Culinary Terms U-V


Umami (u-MOM-ee)

One of the five primary sensations comprising the sense of taste; it refers to the savory taste of protein.


Wheat flour that has not been treated with a whitening agent.


A food-labeling term approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to describe a food prepared without the salt ordinarily used in the processed food product.

Upside-Down Cake

A dessert made by lining the bottom of a baking pan with butter, sugar and fruit, then adding a light cake batter; after baking, the cake is inverted so that the glazed fruit becomes the top surface.

Vanilla Bean

The dried, cured podlike fruit of an orchid plant grown in tropical regions; the pod contains numerous tiny black seeds; both the pod and the seeds are used for flavoring.

Vanilla Custard Sauce

Also known as creme anglaise; a stirred custard made with egg yolks, sugar and milk or half-and-half and flavored with vanilla; served with or used in dessert preparations.

Vanilla Extract

A vanilla-flavored product made by macerating chopped vanilla beans in a water-alcohol solution to extract the flavor; its strength is measured in folds.

Vanilla Extract, Pure

Vanilla extract made with 13.35 oz. of vanilla beans per gallon during extraction and 35% alcohol.

Vanilla Flavoring

A combination of pure vanilla extract and imitation vanilla.

Vanilla Sugar

Granulated sugar infused with the flavor of vanilla and made by burying vanilla beans in a container of sugar for a brief time; used in baked goods, creams and with fruit.


Whitish crystals of vanilla flavor that often develop on vanilla beans during storage. 2. Synthetic vanilla flavoring.


Meat from calves slaughtered when younger than 9 months; it has a lean, light pink flesh, a delicate flavor and a tender, firm texture.

Vegan (VEE-gun)

A vegetarian who does not eat any animal products.


The edible parts of plants, including the leaves, stalks, roots, tubers and flowers; they are generally savory rather than sweet and often salted or otherwise dressed; some are always consumed cooked, others always raw and some can be consumed either cooked or raw; sometimes associated with meat, fish, shellfish and poultry as part of a meal or ingredient; vegetables are mostly water and usually contain vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein and fats.


A person who eats primarily or exclusively plant foods.

Veloute, Sauce (veh-loo-TAY)

A French leading sauce made by thickening a veal stock, chicken stock or fish fumet with a white or golden roux; also known as a blond sauce.


A tasting term for a lush, silky, smooth texture.


The flesh of any member of the deer family, including the antelope, caribou, elk, moose, reindeer, red-tailed deer, white-tailed deer and mule deer; it typically has a dark red color with very little intramuscular fat or marbling, a firm, dense, velvety texture, a mild aroma and a sweet, herbal, nutty flavor; significant cuts include the loin, leg, rack and saddle.


1. To allow the circulation or escape of a liquid or gas.
2. To cool a pot of hot liquid by setting the pot on blocks in a cold water bath and allowing cold water to circulate around it.

Vermicelli (ver-mih-CHEHL-ee)

1. Italian for little worms and used to describe very thin spaghetti; available in straight rods or twisted into a cluster.
2. A general term for any long, very thin rods of pasta or noodles.


A neutral white wine flavored with various herbs, spices and fruits and fortified to a minimum of 16% alcohol; used as an aperitif and cocktail ingredient.

Vidalia Onion

A large onion with a pale yellow outer layer and a sweet, juicy white flesh; grown in a delimited area around Vidalia, Georgia.

Vinaigrette (vihn-uh-GREHT)

A temporary emulsion of oil and vinegar seasoned with herbs, spices, salt and pepper; used as a salad dressing or sauce.


From the French vin aigre (sour wine); a weak solution of acetic acid made from a fermented liquid such as cider, wine or beer, subjected to certain bacterial activity; generally clear, the liquid can be tinted various shades depending on the base liquid and can reflect the flavor of the base liquid or be flavored by the introduction of other ingredients.


A distilled spirit made from potatoes and various grains, principally corn, with some wheat added; it is distilled at proofs ranging from 80 to 100 and is sometimes flavored.

Vol-Au-Vents (vul-oh-vanz)

Deep, individual portion-sized puff pastry shells, often filled with a savory mixture and served as an appetizer or a main course.