For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.
Watch this video to learn how to blanch and shock, two cooking processes used most often with vegetables.
Blanching is basically boiling salted water, submerging a vegetable into that salted water, and cooking it until it's done; you would taste it at that point and see if it's done. And then you could shock it in an ice water bath. An ice water bath will do two things: it will help to stop the cooking process of the vegetable, and it will also help to retain the color of the green vegetable.
What this cooking technique does is give you a head start in the kitchen. It enables you to cook a vegetable, stop the cooking of the vegetable, and then when your guests come over, you're ready to just briefly reheat the vegetable, and plate it, and serve it as is.
Here at the Culinary Institute we do a nice ratio: one gallon of water to one ounce of salt. When we have a rolling boil, so I can see the movement of the water, we go ahead and we add the salt in to the water - so the salt's going to dissolve - and at the same time I get my broccoli right in. I use a slotted spoon so I can get the water in between and completely submerge the broccoli.
Cooking time varies between different vegetables; the cooking time in green beans is going to be faster than the cooking time in this broccoli. My best tip for you is to taste it. Do you like it? Is it too crunchy, or is it too soft? This is where your own intuition has to come in. Some people like crunchy vegetables, and other people just like vegetables that are a little bit overcooked at this point.
So the broccoli is definitely going to take a little bit longer, because of the stem, and because it is a little bit denser.
So you're going to take this broccoli out, let that excess hot water drip back into the pot, and then you go straight into your ice water bath. There's plenty of room here for that broccoli to be completely submerged by the ice water bath. You want to make sure it's completely cold all the way through.
I just want to show you the color: beautiful, isn't it?
Now you take out your vegetable, fish out the ice cubes, and you're in good shape. That color is beautiful.