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Preliminary preparation of food is very essential to prepare healthy delicious dishes. The efficiency of a cook depends on how he/she organizes work in the kitchen. If pre-preparation is thoroughly and systematically done then the service will be carried out smoothly.
A good chef takes pride in the thoroughness and quality of the pre- preparation or mise-en -place (pro-nounced meez-on-plahss). This French term meaning “everything put in place,” has become almost a professional pass-word in kitchen, because it is important for the success of the establishment.
Pre-preparation saves time and energy. The following steps should be fol-lowed before the actual cooking.
· Assemble tools required.
· Collect ingredients needed for cooking
· Wash, trim, cut, prepare, and measure raw materials.
· Check equipment before cooking.
a. Cleaning/Washing: All raw ingredients should be washed and cleaned before cooking to ensure microbiological safety of food. All vegetables should be washed thor oughly before peeling or cutting. Dry ingredients like cereals and pulses should be cleaned to remove dirt, stones and foreign matter before cooking.
b. Peeling: Most of the vegetables and fruits are peeled before the preparation of recipe. The outer skin will be peeled using a peeler or knife. Care should be taken to peel the skin very thin because most of the nutrients are under the skin of the fruits and vegetables. Certain vegetables like potatoes can also be peeled after boiling. Tomato skin can be peeled after blanching.
c. Grinding: Grinding reduces the food to a fine form. Dry grinding helps to get masala powders and wet grinding helps to get chutneys and batters for idli, dosai and adai.
d. Grating: Shredding of certain food-stuffs is called grating. Vegetables and fruits can be grated to make salads interest-ing. Cheese can be shredded to decorate the foods prepared.
e. Soaking: Foodstuffs are generally soaked to make them soft as it helps to make cooking faster and grinding easier. Cereals and pulses are soaked for grinding and cooking. It enhances nutritional value and helps in removing the toxic substances. It also saves time and fuel.
f. Germination: Germination is the process of a seed to cause sprout or form new tissue following metabolism. In order to sprout seeds like ragi, green gram, cow pea and bengal gram soak in water for 8 hours and drain water and cover it in a muslin cloth and keep it in the room temperature for another 8 hours. Sprouting of seeds can be seen. This process enhances the nutritive value by increase in vitamin , folic acid and malting of sugar take place.
g. Blanching: Vegetables and fruits are immersed in boiling water for a few min-utes and then in cold water. This is called blanching. Balancing used infood preservation as it inactivates the enzymes that cause food spoilage. This method is also used to loosen the skin of fruits to peel them easily and used for purees and canned foods.
h. Marinating: Food is soaked in a mari-nade to add flavour and tenderize it. A marinade is a combination of oil, flavouring agents and acid. Eg: Meat, fish, and vegetables
Cutting food products into uniform shapes and sizes is important for two reasons:
1. It ensures even cooking.
2. It enhances the appearance of the product
· Brunoise (broon-wahz); Fine dices (3mm × 3mm × 3mm)
Fine dices are used to make soups, usili and fried rice.
Small dice: (6mm × 6mm × 6mm)
Medium dice: (12mm × 12mm × 12mm)
Large dice: (2cm × 2cm × 2cm)
Medium dice are mostly used in the fried items using yam, raw plantain.
Large dice of vegetables are used in the preparation of mourkuzhambu, sambar.
Julienne (or allumette): (3mm × 3mm × 6cm)
Julienne cuts are used in the preparation of salads and noodles
Batonnet: Means little sticks (6mm × 6mm × 6–7.5cm)
Batonnet cuts are used for making fish fingers.
French fries or pommefrite: 8–12mm sq × 7.5cm long.
The following terms describe other cut-ting techniques:
· Chop: to cut into irregular shaped pieces.
Eg: coriander leaves chopped to gar-nish dishes.
· Concasser (con-cass-say): to cut coarsely.
Eg: tomato cuts for thokku.
Mince: to chop into very fine pieces.
Eg: meat for cutlets.
· Shred: to cut into thin strips, either with the coarse blade of a grater or with a knife.
Eg: Cheese is shred to top sandwiches and pizzas.
A complete preliminary pro-cedure is part of the mise-en-place or pre-preparation.
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