When grilling food, the heat source comes from the bottom. Think cooking a steak on a grill — the heat only comes from the coals underneath the grate. Grilling usually involves an open flame, but can also be done with a grill pan on a stovetop. Foods are cooked by heating the grill grates, which gives ingredients the charred, grilled lines.
Pan-frying is done by adding enough fat to a hot pan so that the fat comes up about half an inch up the side of the pan. Food is partially submerged in the fat and then flipped over so the other side can cook. An example is a crabcake, which is cooked until golden brown on one side and then turned over so the other side can brown.
Deep-frying is when food is completely submerged in a hot fat. The result is a crispy, golden brown exterior and a fully cooked interior.
Sautéed foods are cooked in a thin layer of fat over medium-high heat, usually in a frying pan on the stovetop. Foods are just cooked until tender.
Typically, foods are boiled in water, which reaches a boil at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Foods are completely submerged in the boiling liquid and cooked until tender, then drained.
Roasting is generally the same as baking, but refers more to proteins and vegetables. Roasting is common to do in the oven and items are cooked until golden brown and tender. The most common item that's roasted is a turkey on Thanksgiving.
Baking is similar to roasting, but refers more to breads, pastries, and other sweet items. Most items are baked in the oven until cooked through.
Searing is done with minimal amounts of fat over high heat. Searing foods gives them a brown, caramelized outside, while not cooking the interior fully. Think searing a thin piece of fish so that is has crispy skin and a delicate, tender inside.
To poach food, it should be completely submerged in liquid that is between 160 and 180 degrees. The food item remains in the liquid until fully cooked through and tender.
When simmering food, it is usually cooked with a liquid in a pot on the stovetop. It is done over low heat and tiny bubbles should appear on the surface.
Broiling is similar to grilling, except the heat source comes from the top. It is usually done in an oven by adjusting the setting to broil. Broiling happens very quickly and it’s best to watch the food carefully when broiling so it does not burn. Getting the cheese on top of lasagna golden brown and crispy is an example of broiling.
To cook an ingredient with steam, food is usually placed in a separate steamer over hot liquid. The food is cooked by the steam from the liquid and does not come in contact with the liquid.
Blanching is similar to boiling, except the food is par-cooked and then submerged immediately in an ice-bath to stop the cooking process.
Braising is a combination cooking method that first involves sautéing or searing an item, then simmering it in liquid for a long cooking period until tender. Foods that are braised are often larger proteins like pot roasts and poultry legs.
Stewing is similar to braising because the ingredient is first seared and then cooked in liquid, but it uses smaller ingredients like diced meats and vegetables.