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Cooking Dictionary - "N"

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Naan - a white flour Indian flat bread. It is one of the most loved Indian breads. A trip to an Indian restaurant usually involves the ordering of some kind of Naan. It is traditionally made in a brick and clay tandoor oven. Traditionally served as an accompaniment with an Indian curry, Naan's can also be used to wrap seasoned grilled meats, seafood, or vegetables. A naan should be served hot and eaten immediately or else it tends to get chewy.

Nabo - [Spanish] turnip.

Nachos - [Spanish] tortilla chips that are topped with cheese, chiles, etc., then heated until the cheese melts; originated in El Paso, Texas.

Nage - An aromatic broth in which crustaceans are cooked. The shellfish is then served with this broth. The most notable of these dishes is lobster la nage.

Nam Pla - See "Fish Sauce."

Nantua - A name given to dishes containing crayfish. This includes crayfish tails and sauces made with a crayfish fumet.

Napa cabbage - Sometimes called Chinese celery cabbage. Found in many supermarkets and Oriental markets.

Naranja agria - [Spanish] sour orange.

Naranja dulce - [Spanish] sweet orange.

Naranjas - [Spanish] oranges.

Natilla - [Spanish] custard dessert; similar to floating island, with stiffly beaten egg whites layered on top of an egg custard; often accompanied with fresh or poached fruits.

Navarin - French stew made with mutton or lamb and onions, turnips, potatoes, and herbs.

Nesselrode - A mixture of candied fruit, nuts and cherries used in desserts.

Nasturtium - See "Indian cress."

Navarin - A stew of browned lamb.

Nectarine - A smooth-skinned variety of the peach family.

Negro - [Spanish] black.

Neapolitan - [Italian] Ice creams and sweet cakes in layers of different colors and flavors.

Nesselrode - A dessert or sauce with rum and fruit flavor, often with chestnuts.

Neufchatel - [French] A soft unripened cheese originally from Neufchatel-en-Bray, France. It has a fat content of 44 to 48%. Also available as low-fat cream cheese in the U.S.

New Mexican chiles - Formerly known as Anaheim chiles; long green chiles grown in New Mexico; poblanos may be substituted.

New Mexico red chiles - A fresh chile; mild to medium hot; keeps its same name in both dried and fresh forms; mild chile with an earthy flavor, slightly tart with a hint of dried cherry; seen often strung in ristras for drying; used in pipiáns, salsas and barbecue sauces.

Newburg - Served with a hot cream sauce containing sherry and pieces of lobster.

Niçoise, Nigoise - [French] foods cooked in the style of Nice. These dishes may include garlic, Niçoise olives, anchovies, tomatoes, and green beans. Salad Niçoise is the most famous of all these dishes, consisting of potatoes, olives, green beans, and vinaigrette dressing. Also, a garnish of garlic, tomatoes, capers and lemon.

Niçoise and Gaeta Olives - Small black olives from the south of France and from Italy. They have a pure olive taste and come packed with their pits. Green Niçoise olives come already pitted. Their flavor is more tart than the black olives.

Nixtamál - [Spanish] hominy; lime-slaked corn; used to make posole or ground into masa, or dough, to make tortillas.

Noci - [Italian] nuts.

Nogada - [Spanish] walnut sauce.

Noisette - A small round steak, made of lamb or beef tenderloin.

Noisette Butter - Whole butter which has been cooked until it reaches a rich, nutty brown color and aroma.

Noix - [French] nut.

Noodles - Flat ribbon pasta made from flour, water and egg, then dried and rehydrated during boiling in water.

Noodles - Chinese
    Cellophane Noodles - Also known as slippery noodles or bean threads, these noodles are made from the starch of mung beans, a.k.a. "sprouts" to most of us. Dried they're translucent, but softened in hot water and cooked they become gelatinous and transparent. Although they don't have much taste on their own they do have a knack for picking up the flavors other ingredients they're mingled amongst. To cook: soften in hot water for 15 minutes, then boil or stir fry for 1 minute. Or deep-fry briefly in hot oil until puffed and lightly golden and use to garnish anything from quirky Asian-inspired appetizers to salads.

    Egg Noodles - Well-stocked Asian markets usually offer a selection of dried and fresh egg noodles, both thin and thick. Although they are often neon yellow, some of the dried varieties are made without eggs. If you can't find Chinese egg noodles, substitute fresh or dried Italian pasta. To cook egg noodles boil fresh noodles for 2 1/2 to 4 minutes or dried noodles 4 1/2 to 5 minutes.

