The whole lamb, mutton or pork loin (before the carcase is halved).
The most expensive spice in the world fortunately goes a long way; derived from the stamens of the saffron crocus, it can be used either whole or in powdered form, giving a distinctive flavour and yellow colour to Spanish paella and Italian risotto. It is
A perennial broad-leaved herb that is widely cultivated for its leaves which have an aromatic, slightly bitter flavour and are used for flavouring fatty meats (such as pork), stuffings, marinades, certain cheeses and various drinks
A starch made from the pith of the sago palm, used to make puddings.
A salamander is a commercial grill that can be heated to very high temperatures. It is used by professional cooks for glazing, browning or caramelising savoury or sweet dishes.
A sausage made from a mixture of raw meat such as pork, beef or veal and flavoured with spices and herbs; salamis can be salted, smoked or air-dried and are found all over the world.
Spicy, thick, cold relish made from tomatoes, chillis and fruit, usually used as a dip.
Salsify is a root vegetable. There is a black-skinned variety with white flesh sometimes called scorzonera, and a white salsify, sometimes called oyster plant. The delicate flavour is similar to asparagus. Best cooked simply – boiled or poached and served
Crystals used as a seasoning and preservative. One of the major taste groups. Available as sea salt or rock salt, which is then further refined for cooking salt and table salt.
- Salt cod
Dried, salted cod which needs to be de-salted and rehydrated before use. Popular in French, Spanish and Portuguese cuisines
A dish consisting of rolled pieces of veal or poultry, cooked with herbs, bacon and other flavourings. The word comes from the Italian for ‘leap into the mouth’.
A side dish served with Indian, Indonesian and Malayan food. A sambal is served in small portions, or in a small bowl, with the main dish.
A colourless Italian liqueur flavoured with aniseed. It is drunk with one or two coffee beans floating in the glass, after it has been flamed. Sambuca is very strong but has a sweetish taste.
A deep-fried Indian pastry stuffed with spiced vegetables or meat, usually triangular in shape.
Also known as glasswort or pickle-plant, this fleshy-leaved green plant grows on seaside marshes. Its flavour is salty and it has a crisp, interesting texture. Use it fresh in salads or serve it with fish, simply boiled and dipped in melted butter and eat
Sangri this is a bean-like vegetable. Regarded as a delicacy, it is usually stored after it is dried.
Spanish drink of red wine with fruit, mineral water and spices added.
Sardines are baby pilchards – an oil-rich fish. Sardines are sold whole, fresh or frozen while pilchards are mainly processed and canned. Ideal fish for grilling and barbecuing when whole.
Japanese dish of raw fish and shellfish served with dipping sauces and vegetables
The leaves of the sassafras tree are used in making traditional gumbo.
Pieces of meat or fish skewered and grilled, then served with spiced sauce.
Long, crisp, Italian-style ladyfingers; usually layered with a moist filling to soften them, as in tiramisu.
Shellfish with a delicate taste available in a range of sizes. Scallops can be steamed, fried or grilled but should be cooked gently. The flesh is firm and white, the coral (or roe) is orange or pale red in colour.
Thin slices of veal or pork 3 to 5 mm (i to 1 inch) thick dipped in flour, egg and finally dried breadcrumbs. The meat is refrigerated to allow the crumbs to set before being shallow-fried.
A small, rounded cake that can be sweet, often served with clotted cream and jam, or savoury, used as an accompaniment to other meals.
To make a shallow diamond-shaped pattern or parallel incisions in the outer fat layer of lamb or mutton or the rind of pork to improve the appearance and to facilitate carving.
- Scotch bonnet
Very hot, small chilli, similar to the habanero. After preparing chillis, it is very important to avoid contact with the eyes or any sensitive skin – even washing the hands may not be enough to remove all the capsaicin, the volatile oil in the fruit that
Cut of lamb from the neck, used in casseroles and stews.
- Sea bream
White fish with a number of varieties available, sold whole or as fillets. Coarse, succulent flesh ideal for grilling, baking and frying.
To brown the surface of meat very quickly by intense heat.
A very coarse flour used to make pizza and bread. Also refers to rounded parts of wheat used to make a pudding of the same name.
A coarse, sandlike grind of durum wheat, used to make pasta and some breads.
Cut of beef from the foreleg, used for casseroles and stews.
