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Restaurant Hacks: how to read a fancy menu

What do those fancy words mean anyway? We take away the guesswork when it comes to fancy restaurant menus and give you straight answers.

by: Katy Rose | 27 Jul 2018
 

Image source: iStock

ALSO READ: Restaurant Hacks: How to order wine in a restaurant 

We’ve all been there: staring at a menu in a nice restaurant, overwhelmed by all the tempting choices and mysterious terminology. We did some research to help you with the fancy words, but unfortunately you have to figure out what’s for dinner all on your own! 

Aioli: AY-YO-LEE a garlic mayo, it is delicious. 
Bone broth: a meat based liquid stock that has been gently simmered for up to 24 hours. 
Bisque: BISKH or BEESKH a traditional French seafood soup, using the shells of lobsters, prawns and crab to create a rich flavour. 
Candied: usually fruit or vegetables, but can also be nuts that are cooked in a hot sugar mixture, to sticky crunchy outer layer. Similar to glazed. 
Compote: KOM-POT chopped fruit such as strawberries, quince or apple cooked in a syrup. Think chunky jam but better. 

Foam.

Compressed: similar to sous vide, but without the application of heat. Fruit or vegetables are packed with a flavoured liquid in a plastic vacuum bag, and left to absorb the juices. 
Confit: KON-FEE cooked in oil or butter at a lower temperatures. Common confit dishes are duck or chicken. 
Crumb: also called a crumble, traditionally a sweet crunchy component of desserts (such as apple crumble) made of flour, butter, oats and sometimes nuts. Can also be savoury. See Soil.
Dashi: a basic stock used in Japanese cooking flavoured with seaweed and bonito fish flakes
Endive: AHN-DEEV a leaf vegetable with a crisp, bitter flavour. 
Espuma: ES-PUMA a fancy word for foam. 

ALSO READ: We researched SA’s top 10 restaurants to find out exactly how much it costs to eat like royalty 

Foam: imagine bubble bath foam, but with flavour. Usually served as a garnish, on the top of fish or vegetable dishes. 
Glazed: any liquid or sauce that adds a glossy outer layer. Examples: glazed donut or glazed carrots. 
Granita: GRAH-NEE-TAH a frozen, flavoured ice often with alcohol as a main ingredient, that is shaved to resemble a fancy slushy. 
Kimchi: a Korean preserve made of fermented asian cabbage flavoured with chilli, ginger and garlic. 
Puree: a smooth paste, often of starchy vegetables such as butternut, carrot or parsnip. Think baby food, but with a french twist. 
Tartare: a chopped and seasoned preparation of raw red meat or fish. Not to be confused with tartar sauce, the mayonnaise and gherkin based sauce served with fish and chips. 
Soil: an edible fine crumb or dust, flavoured and used to add texture and crunch to a dish. Not actual dirt. 

Endive.

Sous vide: SOO-VEED a popular cooking technique where food (usually proteins) are vacuum packed in a plastic enclosure and simmered in a water bath at low temperatures for extended periods. 
Snow: another word for granita. 
Tuiles: TWEEL a thin wafer type biscuit that can be sweet or savoury 
Veloute: VAH-LOO-TAY a classic basic french creamy sauce that is made from butter, flour and light stock. 
Wagyu: WAH-GYOO a premium breed of beef, that is loved for its rich flavour or ‘marbling’ 

ALSO READ: What is wagyu beef and why the hefty price tag?

Read more on: restaurant guide  |  fine dining  |  hacks
 

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