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Old 09-22-2008, 08:07 AM   #1
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Cooking terms for the layman

Does someone have a link they could share explaining cooking terms in an easily explained way? Or perhaps take a whack at explaining them yourself?

The scenario: I have a recipe that calls for a shredded head of cabbage. I'm not exactly sure what "shredded" is..... Is it like the lettuce on a big mac, or a taco from taco bell? Is it finer, like a purchased bag of coleslaw? Is there a difference between shredding a head of cabbage and slicing one?

Where does something chopped become something diced? What is the difference? Does perhaps one use a knife and ther other a machine of sorts (food processor, mandolin)?

Fold, incorporate, stir, whisk..... I think I have a handle on those. I guess I'm looking more for cutting techniques and perhaps when one would forego the knife and reach for a different cooking tool or appliance to get the desired results.

Seems I remember a RR recipe calling for shredded potatoes where she accomplished this by rubbing the spud on a cheese grater. I don't think that would work very well for a head of cabbage....

Can someone clear part of my confusion?
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Old 09-22-2008, 08:21 AM   #2
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Food Dictionary, Culinary Terms & Cooking Definitions

Try this.
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Old 09-22-2008, 08:26 AM   #3
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I was going to mention, there are online 'food dictionary' sites. Just type in those words, pick a site and ask your question. Epicurious is a good one.
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Old 09-22-2008, 08:30 AM   #4
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wow you made my head spin pac.

yeah epicourious is good.
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Old 09-22-2008, 08:35 AM   #5
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OK, so minced is smaller than chopped. And diced is 1/8-1/4" pieces... does that mean minced food falls inbetween chopped and diced? I always thought minced was the smallest, but that food dictionary site doesn't really say where it falls...

And I take it that shredded merely means narrow strips. Does that mean there are different degrees of shredded, like my examples. Coleslaw is shredded, big mac lettuce is shredded, one is just shredded a lot more?
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Old 09-22-2008, 08:36 AM   #6
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OK, so minced is smaller than chopped. And diced is 1/8-1/4" pieces... does that mean minced food falls inbetween chopped and diced? I always thought minced was the smallest, but that food dictionary site doesn't really say where it falls...

And I take it that shredded merely means narrow strips. Does that mean there are different degrees of shredded, like my examples. Coleslaw is shredded, big mac lettuce is shredded, one is just shredded a lot more?

You sound like a curious little imp
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Old 09-22-2008, 08:39 AM   #7
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That is a cool link Stacy!

Pacanis - when I shred cabbage, I use a knife. I've tried it on my mandolin but I don't think I have enough skill to do thin things. And, actually, if you have a big enough cheese shredder or can cut your cabbage down to fit the width of what you have, shredding it on a cheese shredder works well. I'm not patient enough to cut it down and then shred so choose to do it by hand / knife. So ... First, I cut it into fourths and cut out the core at an angle (you'll see the core after you cut it in half and can get to it easier once it's in fourths). I don't cut out much, just the solid piece that you can see. Then I just cut strips the width I want. If I'm saute'ing, I cut them a little thicker (think 1/2 an inch). For 'slaw, I cut them narrower (think 1/4 inch). I don't think there is a hard / fast rule on width, just taste and preference for what you are making. I do think that when they ask for sliced cabbage, though, they mean a much thicker "slab" from the head (caution, I may be wrong!).

Hope that helps a little!
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Old 09-22-2008, 08:49 AM   #8
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That is a cool link Stacy!

Pacanis - when I shred cabbage, I use a knife. I've tried it on my mandolin but I don't think I have enough skill to do thin things. And, actually, if you have a big enough cheese shredder or can cut your cabbage down to fit the width of what you have, shredding it on a cheese shredder works well. I'm not patient enough to cut it down and then shred so choose to do it by hand / knife. So ... First, I cut it into fourths and cut out the core at an angle (you'll see the core after you cut it in half and can get to it easier once it's in fourths). I don't cut out much, just the solid piece that you can see. Then I just cut strips the width I want. If I'm saute'ing, I cut them a little thicker (think 1/2 an inch). For 'slaw, I cut them narrower (think 1/4 inch). I don't think there is a hard / fast rule on width, just taste and preference for what you are making. I do think that when they ask for sliced cabbage, though, they mean a much thicker "slab" from the head (caution, I may be wrong!).

Hope that helps a little!
So some cooking actions are more subjective.... left up to the individual cook? One person's chopped may be another's shredded?

Oh, and I was going to try to remove the core the way I do for lettuce, by smashing the core down on the counter, then pulling it out. I'm not sure if that will work on cabbage yet, but I'll find out
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Old 09-22-2008, 10:17 AM   #9
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So some cooking actions are more subjective.... left up to the individual cook? One person's chopped may be another's shredded?
IMHO, yes. We tend to like a little thicker cabbage in 'slaw so I "shred" it thicker. My sister on the other hand likes her's like the lettuce on your Big Mac - THIN! I think if you are trying to match a recipe, try to match the width to what you have eaten before. If you are just following a recipe, cut it to match your tastes.

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Oh, and I was going to try to remove the core the way I do for lettuce, by smashing the core down on the counter, then pulling it out. I'm not sure if that will work on cabbage yet, but I'll find out
I don't think it will work because cabbage is so much more dense than lettuce and you may end up just bruising your cabbage (or your hand or your counter). However, I am never one to squash a good try ... let me know if it works!
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Old 09-22-2008, 10:23 AM   #10
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smashing the core down on the counter
for some strange reason I just remembered someone mentioning banging brown sugar on the counter to try to break it up
good way to take out your aggression
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