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Glossary - O

Oatcake - A flaky, flat Scottish biscuit made with oatmeal.

Ocote - [Spanish] small strips of pine used to kindle a fire.

Oeuf - [French] egg.

Oeuf a la Neige - Sweet meringue puffs that are poached in milk and chilled. When served, these puffs are drizzled with caramel and served with creme anglaise.

Offal - Edible internal organs of meat, poultry and game.

Oie - [French] goose.

Oignon - [French] onion.

Okra - Introduced from Africa by slaves; resembles a large green chile with longitudinal ribs outside and many round, slimy, but edible seeds inside; okra should be small, not over two or three inches long. Pods should be firm, undamaged, and not at all mushy. Use small unblemished okra for soups and stews and to thicken gumbos.

Olio - [Italian] oil.

Olive Oil - Olive oil has a very distinctive flavor, and has become more prominent in American cooking today. Grades of olive oils are determined by the methods of extraction and the acid content of the resulting oil. Virgin oils are those obtained from the first pressing of the olive without further refinement. The finest olive oil is extra virgin, with an acid content of 1%. Following this are superfine at 1.5%, fine at 3%, and virgin at 4%. Pure olive oils are those which have been extracted by heat. These are of 100% olive oil, but their flavor can result in a harsh, bitter aftertaste. Pomace olive oil is refined from the final pressings and under heat and pressure. The taste is inferior to other olive oils and should never be substituted for them. Olive oil becomes rancid very easily, more so when exposed to heat or light. Always store tightly sealed in a cool, dark place.

Olives - This is the edible fruit of the olive tree. Found in both green (unripe) and black (ripe) forms, each must undergo a process to remove the bitterness found in them. This curing process is done with brine solutions, salt curing, and drying.

Olla - Common Mexican pot which is tall and tapered inward on the top; it is shaped especially for cooking beans; stockpots and saucepans are good substitutes.

Olla podrida - [Spanish] stew.

Oloroso - [Spanish] a type of sherry. Oloroso means fragrant in Spanish and this sherry has an intense bouquet.

Opakapaka - Pink snapper. A Hawaiian favorite, especially around the holidays.

Oporto - [Portuguese] sweet dessert port wines named after Oporto, Portugal, on the Douro river.

Opuntia - Prickly pear cactus.

Orange blossom water (orange water) - Orange blossom extract can be found in fancier food shops. Common in the Middle East.

Orange roughy - Ocean perch-like fish from New Zealand. Often substituted for cod. Can be used in any recipe calling for white-fleshed fish.

Oregano - Mexican oregano; wild marjoram; also called wild, bastard or dwarf marjoram; used to season many foods, particularly sauces and soups; plants grow wild in the Southwest; best substitute is marjoram or sage.

Orehones - [Spanish] dried fruits.

Orientale - An Am ricaine sauce with added cream and curry powder.

Ortolans - Tiny game birds (buntings).

Orzo - Small rice shaped pasta.

Oseille - [French] sorrel.

Osso Buco - An Italian dish comprised of crosscut slices of the veal shank braised with vegetables, aromatics and stock. Milanese style is served with saffron risotto and gremolata.

Ostiones - [Spanish] oysters.

Ouzo - A clear anise-flavored liqueur from Greece. It is generally mixed with water which turns it whitish and opaque.

Oven slide - Cookie sheet.

Overland trout - An old Western term for pigs and hogs; sometimes bacon.

Oxidized - Wine that has been in contact with air too long, causing it to darken and smell stale.

Oyster - Four major species in the United States are - Atlantic, found along the East and Gulf coasts; the European, a flat-shelled, round oyster of the Northwest and Maine; the Olympia, the half-dollar-sized oyster grown in the Northwest; and the fruit-flavored Pacific oyster, known for its wildly scalloped shell.

Oyster mushroom - A fan-shaped wild mushroom with a grayish cap, that grows in clusters on the side of trees. It is off-white to grayish in color and has a soft texture. These mushrooms have a very subtle flavor. They are also being cultivated in the US, making them readily available in markets and moderately priced.

Oyster plant - An edible root, known also as vegetable oyster, or salsify. It is prepared like parsnips.

Oyster sauce - Classic cooking sauce from China. Also used in other Asian cuisines. Originally made from oysters, water and salt only, oyster sauce now contains added cornstarch and caramel color, to improve its appearance and also to thicken liquids in stir-fries. Surprisingly it has no fishy taste. Found in large supermarkets and Oriental markets. Oyster sauce is a molasses-colored, reddish, dark brown sauce consisting of oysters, brine and soy sauce cooked until thick and concentrated.

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