Dining In 1 minute 04 July 2018

Technique Thursday: What Is Braising?

Using both dry and wet heat to braise food in liquid produces flavoursome dishes with minimal effort.

Braising is a true work of magic in the kitchen. It is a technique that requires so little, yet delivers so much.

The term “braising” originates from the French word “braiser” and is a combination of cooking methods using both dry and wet heat. Usually, the main ingredient is cooked at a high temperature, before it is finished in a covered pot at a lowered temperature while simmering in a partial amount of liquid, which may also add flavour to the food. The best equipment to use would be a pressure cooker or crock pot.

By doing so, affordable cuts of tough meats are able to absorb the salt from the liquid, which breaks down the connective tissues (collagen) in the tough cuts, leaving them tender and succulent.
Braising leaves meat soft and succulent. (SOURCE: SHUTTERSTOCK)
Braising leaves meat soft and succulent. (SOURCE: SHUTTERSTOCK)
Some iconic braised dishes include pot roast and beef stew, which are much loved for being simple and yet flavourful, making them ideal for family dinners that are easy to prepare.

At Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant, various dishes are braised in the Flavours of Jiang Nan menu, such as braised yam, braised “mee hoon” and braised fish maw.
Braising is a slow process which can take hours. (SOURCE: SHUTTERSTOCK)
Braising is a slow process which can take hours. (SOURCE: SHUTTERSTOCK)
Si Chuan Dou Hua’s chef Leung Wing Chung spends time to slowly braise his pork ribs for up to an hour, while beef tendons take three hours. This long cooking process yields a tender texture, with the meat falling off the bone, as well as brings out the flavours of the dishes. A good soup stock also helps to deepen the flavours.

For home cooking, he advises that if one does not have stock on hand, water can be used, coupled with seasonings like salt and soya sauce to enhance the flavour. Some seafood with higher water content can be braised on its own, by simmering until the water content is fully absorbed to successfully achieve a savoury dish characteristic of the braising technique.

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