Cooking Tip Thursdays is dedicated to making time in the kitchen quicker, easier, and just plain better….
While blanch and shock may sound a lot like shock and awe, this pre-cooking method is quite the opposite. Blanching and shocking is a time saver, color enhancer, and all around nifty cooking technique. To blanch is to cook an item (usually non-starchy vegetables and herbs) partially and very briefly in salted boiling water to improve color and flavor, loosen peels (esp. tomatoes) and pre-cook items that require further cooking right before serving. To shock is to plunge blanched food into ice water to stop the cooking and lock in the nutrients. This process is especially helpful when you’re entertaining as you can
prepare hours in advance and reheat just before your guests arrive. It’s also a great way to bring out the deep, rich color of vegetables you want to serve not quite raw (i.e. crudités). Blanching will enhance the chlorophyll of green vegetables and the carotenoids in yellow/orange vegetables, leaving you with bright and vibrant colored veggies. You’ll love the difference this short technique makes in the efficiency and presentation of your food. And the whole process takes less than 5 minutes!
Blanch: Bring salted water in a pot to a rolling boil. Drop your vegetables in, uncovered, for approximately 45 seconds. This will not only heighten color, but also remove bitter flavors. Plus, since the total time spent in water is minimal, water-soluble vitamins (B and C) will not be lost.
Shock: Immediately plunge just-blanched vegetables into an ice filled bowl of water: this halts the cooking process and sets the color. As soon as the vegetable is cold, drain and let dry, or you will end up with soggy vegetables.
* Blanching/Shocking is also a great pre-cooking method for pasta.