Different cooking methods

Published by Rédac Teemix
Published on 31 October 2008

It’s impossible that barbecuing produces the same calorie content as frying, or that roast chicken has the same taste as a chicken en papillote. Each method of cooking has its own characteristics, its advantages and its disadvantages, in terms of taste and nutritional benefits.

Cooking = change
All forms of cooking bring about chemical change. The most well known effect is the loss of vitamins, but heat also causes food to lose water and mineral salts. The dehydration effect is also harmful in nutritional terms: pasta and rice lose 2/3 of their protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. But heat can also have the opposite effect: it enriches cooked meat with protein, on the plus side, and fat on the down side. As for vitamins, recent research has shown that for some vegetables like broccoli, cooking can activate vitamins that were dormant. Alternate cooked and raw foods in your diet to benefit from all the nutritional benefits and flavours.

> Cooking in water

Which foods? Carbs, pulses and legumes (lentils, chickpeas), fish, meat and poultry.

Method

You can cook food straight in cold water and bring it to the boil, or wait for it to reach the boil before you start to cook. In both cases, it’s advisable to add salt to the water. If you cook food for too long, it loses its colour, texture and flavour.

Impact on taste

The flavours are preserved if you don't cook the food for too long. You can season it directly in the water with herbs and spices or stock cubes (vegetables, meat or fish).

Nutritional value The longer the cooking, the greater the loss of vitamins and minerals, so cook your food in water that is already boiled and cook your pasta al dente.

> Steaming

Which foods?

Meat, fish and poultry, fruit and vegetables, potatoes and pasta.

Method Several methods exist:
- in a steamer: follow the instructions! Don’t add any ingredients to the water reservoir: add spices, herbs and condiments directly to your food.
- en papillote: take a look at our practical guide on cooking en papillote.
- in a pan: pour in water (3cm), bring to boil and place your food in the basket and cover. Don’t put salt on your food to prevent loss of water.

Impact on taste

This is the cooking method that retains the most flavour! Contrary to belief, steaming doesn't render food tasteless: it's very easy to season steamed food or papillotes with spices, herbs, condiments, olive oil or a spoonful of crème fraiche to add even more taste.

Nutritional value

Steaming is the best cooking method for retaining the most vitamins and minerals. Remember nutritional benefits will depend on what seasoning and sauces you add.


> Microwaving

Which foods?

Anything except oil, which can burn!

Method

Refer to the guide supplied with your model, cover the dish to prevent explosions, and pierce all packaging to let the pressure evacuate.
And of course, never put metal or aluminium plates in the microwave.

Impact on taste Microwaving doesn't bring anything particular in terms of flavour. It’s mostly used to reheat food.

Nutritional value

Destroys vitamins and minerals.


> Roasting

Which foods?

Meat.

Method In the oven, broiler or rotisserie. For optimum crunchiness, soak your meat in oil beforehand. To get a succulent roast chicken, rub the skin with salt before cooking. Use marinades made of oil, herbs and spices. Finally, regularly baste meat while cooking. You can use water, cooking juice or wine for a more flavoured option.

Impact on taste

The added value of this type of cooking is obviously golden and crunchy meat skin, and juice that concentrates inside the meat.

Nutritional value

Destroys vitamins but retains minerals.


> Grilling

Which foods?

Meat and fish.

Method

You can use an oven grill, cast iron grill or barbecue. It’s not necessary to add cooking fat: a little oil is enough to prevent sticking. Take care not to confuse grilling with burning - never grill food for too long and don't grill at an excessively high heat.

Impact on tasteGrilling gives food a very particular, distinctive flavour. Nutritional value

In terms of health grilling is the worst form of cooking. It creates hydrocarbons which are cancerous in the long term, but there’s no need not to use it - just not every day.

> Frying

Which foods?

Fruit, vegetables, meat and fish.

Method

Frying is done in very hot oil, (140 to 180 degrees). Make sure you use frying oil which can stand up to heat (many oils cannot). Filter the oil to remove waste after each use and don’t use the same oil more than 5 times (the oil becomes more toxic the more it is used).

Impact on taste

Everyone loves the taste of crunchy or sweet fried food.

Nutritional value The enemy of dieters. Fried food is very fatty, especially when it is coated with breadcrumbs or batter that absorbs oil like a sponge.
Like grilling, frying also provokes the appearance of cancerous hydrocarbons, and very high heat destroys a huge amount of vitamins. It's hard to resist fries and doughnuts, but keep your fryer for special treats!


> Stewing

Which foods?

Meat.

Method Brown off your meat in a little oil. Once golden, throw away the oil, add water to the meat, cover and leave to cook on low heat. For the liquid, use water flavoured with herbs and spices, alcohol or fruit juice.

Impact on taste

Slow cooking ensures that meat stays very tender and the liquid brings a lot of flavour. They say the longer something is cooked the tastier it is!

Nutritional value

Slow cooking makes meat wonderfully tender and the cooking juices are always tasty too.


With thanks to Editions Eyrolles.

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