Sabayon - a sweet egg dessert or sauce, flavored with wine. In Italy it is called zabaione.
Saccharin - a commercial synthetic sugar substitute. It is said to be 500 times sweeter than sugar.
Sacher Torte - a famous Viennese cake made of chocolate with apricot filling and dark chocolate icing.
Saddle - a cut of meat including both loins. In beef, this is considered the finest cut. Also, used in reference to lamb and mutton.
Safflower - a major source of orange dye, oil and polyunsaturated fat.
Saffron - dried, yellow-orange stamens of the flower of crocus sativus. Saffron is available as threads and as grains. The threads are considered best, though far more expensive.
Sage - an herb (Salvia officinalis) native to the Mediterranean region; has soft, slender, slightly furry, gray-green leaves and a pungent, slightly bitter, musty mint flavor; used for medicinal and culinary purposes; available fresh or dried, used chopped, whole or rubbed.
Saint-Germain - a soup made of fresh green peas.
Saint- Honoré - an impressive dessert of caramel-glazed cream puffs circling cream filling.
Sake - a wine made from rice.
Salami - a highly seasoned dried Italian sausage made of pork or beef.
Salmagundi - a meat-salad dish with hard boiled eggs, beets, anchovies and pickles.
Salmi - a stew made of leftover or precooked roast game.
Salsa - 1. Spanish for sauce. 2. Traditionally, a Mexican cold sauce made from tomatoes flavored with cilantro, chiles and onions. 3. Generally, a cold chunky mixture of fresh herbs, spices, fruits and/or vegetables used as a sauce or dip.
Salt - 1. A substance resulting from the chemical interaction of an acid and a base, usually sodium and chloride. 2. A white granular substance (sodium chloride) used to season foods.
Saltpeter - Potassium nitrate, a preservative used with salt for pickling and keeping meat. Said to inhibit sexuality, but this is considered to be a myth.
Sangria - a sweetened wine drink made with red wine and fruit and brandy, which is served traditionally with paella, in Spain.
Sarsaparilla - a drink flavoring made with the dried roots of a plant of the smilax genus.
Sashimi - raw saltwater fish and other foods sliced paper thin and served decoratively; a native Japanese dish.
Sauerkraut - white cabbage cut finely, salted and fermented in its own liquid.
Sauté - to brown or cook a food quickly in a pan over direct heat, usually using a small amount of hot fat.
Savarin - a yeast-raised sweet cake soaked in Kirsch or rum. French.
Savory Butter - butter whipped with a variety of flavorings, used as a spread for canapés (i.e.: anchovy butter), a sauce for grilled fish or meat (i.e.: tarragon butter), or to flavor sauces (i.e.: shrimp butter).
Scald - to heat a liquid, usually milk or cream, to just below the boiling point, when small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan.
Scallion; Scallions - The name "scallion" is applied to several members of the onion family including a distinct variety called scallion, immature onions (commonly called green onions or spring onions), young leeks and sometimes the tops of young shallots. In each case the vegetable has a white base that has not fully developed into a bulb and green leaves that are long and straight. Both parts are edible. True scallions are generally identified by the fact that the sides of the base are straight, whereas the others are usually slightly curved, showing the beginnings of a bulb.
Scallop - a bivalve mollusk of which only the muscle hinge is eaten; to bake food in a sauce topped with crumbs.
Scampi - name for shrimp. Also, a dish of shrimp cooked in a rich garlic-butter sauce. Italian.
Schnitzel - a thin slice of veal; a cutlet. May be breaded and sautéed, as in wiener schnitzel.
Scone - a quick bread used as a tea biscuit served hot with butter and jam. British Isles.
Score - to cut shallow slits at regular intervals on the surface of a food, as in scoring fat on ham before glazing, for either decoration or to tenderize, or to prevent edges from curling.
Scotch Woodcock - scrambled eggs on top of toast, spread with anchovy paste, and garnished with smoked anchovies.
Sear - to brown the surface of a meat quickly by cooking in a little fat at a very high heat in order to seal in the meats juices and create a rich color before finishing by another method.
Season - 1. Traditionally, to enhance a food's flavor by adding salt. 2. More commonly, to enhance a food's flavor by adding salt and/or pepper as well as herbs and other spices.
Seasoned Salt - a seasoning blend; its primary ingredient is salt with flavorings such as celery, garlic or onion added.
Self-Rising Flour - flour that is premixed with salt and leavening.
Semolina - a by-product of milled flour, these large wheat grains are used to make couscous, pasta, puddings or as a thickening agent.
Set - term used to describe the consistency of gelatin when it has jelled enough to unmold.
