Culinary techniques are ways of handling, cooking and preparing food for consumption.
The best ways to preserve the nutritional value of the ingredients you use are steaming, sautéing, en papillote and microwaving. Factors such as temperature, the excess use of fats, the presence of smoke or flames, the excess use of water (overcooking) can have both negative and positive effects on the nutrients you get from your food. Laura González, an expert in nutrition, explains the effects of each:
- Steaming. While there are specific kitchen items that can be used for this type of cooking, steaming can also be done in a covered pot with a few inches of water and a metal colander. Cooking times vary depending on the amount you cook (the smaller the amount, the less the cooking time). This method is best for seafood, fish, potatoes and vegetables.
- En papillote. This method consists of cooking the food in its own juice. Plenty of water is needed for it and it can be used for fish and vegetables. The food is seasoned and covered to prevent the liquids from evaporating. This can be done in the oven, in a pan, on the grill or in the microwave.
- Sautéing. This method uses a pan to cook the food quickly. The food should be finely chopped, allowing it to be stirred and tossed. It involves using high temperatures and short cooking times.
- Frying. This technique consists of forming a crust around the food item, which helps it retain moisture, flavor and its nutritional elements. To prepare this method properly, it is helpful for the food to be cut into small, even and dry pieces.
- Baking. This is a relatively slow method that allows for larger volumes of food to be cooked. The presence of the steam that comes from the food itself, together with changes in temperature (ranging from high to medium), also allows for crusts to form, allowing the food to retain its moisture and stay juicy.
- Microwaving. This is a good method for thawing foods in a fast and sanitary way. It also perfectly preserves flavor and allows for foods to be cooked almost without added fats.
- Skillet. This is a good, fast-cooking option. Use a non-stick pan on high heat. It can be used with all foods, but works especially well with fish, meat and vegetables.
- Charcoal barbeque. This culinary technique should be avoided. If it is used, try to only do so a few times a year.