A complete guide to Cairns Restaurants

Cairns Dining Articles

Basic Dining Dictionary

Some Cairns restaurants like to use proper culinary language on their menus to indicate their sophistication and understanding of the cuisine they are preparing. This is commendable, but the dining layman can end up confused and unsure of what has been ordered.

Coagulated cardoon with Madras-style cowpeas.
Aled beef topped with emulsified potato crock, complemented by California Viognier.

Ok, whatever. Have you got steak with mash?

This basic dining dictionary is an attempt to shed some light on common cooking procedures so you have a better idea of what you’re ordering at a fine dining restaurant in Cairns.

The meats

The most popular methods for cooking meats (beef, lamb, pork, chicken, and some seafood) are frying, grilling, roasting and searing.

  • Frying is the process of cooking meat in hot oil. It is a delicious way to cook meat, albeit not the healthiest.
    • Sautéing, stir-frying, pan-frying and deep-frying are all variations on this basic frying theme. Sautéing uses a small amount of fat in an open pan over high heat. The meat is cut into small pieces and flipped frequently to prevent burning. This is a fast way to cook meat.
    • Stir-fry is similar to sautéing, but used a wok instead of a pan. The wok, with high curved sides, is able to hold more ingredients and can distribute heat around a great surface area.
    • Pan-frying is similar to sautéing, but the meat is first dipped in whisked egg and rolled in breadcrumbs. This locks in the moisture and prevents the cooking fat from penetrating the meat.
    • Deep-frying is the unhealthiest of all the frying methods because it uses the most fat. However, this sometimes results in a very tasty meat dish. The meat is entirely submerged in boiling fat, and cooks quickly.
  • Grilling commonly takes place on a barbeque, or large flat grill-like surface. The heat source comes from below the meat, and a small amount of oil is used. This is similar to frying, but grilling results in crosshatch patterns of the hot grill irons across the surface of the meat.
  • Roasting and baking are used to describe cooking in a closed, heated area. The meat is often a large section like a whole chicken rather than small pieces. It sits in a pan and requires more cooking time than frying or grilling.
  • Searing is a step taken prior to frying, grilling or roasting. The meat is placed over extremely hot heat so the outside layer can be browned. This browning process seals in the natural sugars and juices, so the meat retains its moisture and flavours while being cooked by one of the other methods.

The vegetables

Vegetables will have a distinct texture and taste according to the preparation and cooking process. There are three general ways to prepare vegetables.

  • Dicing is the process of cutting vegetables into small cubes. The width of the cubes ranges from 5 cm to 12 cm.
  • Chopping is less precise, and hence faster, than dicing. It refers to cutting vegetables into small pieces where uniformity of shape and size are of no importance.
  • To julienne vegetables is to cut them into small sticks. This is not a common procedure, but you’ll know it when you see it on the menu.

Almost all vegetables can be cooked using the methods described above for meats. However, there are some exclusive vegetable-cooking methods.

  • Blanching is submerging vegetables in boiling water for a short period of time, usually no more than a few seconds.
  • Boiling is submerging vegetables in boiling water until they are cooked. It is useful for harder vegetables like potatos and carrots.
  • Steaming vegetables is where the vegetables are suspended above boiling water rather than submerged in it.
  • Steaming cooks the vegetables slightly so they retain their colour, flavour and freshness.

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