Seviche - white sea fish pickled in lime juice. South American.
Shad - a seafish that spawns in fresh water. Most popular for its delicate roe, it can be used as is fresh herring or mackerel.
Shallots - an herb with a garlic-onion flavor, small and milder than an onion, but resembling garlic cloves.
Sheepshead - a fish found along the Atlantic coast; it has white flesh that is well flavored and lean.
Sheeting - stage at which sugary jams, candies and other preserves will jell; 220 to 222 degrees on a candy or jelly thermometer. Syrup falling from a spoon dipped into the boiling kettle will sheet at this stage, rather than run off the spoon in a stream or fall off in rapidly forming individual drops. This is the signal to remove the kettle from the heat.
Shellfish - any of many species of aquatic invertebrates with shells or carapaces found in saltwater and freshwater regions worldwide, most are edible; shellfish are categorized as crustaceans and mollusks.
Shepherd’s Pie - a meat pie with a mashed potato crust.
Sherbet - a frozen sweet made with fruit juice that originated in the Middle East almost before recorded history.
Shirr - applies to eggs baked in buttered ramekins and usually topped with cream. Some versions also call for bread crumbs.
Shish Kebab - a Mediterranean dish of marinated meats (usually lamb or beef) and vegetables threaded on a skewer and grilled or broiled; also known as shashlik.
Short - the description of any pastry with a high content of fat. Fat makes pastry tender and flaky. Shortbread is a good example.
Shortening - a white, flavorless, solid fat formulated for baking or deep frying; any fat used in baking to tenderize the product by shortening gluten strands.
Shred - to cut into long narrow strips, usually with a grater or sharp knife. Today, shredding is often accomplished with the aid of a food processor.
Shredded - food that has been processed into long, slender pieces, similar to julienne.
Shrub - an alcoholic drink made with rum or brandy and a sweetened fruit syrup.
Sieve - to strain liquid from food through the fine mesh or perforated holes of a strainer or sieve.
Sift - to pass dry ingredients, such as flour and baking powder, through a sieve or sifter to remove lumps and blend and aerate the ingredients.
Simmer - to cook liquid at a temperature just below the boiling point, low enough that tiny bubbles just begin to break beneath the surface around the edge of the pan.
Sirloin - the front part of the loin of beef. This is near the hip, thus a little less tender but still excellent for roasting.
Skewer - a long strong pin of wood or metal used to hold food in shape while cooking.
Skim - to remove anything floating on top of a liquid, either fat or frothy scum. This usually forms in the early stages of boiling meats and vegetables.
Sloe - a wild plum used to flavor sloe gin, a Dutch alcohol. Also, a cultivated plum used for jams and jellies.
Smoke - to preserve meat or fish by slowly drying in the smoke of a fragrant hard-wood fire.
Smorgasbord - a buffet meal with a variety of hot and cold dishes.
Snow Peas - the immature sugar pea which has a tender, edible pod in its early stages. Also called Chinese peas, or pod peas.
Soba - Japanese buckwheat flour noodles.
Soda - bicarbonate of soda; a leavening agent used in early baking recipes, particularly with buttermilk, sour milk, cream, fruits or chocolate. Any of these, when heated with soda give off a gas that causes the dough to rise.
Soda Water - a sparkling water produced by adding carbon dioxide, often in the form of bicarbonate of soda.
Soft Peaks - the term used to describe egg whites beaten to form peaks, but still soft enough so the peaks fold or curl over, not yet at the stage described as “stiff” or “dry”.
Soufflé - a spongy hot dish, made from a sweet or savory mixture (often milk or cheese), lightened by stiffly beaten egg whites or whipped cream.
Soybean Curd - see tofu
Soy Sauce - a sauce made from fermented, boiled soybeans and roasted wheat or barley; its color ranges from light to dark brown and its flavor is generally rich and salty (a low-sodium version is available); used extensively in Asian cuisines (especially Chinese and Japanese) as a flavoring, condiment and sometimes a cooking medium.
Spaghetti - Italian for a length of cord or string and used to describe long, thin, solid rods of pasta with a circular cross section.
Spaghetti Carbonara - hot spaghetti noodles tossed with beaten eggs and a mixture of cream, grated cheese, bacon, salt and pepper, which has been slightly thickened by cooking.
Spice - an aromatic plant substance, generally bark or berry, used to flavor foods.
Spinach - a vegetable with dark green, spear-shaped leaves that can be curled or smooth and are attached to thin stems; the leaves have a slightly bitter flavor and are eaten raw or cooked.