A sweet biscuit, fairly dense and rich in butter. Eaten on its own or used as a base for tarts.
- Shortcrust pastry
Probably the most useful and versatile pastry, shortcrust is a crumbly pastry that is ideal for pies and pasties.
To open an oyster shell with a small, thick-bladed knife
- Sichuan pepper
Sichuan or anise pepper is actually not pepper but the very hot and peppery dried red berries of a type of ash tree.
To press ingredients, such as flour or confectioners’ sugar, through a sifter or sieve. Sifting incorportates air and removes lumps, which helps ingredients to combine more easily.
Cut of beef from the rear of the animal, used for boiling, stews, casseroles and mince.
To cook in gently bubbling liquid kept just below boiling point.
- Simnel cake
Now an Easter cake, this was originally given by servant girls to their mothers when they went home on Mothering Sunday.
A small piece of toast or fried bread used as a garnish.
Premium cut of beef from the back, sold as roasting joints and fillet steaks.
To remove the fat or scum that floats on top of a liquid during the cooking process. A metal skimmer, kitchen paper, absorbent paper or ice cubes can be used.
To mix a thickening agent with liquid, eg cornflour, arrowroot.
An assortment of hot and cold dishes served in Sweden as hors d’oeuvres or a full buffet meal. It should not just simply be a few salmon canapes, cold meats and cheese but a vast buffet from which guests serve themselves
A non-alcoholic cold drink made up of a mixture of the juices and pulp of fruit or vegetables blitzed into a smooth drink.
- Soba noodles
Japanese noodles made from buckwheat.
- Soft peaks
When cream or egg whites are beaten until they stand in peaks that bend over at the top.
A semi-frozen water ice, usually made with fruit or a liqueur, and eaten as a palate cleanser between courses, or as a dessert.
Sorrel comes in several varieties, including wild sorrel and French sorrel.
A light, well-puffed egg dish which may be either sweet or savoury.
- Soy sauce
A condiment made from fermented soya beans and salt which forms a basic ingredient in both Japanese and Chinese cooking.
- Soy sauce:
A highly flavoured brown liquid made from fermented soya beans.
Spelt is an ancient cereal grain that has a mellow nutty flavour.
- Sprue asparagus
The thinnings or first pickings of the asparagus bed which have a good flavour – and should be cheaper than asparagus proper.
A sea mollusc related to the cuttlefish, also known as calamari. Squid can be grilled or fried and larger squid can be added to stews or cooked in their own ink
- Star anise
Also known as carambola, this yellow fruit becomes a five-pointed star when sliced widthways. Star fruits have a slightly sweet and sour taste, so are often used more for decoration in fruit salads.
- Star Anise
A star-shaped spice with eight points, each containing a seed. Has a licorice flavor.
- Star anise:
A popular seasoning in Chinese cooking.
- Steak tartare
Raw, finely chopped seasoned beef, traditionally served topped with a raw egg yolk and accompanied by small bowls of chopped onions and capers.
To extract color, flavor, or other qualities from a substance by leaving it in liquid just below the boiling point.
- Stiff peaks
When cream or egg whites are beaten until they stand in firm peaks that hold their shape.
A flavoured liquid base for making a sauce, stew or braised dish. Made by simmering beef, chicken or fish with vegetables, aromatic ingredients and water. Vegetable stock simply misses out the meat.
Austrian sweet made from very thin layers of pastry wrapped round fruit, most famously apple. A savoury version can also be made.
Thick paste made from dry ingredients like herbs, breadcrumbs and nuts, bound together with egg. Can be used to stuff the inside of roast meats or baked separately and served as an accompaniment
To cook vegetables very slowly in a little fat and their own steam so they soften but do not brown.
- Sweet chestnut
The fruit of the sweet chestnut tree that is edible when cooked. Often roasted and eaten whole, or added to other dishes such as stuffing. Can also be ground to make flour. Chestnuts make a good accompaniment to Brussels sprouts and are served with many w
- Sweet potato
Root vegetable that resembles a potato, but is quite different. Often pinkish in colour, the sweet potato can be cooked in a variety of ways – though it is often baked.
The thymus gland of a young animal, usually a calf, although sometimes the pancreatic gland is sold instead. Cooked sweetbreads are light pink in colour.
English dessert made of whipped cream, white wine and sugar, usually infused with lemon. Syllabub dates back to the time of Elizabeth I.