The cooking is the process by which a food is processed or modified, on the physicochemical level, under the effect of heat (or radiation can heat).

Cooking changes the taste, the flavor, the appearance, the color, the texture, the volume, the weight, the toxicity or the nutritional quality of the food. It modifies its chemical and physical structure and can thus make it assimilable, nourishing or tastier.

Cooking improves food hygiene: it can destroy germs or parasites present in the food, depending on temperature and the cooking method.

Cooking environments 

Cooking of the food takes place in a liquid medium, a gaseous medium or under vacuum:

  • The gaseous medium can be air dry ( oven , spit , grill ,  etc. ) or wet ( steam ).
  • The liquid may be 1  :
    • an aqueous medium ( water , syrup , wine , milk , yogurt , broth , broth ,  etc. )
    • a fatty body liquid ( oil ) or solid at room temperature ( fat ).

Cooking residue (liquid or solid) can be consumed ( sauce , soup , broth) or recycled (frying oil).

Food cooking methods 

Bake expansion and concentration by cooking 

Depending on the chosen cooking method, it facilitates the migration of certain compounds made soluble:

  • Either towards the inside of the food
  • Either towards the outside of the food

It is this migration which makes it possible to classify the different types of cooking into three categories:

  • the cooking expansion or dissolution . Example: poaching (in cold starting liquid) for the cooking of dried vegetables, potato bleaching, cooking of poached or short-wet fish. The exchange between the food and the cooking liquid is favored.
  • the cooking by concentration . Example: poaching (in hot liquid) for cooking green vegetables, rice, pasta. But also cook under vacuum, steam, roast, grill, fry, jump, fry. The sudden exposure to heat food causes the surface protein coagulation, formation of starch , carbohydrates caramelization or Maillard reaction (especially when “seized” meat). The nutrients remain partly inside the food.
  • firings combining the two phenomena (expansion and concentration) called mixed cooking . Example: braising and jumping in sauce. First of all, cooking by concentration (when making a stir-fry, the meat is seized first), in a second time expansion (always for making a sauté, the meat is “poached” in the sauce or the juice).

Cooking with browning and cooking without browning

A different typology of cooking classification is now preferred than the one presented above. The cooking modes are classified according to their effect on the physico-chemical transformation of the food.

Cooking with browning 

High temperature
Action Method Definition Cooking vessel Cooking Examples
To roast Roasting Cooking Uncovered Brooch Oven , rotisserie The meat ( kebab , chicken around …) and most root vegetables and bulb vegetables . Cake to the pin .
Stove Stove Cook covered in a hollow container on an aromatic garnish Hermetically sealed hollow container Oven Baeckeoffe
Jump Jumped up Cook quickly on high heat and uncovered in a small amount of fat Necklace , skillet , frying pan , wok Cooker Piece of meat , cutlet breaded omelette
Grill Grill Cook quickly at high heat by heat conduction or radiant heat Thermal Conduction: planks for grilling . Radiant heat: grill, barbecue , salamander Piece of meat, chicken leg, sausage
Fry Frying Cook by immersion in a fatty body carried at high temperature Deep fryer Fried potatoes , fish , donuts
Low temperature
Action Method
Smoking Smoking
Dry Drying
The Confit

Cook without browning 

Action Method Definition Cooking vessel Cooking Examples
Bake in a liquid: Poach Food Bake in cold starting liquid or hot start. Cooker Green vegetables , rice , pasta
Steaming Steaming Bake thanks to the steam of a liquid, especially water, in boiling. Steam oven , steamer Cooking in foil
Cooking under vacuum Vacuum cooking Place a food in a sealed and heat-resistant packaging (bag or tray), remove air and seal it. The cooking is carried out at a temperature of less than 100 ° C. in a moist environment. Steamer
Microwave Microwave Microwave oven

Cooking in combined atmosphere

This method combines the two previous ones:

  • Braise
  • Simmer for casseroles or stir-fried in sauce: it’s cook, covered, slowly and steadily in a linked liquid food cut into pieces and fried previously 2 .

Cultural and dietary aspects 

Claude Levi-Strauss considers cooking to be an act deeply civilizing. 

However, cooking can destroy desirable substances such as certain antioxidants in fruits and vegetables. These valuable protective substances can be inactivated by heat or then escape into the water to be thrown away with cooking water. This is why, in general, it is better to cook the vegetables for only a few minutes and in the least amount of water possible.

The tomato is a special case. We can eat raw to enjoy the vitamin C it contains in abundance and is very sensitive to heat. However, we must not reject the tomato sauce , the concentrated or ketchup because their lack of vitamin C is compensated by other antioxidants . For example, the lycopene content in the tomatoes becomes more easily absorbable by the body with cooking.

However, vegetables such as broccoli , a cauliflower or carrots are extremely sensitive to heat. It is better to eat them raw, or barely whitened and still crunchy.

These recommendations – do not always cook; Use as little water as possible; reduce cooking time – are compatible with respect for the environment as well as energy savings .