Spiny Lobster - crustacean lacking claws, but otherwise are like a large American lobster.
Sponge Cake - a cake made without shortening and leavened only with eggs.
Sprat - a small herring found in European waters. It is served smoked but can be eaten fresh, grilled or fried.
Spring Onions - see scallion.
Sprouts - the young growth of any seed. Certain sprouts make tasty and nutritious salads, for instance, bean sprouts or alfalfa sprouts.
Sprouting - sprouting is to cause seeds to germinate for use in cooking or salads.
Squab - young commercially raised pigeons.
Squash - the edible fleshy fruit of various members of the gourd (Cucurbitaceae) family; generally divided into two categories based on peak season and skin type: summer and winter.
Squid - a relative of the octopus, and a popular food in fish dishes in the Mediterranean.
Star Anise - a star-shaped spice used in Oriental cooking. It is used by some as a substitute for the bay leaf.
Steam - to cook indirectly by setting food on top of boiling water in a covered pot.
Steam-pressure canning method - used for processing low-acid foods, such as meats, fish, poultry, and most vegetables. A temperature higher than a boiling temperature is required to can these foods safely. The food is processed in a steam-pressure canner at 10 pounds’ pressure (240) to ensure that all of the spoilage micro-organisms are destroyed.
Steep - to let food, such as tea, stand in not quite boiling water until the flavor is extracted.
Stew - a mixture of meat or fish and vegetables cooked by simmering in its own juices along with other liquid, such as water and/or wine.
Stiff Peaks - egg whites beaten until they are stiff enough to stand on their own. They have a glossy moist look when just right, and stand upright when the beater is lifted from the bow.
Stir - to combine ingredients or move ingredients around with a spoon in a circular motion.
Stir-Fry - to cook quickly in oil over high heat, using light tossing and stirring motions to preserve shape of food.
Stock - a rich extract of soluble parts of meat, fish, poultry, etc. A basis for soups or gravies.
Strain - to separate liquid from solid food by pouring through a strainer or fine sieve.
Strudel - a German pastry of paper-thin flaky dough, filled with a sweet or savory mixture, often apple.
Stuff - to fill a cavity in food with another food.
Stuffing - a seasoned mixture of food used to fill the cavity of poultry, fish, vegetables or around which a strip of meat, fish or vegetable may be rolled.
Suet - the fat surrounding the kidneys and loin of an animal. It is used in stuffings, mincemeat and plum pudding.
Sugar - a sweet, water-soluble, crystalline carbohydrate; used as a sweetener and preservative for foods.
Sugar Snap Pea - a sweet pea that is a hybrid of the English pea and snow pea; the bright green, crisp pod and the paler green, tender seeds are both edible.
Sukiyaki - Japanese dish of thinly sliced meat and vegetables, cooked quickly in a little broth, and heaped in a big plate in the center of the table. Diners help themselves with chopsticks.
Suprème - a French term used to describe a boned chicken breast.
Supreming - a method of using a paring knife to remove the skin, pith, and outer membrane from citrus fruit and then carefully cutting each segment away from white membranes.
Sushi-Meshi - Japanese vinegared rice, decorated beautifully and served with slices of raw fish.
Sweat - a method of cooking vegetables in simmering butter; also called “fat steaming.”
Sweet Potato - a variety of sweet potato with a thick, dark orange skin and an orange flesh that remains moist when cooked; sometimes erroneously called a yam.
Sweet and Sour - a term used to describe a dish or sauce combining sugar and vinegar. Used in Chinese, Jewish and German cooking, and sometimes in Italian.
Sweetbreads - the thymus glands of veal, young beef, lamb and pork.
Syllabub - a drink made of frothy milk and alcohol, usually wine, served on festive occasions in the past.
Syrup - sugar dissolved in liquid, usually water; it is often flavored with spices or citrus zest.
Syrupy - thickened to about the consistency of egg white.
Szechwan Chile (Chili) Sauce - a sauce or paste made from chiles, oil, salt and garlic and used as a flavoring in Chinese Szechwan cooking; also known as chile paste or chile paste with garlic.
Szechuan pepper; Szechwan - Native to the Szechuan province of China, this mildly hot spice comes from the prickly ash tree. Though not related to the Peppercorn family, Szechuan berries resemble black peppercorns but contain a tiny seed. Szechuan pepper has a distinctive flavor and fragrance. It can be found in Asian markets and specialty stores in whole or powdered form. Whole berries are often heated before being ground to bring out their flavor and aroma. Szechuan pepper is also known as anise pepper, Chinese pepper, fagara, flower pepper, sansho and Sichuan pepper.