The most common way to scald or blanch food is to immerse it in boiling water for a short period of time ranging from 10 seconds to 3 minutes maximum (for small and not very hard vegetables), depending on the type of food to be cooked. (For more information on the exact cooking time of vegetables, see the references). Steam scald is also possible. In this way, food will be exposed to hot steam, which allows all the nutrients to be better preserved, as they do not come into direct contact with the water.
Scalding is used for the following purposes:
To easily remove the peel from some vegetables such as tomatoes or dried fruits,
To clean the surface of food better and to preserve and enhance, for example, the green colour of vegetables,
To reduce and soften the bitter taste of some vegetables,
To reduce the salt content of certain cured or dried meats,
To freeze vegetables. It is important to scald vegetables before freezing them because this prevents them from oxidation when they come into contact with the air oxygen.
To scald the following steps must be followed:
Fill a container with water and bring it to boil.
When the water is boiling, introduce the food for a few seconds (or a few minutes, depending on the type of food).
After this time, remove the food and place it under very cold water, or even in a container with water and ice to stop the cooking very quickly.
Once they are cold, they can be peeled, cooked or frozen.
When steaming the food, the procedure should be the same, except for the step of immersing the food in boiling water (exposing them to the hot steam, without immersing them in water).
In order to be poached, the food is immersed in a liquid (water, broth or milk) which can be hot or cold, but unlike scalding, the food is cooked without reaching boiling point (around 80-90°).
Poaching is most commonly used with beef, veal, lamb and poultry, but also with fish, and of course with eggs. As the pieces are larger and harder than vegetables, the cooking time will be much longer, being around 15 minutes (per kilo) for a whole fish and around 45 minutes to an hour (per kilo) for whole, bone-in meats.) In the case of poached eggs, 3 or 4 minutes will be enough to get them perfect. A trick is to add a spoonful of vinegar so that the egg white does not spread all over the water and to use a spatula to wrap the egg white around the yolk. You can also stir the water in circles and pour the egg in, the movement of the water will cause the egg white to curl around the yolk. (You can see an explanatory video in the references).
In this unit two new culinary techniques that allow food to be processed by boiling will be introduced: scalding and poaching.
One of the main advantages of scalding is that we can buy fresh vegetables without having to eat them in the same day. We can scald them, freeze them, and eat them whenever we want. This way we will eat natural and very soft vegetables, much better than buying them frozen in a supermarket. Vegetables will be healthier if we also scald them by steaming them because they will not lose their vitamins and nutrients.
Poaching is a very good culinary technique to prevent meat and fish from losing their juices and when applied to eggs, it gives them a unique texture.