaning sour, the taste associated with ingredients (vinegar, citrus fruit) possessing a pH below 7. Because acid breaks down cell walls it can change the texture and appearance of foods.
Acidulate Acidular ah-see-doo-lahr
Cooking Method / Technique To add an acid. Acidulated water is water that has had some vinegar or lemon juice added to it.
Acorn Bellota beh-YOH-tah
nuts & oils The nut of the oak tree. Acorns are consumed primarily by wildlife.
Additive Aditivo ah-dee-TEE-voh
general Substances added (intentionally or not) to food to preserve its flavor, nutrition, or quality, or to aid in its processing or preparation.
Aerate Gasificar gah-see-fee-KAHR
Cooking Method / Technique To incorporate air.
Agar Agar ah-GAHR
Herbs & Spices A setting agent or thickener derived from seaweed. Often referred to as Japanese gelatin, agar differs from gelatin in that it sets at room temperature and is five times more powerful than gelatin, requiring less to be used. It is tasteless and serves as a vegetarian option to gelatin.
Agave Agave ah-GAH-veh
Fruit & Vegetables A succulent (water-retaining) plant that grows in Mexico, Central America, and the southwest United States. Poisonous when raw, agave develops a mildly sweet flavor when cooked. The sap collected from the agave plant is used to make tequila. Agave nectar is also used as a sugar substitute.
Air dry Secar al aire seh-KAHR ahl AH-ee-reh
Cooking Method / Technique To dehydrate through exposure to air.
Albumin Albumina ahl-boo-MEE-nah
general The protein found in egg whites. Albumen, spelled with an "e," is another word for egg white.
Alcohol Alcohol ahl-KOHL
Beverage Ethyl/ethanol that is found in alcoholic beverages. It is produced by distilling fermented sugars obtained from fruit or grains. Pure ethyl alcohol boils at 173°F and freezes at -173°F.
Alfalfa sprout Brote de alfalfa BROH-teh deh ahl-FAHL-fah
Fruit & Vegetables A thin, long stem produced by a sprouted alfalfa seed. They are often used in salads and sandwiches.
Allspice Pimienta de Jamaica pee-mee-EHN-tah deh hah-MAH-ee-kah
Herbs & Spices A berry of the evergreen pimiento tree. The name comes from its flavor, which is a combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper, and cloves. The spice can be purchased in whole or ground form. It is used in both sweet and savory cooking and is also referred to as Jamaica pepper.
Almond Almendra ahl-MEHN-drah
nuts & oils The kernel of the almond tree encased in a hard, inedible shell. Almonds are available in markets blanched (without their thin, brown skin) or with the skin on.
Almond extract Esencia de almendra / Extracto de almendra eh-SEHN-see-ah deh ahl-MEHN-drah / eks-TRAK-toh deh ahl-MENH-drah
condiments A flavoring produced by combining almond oil with ethyl alcohol. Since the flavor of almond extract is intense, use the proper amount of the best-quality extract you can find.
Almond oil Aceite de almendra ah-SAY-teh deh ahl-MENH-drah
nuts & oils A specialty oil that is made by pressing almonds.
Almonds, ground Almendras molidas ahl-MENH-drahs moh-LEE-dahs
nuts & oils Almonds that have been pulverized into a coarse powder. This is achieved with a food processor or mortar and pestle. When almonds are ground, a small amount of sugar is typically added to absorb some of the oil and prevent a paste from forming.
Almonds, sliced Almendras troceadas ahl-MENH-drahs troh-seh-AH-dahs
nuts & oils Almonds that have been sliced thinly lengthwise.
Aluminum foil Papel de aluminio pah-PEHL deh ah-loo-MEE-nee-oh
Equipment Thin sheets of aluminum. Aluminum foil can be found in rolls or individual sheets. The foil is opaque and extremely pliable and can withstand freezing temperatures and very high heat.
Amaranth Amaranto ah-mah-RAHN-toh
Grains & Cereals A plant high in protein. Both the seeds and leaves of amaranth can be eaten. Most commonly the seeds are ground into a flour, which does not contain gluten, and used to make breads. The leaves can be cooked or eaten raw in a salad.
Anchovy Anchoa / Boquerón ahn-CHOH-ah / boh-keh-ROHN
Fish & Shellfish A small, silvery blue fish from the Mediterranean coastline that is filleted, salt-cured, and canned. Some are also smoked. Anchovies are salty and tend to be used sparingly.
Anchovy paste Pasta de anchoas PAHS-tah deh ahn-CHOH-ahs
Condiments A paste made from a combination of mashed anchovies, water, vinegar, and spices used as a condiment for its distinctive salty taste. It can be used in recipes or spread on toast as a canapé.
Angelica Angélica ahn-HEH-lee-kah
Herbs & Spices An aromatic herb that is a member of the parsley family and thrives in northern, cold climates. Its stems and leaves are commonly used in baking, often blanched and candied for decorating cakes and pastries. The roots and seeds are also used for making liqueurs.
Anise Anís ah-NEES
Herbs & Spices An herbaceous plant that is a member of the parsley family and has a distinctive sweet licorice flavor. Its leaves and seeds are used in both sweet and savory preparations. This is the flavor found in liqueurs such as anisette (anís in Spanish), aguardiente, and pastis.