    Wheat-Flour Noodles - Made with wheat flour and water, this is the oldest noodle form found in China. Still made by hand in fine restaurants around the world, they are created from a soft dough, resulting in a silky texture. They do vary in thickness and may be round or flat. The thinnest are used in refined soups, whereas the thicker varieties stand up to heartier soups and casseroles. Although these noodles come in shrimp-, chicken- and crab-flavored varieties the quality can vary dramatically along with their flavor. To cook wheat-flour noodles boil fresh noodles for 2 1/2 to 4 minutes or dried ones for 4 1/2 to 5 minutes.

Noodles - Korean
    Buckwheat Noodles - One of the most popular varieties of noodles among the Koreans are the brownish noodles known as "naengmyon" which are sold dried. They are made with buckwheat flour and potato starch and are slightly chewier than soba noodles. To prepare buckwheat noodles boil for 3 to 3 1/2 minutes. Naengmyon are mostly used in soups.

    Sweet Potato Noodles - "Tangmyon" or sweet potato noodles are similar to cellophane noodles, and they are often made with mung bean starch. Like cellophane noodles, they become translucent once cooked and will absorb the flavors of the foods they are cooked with. Used in stir fry dishes, to cook simply soften noodles in hot water for 10 minutes then stir-fry for 45 seconds to 1 minute.

Noodles - Japanese
    Soba Noodles - The brownish buckwheat soba noodles from Japan are becoming more popular as their beguiling nutty flavor and nutritional value engage the attention of Western cooks. Rich in protein and fiber, they are most commonly served cold with a dipping sauce or hot in soups. Soba noodles are extraordinarily versatile and lend themselves to salads and stir-fried dishes as well. You can find soba noodles flavored with green tea, lemon zest, or black sesame seeds. For the best-quality check out the Japanese brands. To cook boil fresh noodles 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or dried ones 4 to 4 1/2 minutes.*

    Udon Noodles - Fat, slippery white noodles found bobbing about in soups or casseroles, udon noodles are made from a wheat-flour-and-water dough and may be round, square, or flat in shape. In most recipes, udon noodles are interchangeable with soba noodles and Chinese wheat-flour-and-water noodles. Boil the fresh variety for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes and the dried anywhere from 4 to 4 1/2 minutes.*

    Ramen Noodles - Most of us recognize ramen noodle from the dried, curly variety found in those inexpensive instant noodle soup packages. Made with an egg-based dough, ramen are usually served with meat and vegetables in a flavorsome broth. Because fresh ramen is not always easy to find, fresh or dried Chinese egg noodles or Italian pasta make an adequate substitute.*

    Somen Noodles - The most delicate of all the Japanese noodles, somen are often distinguished by their elegant packaging. Made from a wheat-flour dough with a touch of oil added, like soba noodles they are often served cool with a dipping sauce, but don't forget they also make a light and delicate garnish for hot soups. To cook somen noodles just boil for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.

Nopal (nopales) - [Spanish] paddles (leaves) of the prickly pear (nopal) cactus; they are firm and crunchy; the smaller the paddle, the more tender; nopales have a flavor similar to green beans and can be eaten raw or cooked; sliced green beans can be substituted.

Nopalitos - [Spanish] cactus paddles cut into strips or dices; usually refers to the canned and pickled cactus.

Nori - Thin dry sheets of seaweed used in Japanese cooking. It is mainly used to wrap sushi and as garnish for other cold presentations. See "Seaweed sheets, dried."

Normande - A cream sauce containing fish essence, mushrooms and egg yolks.

Norte, norteño - [Spanish] north; of the north.

Nougat - A candy made from sugar and honey mixed with nuts. This mixture is then formed into slabs and sliced.

Nougatine - A darker candy, made of caramel syrup and nuts. This is rolled into thin sheets and formed into cups or bowls to serve as a vessel for other candy or fruit.

Nouilles - [French] noodles.

Nudeln - [German] noodles.

Nuoc Mam - See "Fish Sauce."

Nusskuchen - [German] Nutcake.

Nuevo - [Spanish] new.

Nuez moscada - [Spanish] nutmeg.

Nutella - A commercial brand of gianduja. This is a creamy paste of chocolate and hazelnuts treasured in Italy. This is used in candy making, for flavored milk drinks, and when thinned out, spread on bread as a quick snack.

Nutmeg - Oval-shaped, brown, wrinkly seed of the nutmeg tree. In its grated for is primarily utilized in sweet and savory dishes including cakes, custards, soufflés, meatballs and soups.