One of my favorite cooking techniques is blanching. I’ve mentioned blanching before, but I’ve never fully explained what it is and why I love it so much.
Picture this: You go to a cocktail party and set before you is a vegetable display with dips. There are bright orange carrots, crimson red tomatoes, lemon-yellow peppers, and dull green broccoli. Which one of these doesn’t fit?! This is a perfect example of when blanching can and should be used. The raw state of broccoli (and other green vegetables like string beans and snap peas) is not the most appetizing. Remember – we eat with our eyes too. So how do we correct this? We blanch these green veggies to bring out their brightness.
Blanching literally means “to whiten,” but in cooking it is a technique used to soften food, brighten it, or remove a strong taste from the food. The process of blanching is as follows, demonstrated here with raw broccoli.
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Plunge raw broccoli florets in the boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. (As you can see below, the color of the broccoli is now vibrant green – this happened immediately when placed in the boiling water.)
2. Using tongs, remove the broccoli from the water and plunge in a large bowl of ice water. This is known as “shocking” the vegetable, the purpose of which is to stop the cooking.
3. After a couple of minutes, drain the broccoli and dry off (broccoli holds onto liquid, so squeeze it out!). Transfer to platter to serve.
Blanching makes quite a difference, don’t you think?! Have you ever blanched food before?