Annatto paste Pasta de annatto PAHS-tah deh ah-NAH-toh
Herbs & Spices The pulp surrounding the achiote seed in an annatto tree. Found as well in powder form, this derivative is used primarily as a coloring agent for items such as cheese, rice, and butter.
Annatto seed Achiote ah-chee-OH-teh
Herbs & Spices The seed of the annatto tree, sometimes referred to as achiote seed. This spice is used as much for coloring (bright orange red) as flavor (earthy, slightly musky). It can be found in whole or powdered form.
Antioxidant Antioxidante ahn-tee-ohks-ee-DAHN-teh
general A substance that inhibits oxidation. From a culinary point of view, oxidation results in browning and in food becoming rancid. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), for example, is a natural antioxidant that is often used in food preparation against oxidation.
Appellation Apelación / Denominación ah-peh-lah-see-OHN / deh-noh-mee-nah-see-OHN
descriptor A geographical designation applied to a grape-growing area controlled by governmental rules. The rules of appellation address issues such as grape varieties and yields per acre and vary by country and even by region. The goal of an appellation is to produce a high-quality product.
Appetizer Aperitivo ah-peh-ree-TEE-voh
general Technically the first course served at the table. An appetizer should be bite-size and is meant to stimulate the appetite. The term is often wrongly interchanged with hors d'oeuvre.
Apple Manzana mahn-SAH-nah
Fruit & Vegetables One of the oldest cultivated fruits. The apple has over a thousand varieties that vary in color, texture, and flavor. Apples can be eaten raw or cooked and are used in both savory and sweet recipes. They are available year-round but are best in the fall.
Apple corer Despepitador de manzana dehs-peh-pee-tah-DOHR deh mahn-SAH-nah
Equipment A kitchen tool used to cut and remove the center of an apple. There are a few kinds of apple corers, but the classic one is a long cylinder tube that is serrated on one end and has a handle on the other.
Applesauce Salsa de manzana SAHL-sah deh mahn-SAH-nah
Condiments A cooked puree of apples. Sugar and spices can be added for flavor.
Apricot Albaricoque ahl-bah-ree-KOH-keh
Fruit & Vegetables A relative of the peach that has been grown for over four thousand years. Its thin, furry, orange skin can be cut through without difficulty, exposing a seed that falls out easily.
Aroma Aroma ah-ROH-mah
descriptor A sense of smell that is usually associated with a pleasant odor.
Aromatics Aromatícos ah-roh-MAH-tee-kohs
descriptor Plant products—vegetables, herbs, spices—that contribute vivid aromas and flavors to food preparation.
Arrowroot Arrurruz ah-rroo-RROOS
Grains & Cereals The starchy tuber of the tropical arrowroot plant. The root is ground into a flour that is used primarily as a thickener. A unique characteristic of the thickener is that it remains clear when heated; it also does not impart a raw, chalky taste if undercooked. The flour should be mixed with a small amount of water before being added to hot liquid in order to maximize it effectiveness.
Artichoke Alcachofa ahl-kah-CHOH-fah
Fruit & Vegetables The unopened flower bud of the globe artichoke plant. An artichoke needs to be trimmed when mature but can be eaten in its entirety when young. The mature variety is usually boiled or steamed and care must be taken when getting close to the heart as it's surrounded by an inedible fur (the "choke") that must be removed. The stem can be eaten if peeled and has a flavor very similar to that of the heart. Other vegetables have the word "artichoke" in their name, but the true artichoke is the globe artichoke.
Arugula Rúcula / Roqueta roo-koo-lah / roh-KEH-tah
Fruit & Vegetables A bitter salad green with a pepper flavor. Arugla can be found in both young and mature stages. The younger the leaf, the more mild tasting it is.
Asafoetida Asafetida AH-sah-feh-TEE-dah
Herbs & Spices An herbaceous fennel-like plant that grows mainly in Iran and India. When raw, it has a pungent garlic smell but it mellows when cooked, imparting flavors and aromas reminiscent of sautéed onion and garlic. Asafetida can be found in both powdered and lump form.
Asparagus Espárrago ehs-PAH-rrah-goh
Fruit & Vegetables A member of the lily family that has an herbaceous, sweet flavor and gets significantly tougher as it matures. There are four types of asparagus: green (verde), the most common type; white (blanco), popular in Europe, where it grows underground and as such does not develop chlorophyll; purple (morado), which remains purple when fresh or lightly sautéed but turns green with prolonged cooking; and wild (silvestre), which is tender and very thin.
Astringent Astringente ahs-treen-HENH-teh
descriptor Dry, puckering mouthfeel typically caused by tannins.
Au gratin Gratinado grah-tee-NAH-doh
Cooking Method / Technique The technique of creating a golden brown crust by broiling a topping of cheese and/or bread crumbs mixed with butter. Also the name given to a dish made with this technique.
Avocado Aguacate ah-gwah-KAH-teh
Fruit & Vegetables A fruit with a buttery texture and nutty flavor and flesh that goes from pale yellow to green. It matures on the tree but ripens off the tree. The Hass variety, which is small and dark, is most commonly used in the United States.