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Cook with water: how to boil, stew, drown – Italian Cuisine

Do not just throw the food in a pot with water: pasta and vegetables, meat and fish should be treated according to simple rules. but precise, which gastronomic science has developed. To keep the flavors and textures intact, damaging the nutritive principles to a minimum

Water is a precious ally in the kitchen and not only because it allows us to maintain the right consistency in food during the preparation, but above all because it offers us various cooking possibilities. Here is one mini guide to boil, stew and drown knowing the techniques.

Cooking with water: a bit of science

In lessatura the energy to cook is transferred from a heat source to the food through a convection liquid (for nothing or little fat). This yields heat quickly and continuously, while one takes place juice exchange between the liquid and the food. In boiling the proteins coagulate, the starches swell, the cellulose, the muscles and the cartilages are softened, the albumins coagulate, the jellies dissolve, some vitamins lose effectiveness, the salts are dispersed in the liquid.

Boiling or cold water?

To contain the exchange of juices and keep pasta, rice, vegetables and meat more intact and rich in substance, boil them by immersing them in boiling water. Instead, to boil potatoes and other roots, legumes and molluscs, we start from cold water: so the foods will give away their substances and absorb those of the liquid in a progressive and effective way. Short times to reduce the dispersion of salts and vitamins to a minimum cook the vegetables for as short as possible.

Boil the white vegetables

A cooking water slightly acidto keep the vegetables firm. However, as it alters the color of green ones, it is advisable to use it only for white ones. To acidulate the water you can use the lemon: for 1 liter of water, 2 washers or wedges (do not change the taste) or 1 tablespoon of juice. Lemon is fine for cauliflower (mitigates the smell), white celery, celeriac and fennel. A slight acidity also helps to liven up the white color. Dive the vegetables in boiling water and, once cooked, drain and distribute them well spread on a tray: they cool down more quickly maintaining the right consistency. Whole potatoes with peel should be boiled from cold, non-acidic water. Some vegetables darken easily during and after cooking: to eliminate this risk and preserve a more attractive color, just add it to the water 3-4 tablespoons of milk for 1 liter. Enriching the water with extra virgin olive oil "protection" against oxidation is even more effective.

Boil the green vegetables

Because they maintain a beautiful bright green color, the ideal would be to cook them green vegetables in alkaline water (it is obtained by adding bicarbonate). But so the tissues become flabby and break easily, because the substances that give consistency to the vegetables (hemicellulose and pectin) dissolve. To solve this inconvenience, green vegetables are boiled in very abundant water is you do not put the lid on in the first few minutes of boiling: in this way the acid substances released by the vegetables, responsible for the alteration of the color, are dispersed in the water and in the air.

Boil and stew green leafy vegetables

Spinach, herbs, lettuces for their lightness they are among the most delicate vegetables to boil: they immediately pass by cooking and tend to tear. More resistant cabbages and leaves of the coasts, which must be separated by large petioles (to be boiled like other white vegetables, in water acidulated with lemon). Even more than the other green vegetables, the leaves must be boiled in a lot of waterthis facilitates the dispersion of substances that weaken their consistency. Alternatively, the leaves are cold in the pot with the little dripping water, enough to make them stew: they lose brilliance, but they acquire taste and richness.


Sear the vegetables for a very short time in boiling water serves to prepare them better for further cooking or storage (1-2 'for peeled potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower broth, 1' for courgettes and mushrooms), to soften or soften them (30 "for leafy vegetables), to peel them (30 "-1" for tomatoes or peaches, 1-2 'for pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts).

Boil the pasta

The pasta releases into the water starch which, if too concentrated, causes it to break and prevents a good cooking. The water must therefore be very abundant: 6-700 g per 100 g of pasta is the minimum dose (ideal 1 liter of water per 100 g of pasta). The larger the pasta size, the more water it serves. Salt slows its boiling: add salt to the boil.

Boil the legumes

After the necessary soaking, the dried vegetables are put in the pot covered with a double volume of water and are made simmer until they become tender, salting them only towards the end. In a pressure cooker, calculate more or less 700 g of water per 100 g of beans. Boil them for 40 'from the whistle of the valve.

Boil the fish

Prepare a court-bouillon: collect celery, carrot, onion and leeks in rounds, bay leaf and parsley in half, filled with water. Add a dash of white wine (for sea fish), vinegar (for large sea fish), milk (for eels and carp). Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Then arrange the whole fish, gutted and scaled, on the grid of the fish and drop it in the court-bouillon. Boil it for about twenty minutes or more according to size; adjust the fire so that the water never takes a boil, but settles on a very delicate quiver, swithout exceeding 80 ° C: so the flesh of the fish will remain succulent and intact without breaking down. Keep the partially covered fish-pot during cooking. Finally remove the fish carefully from the fish tank by lifting the grill. Particularly large fish must be immersed in the still cold court-bouillon.

Boil the molluscs

Collect the cleaned molluscs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring them on the fire, cover them and, from the rising of the boil, boil them on the medium-low flame (3-4 'for the squids, 15' for the cuttlefish, 18-20 'for the octopus). By gradually heating up their tenacious fibers become more tender.

Boil the meat

In a large pot filled with water for 2/3 add an onion, a carrot, a stem of celery to touch, 2 bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves, 200 g of white wine, a little salt. For the stock, add the meat cold and bring to the heat: gradually the meat will give the stock a large part of its substances. cook with a shudder to prevent the broth from becoming cloudy. For boiled meat, boil the water with the aromas for 30 minutes at least, then add the meat: this limits the loss of its juices. Boil half-covered with quivering water (90 ° c) so as not to make the meat stringy.

Stew the rice

For the same reasons as pasta, rice also usually cooks in boiling water. It can however be done also stew with a little water: add 3 parts of cold water, a part of rice, a pinch of salt and turn on the heat in a saucepan. When you are boiling, cover the flame to the minimum and cook the rice for half the time indicated for boiling. Then let it rest for as long without removing the lid. since in this way the rice absorbs all the cooking water, there will be no dispersion of nutrients.

Drown: fish, meat, eggs

It is one of the most delicate cooking, in which it is used very little liquid at a temperature of 80-85 ° C, which must never reach boiling point. For this reason it is suitable for fish fillets, white meats, eggs and quenelle, which will remain intact and particularly succulent. Place the fish and herbs to taste in a buttered oven dish. Pour cold water and a little white wine in order to cover the bottom well. Protect with wet baking paper and squeezed and bake at 120 ° c for 6-12 ', depending on the thickness of the fillets.

Texts by Walter Pedrazzi and Maria Vittoria from the Cia

Gordon Ramsay’s Sea Bass with Pepper Sauce

This wonderful looking Sea Bass dish was prepared by Gordon Ramsay on his hit show The F Word[1]. Read through my estimated ingredients quantities and instructions, then feel free to watch the video at the end to get a clearer idea of how to prepare this delightful meal.


  • Filet of Sea Bass
  • Bell Pepper – 1 large red and 1 large yellow, or several of both
  • Shallots – 3
  • Star Anise – 3
  • White Wine Vinegar – 1 1/2 Tbs
  • Vermouth – 2 Tbs
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Thyme Sprig leaves
  • Salt
  • Fresh Basil – 1 very large sprig, or two smaller ones
  • Water

Directions for the Sauce:

Julienne the bell pepper, do the same with the shallots. Heat olive oil in a hot pan, then add the peppers and shallots, add star anise and a pinch of salt. Stir well and cook for several minutes until the peppers are beginning to soften up. Add the basil whole, and pour in the white wine vinegar and vermouth. Reduce for several minutes over moderate heat until liquid is mostly absorbed. Add enough water to the pan to cover the peppers half way. Bring to a boil and simmer until liquid is about half gone. Carefully add all of the ingredients to a blender and liquify. Be sure to hold the lid on the blender. Many of my readers discovered when making another Chef Ramsay dish which required a blender that it’s helpful to hold the lid on with a dry towel (no burns, no messes).

Directions for the Fish:

Lay the fish on a cutting board skin side up. Score the fish every half inch along the length of the filet. Add salt and thyme leaves to the inside of each score, then drizzle with olive oil. You can now lovingly hold and caress the filet in your hands if you’re as crazy as Chef Ramsay about food, if not, you can skip the caressing (see the video if you want to know what I mean, that man loves food!).

Heat olive oil in a hot pan and add the fish, skin side down. Hold the fish down with your fingers for 30 seconds to prevent curling. Ninety percent of the cooking will take place with the skin side down. Watch the fish and turn it when most of the meat has turned a bright white. Finish up cooking and remove from heat.

Serving Instructions:

Pour the sauce onto a plate with a large enough lip to hold the sauce – fill the bottom of the plate. Add cooked Sea Bass, skin side up. Drizzle olive into the sauce circling the fish. DONE.



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Poached Egg on Toast

Poached Egg on Toast

by Pam on September 1, 2014

I finally did it! It took three attempts but I really did it! What you ask? I poached an egg in simmering water with a bit of vinegar and no poaching cup. This may not be a big deal to some, but it is to me. For some reason this technique of egg poaching has always intimidated me so I just used poaching cups. I am so glad I finally faced my poaching fear and did it. The egg turned out perfect! I think I actually did a little dance in my kitchen when I lifted the lid on my third attempt and it worked!

Combine 1 1/2 inches water and vinegar in a wide medium sized saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Break 1 egg into a small bowl. Once the water is at a simmer, stir the water with the bottom of your slotted spoon clockwise to make a swirling motion in the water. Quickly and carefully slide egg into the water. Cover and turn stove off. Poach until whites are firm and yolks are still runny, 3 minutes and 45 seconds. Remove the egg using a slotted spoon and drain a bit over the pan. Place onto a piece of buttered toast then season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Serve immediately. Enjoy!



Poached Egg on Toast

Yield: 1

Cook Time: 3 minutes 45 seconds


Water in pan (1 1/2 inches deep)
1 tsp white vinegar
1 egg
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1 slice of buttered toast


Combine 1 1/2 inches water and vinegar in a wide medium sized saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Break 1 egg into a small bowl. Once the water is at a simmer, stir the water with the bottom of your slotted spoon clockwise to make a swirling motion in the water. Quickly and carefully slide egg into the water. Cover and turn stove off. Poach until whites are firm and yolks are still runny, 3 minutes and 45 seconds. Remove the egg using a slotted spoon and drain a bit over the pan. Place onto a piece of buttered toast then season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Recipe and photos by For the Love of


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