Scientifically speaking, a member of the Allium genus of pungent, bulbous herbs. Chefly speaking, we're talking onions, shallots, leeks, garlic, chives and their ilk.
Not half as froofy as it sounds. It just refers to leafy herbs that have been sliced into very thin, long strips. You do it by stacking up a bunch of the leaves in question, rolling them into a fairly tight cigar shape, and then cutting the roll into very thin slices.
Also known as Chinese black vinegar, Chinkiang vinegar is a rice vinegar usually made from black rice that has a very intense, almost smoky flavor.
A type of French bread, usually made with baguette dough, where individual rolls are alternately stuck together in a manner that resembles a stalk of wheat.
The strictest traditional interpretation is a mixture of finely minced parsley, garlic and lemon zest that's used to add a little brightness to osso buco. But like many culinary terms, it's also more loosely used to include other herbs and other dishes.
Some friends and I affectionately refer to this as "face bacon". Like pancetta (see below), it's an Italian pork product that's seasoned, cured and hung to age. Unlike pancetta, it's made from the pig's jowls rather than the belly. It's a little sweeter, a little more "porky", and I absolutely adore it.
AKA Sichuan Pepper, huajiao is a Chinese spice that's extensively (though certainly not exclusively) used in Sichuan cooking where, along with chiles, it comprises the "ma" portion of the traditional "ma la" Sichuan flavor profile. It consists of a small black seed surrounded by a brown-red husk, about the size of a BB. The seed is flavorless and generally discarded, but the husk is some potent stuff. The flavor isn't as peppery as it is citrusy, but more notably it creates a weird numbing sensation on the tongue that some find rather disconcerting. Personally, I adore it, and I'm sure the fact that it makes consuming large quantities of chiles easier is no coincidence.
We can thank the nerdy chefs of science for this particular innovation. An immersion circulator is a piece of lab equipment that is capable of maintaining extremely precise temperatures for liquid baths. If you set an immersion circulator for 121 degrees, that water will be 121 degrees -- not 120, not 122 -- but 121 degrees. Hence, its usefulness for scientific endeavors. It's been repurposed by chefs looking to do sous vide and other poached dishes that require a great deal of precision.
Late Bottle Vintage (LBV)
A late bottle vintage, or LBV, is a variety of port. LBVs start out their lives the same as premiere vintage ports, but instead of being bottled after a couple of years, they're left to age in barrels for a longer period of time, up to six or seven years before bottling. Because of this they don't have the same power and intensity that traditional vintage ports do, but LBVs are ready to drink at the time of bottling, whereas vintage ports usually need at least a decade, frequently decades, in the bottle before they're mature. LBVs, especially filtered ones, also tend to maintain their flavor better than vintage ports once they're opened. You don't want it to sit on the shelf for months, but an LBV will usually still be quite good a few weeks after opening. While certainly not as impressive as vintage ports, LBVs are a good way to get a similarly bold, fruity flavor without spending serious coin.
The thunder and lightning of traditional Sichuan cooking, ma la refers to the combination of searing hot chiles and citrusy, tingly Sichuan pepper.
See Molecular Gastronomy, below.
A Japanese rice wine, used almost exclusively for cooking, that is short on alcohol and long on sugar. It is, of course, available at Japanese markets, but these days you can find it in the Asian foods section of just about any grocery store.
Mise en Place
An intimidating French term that simply means the stuff you assemble before you start cooking. When something is on the fire and moments mean the difference between it being perfectly cooked or charred to a crisp, it pays to have everything chopped, cleaned, peeled, assembled, measured and otherwise on hand and ready to go.
In culinary circles, a misnomer that many despise and for which even fewer have a better alternative. The phrase was originally coined to describe the study of the science of cooking, but has since been adopted by many to describe the food of avant-garde chefs who focus on exploring new techniques. Bad chefs will use sodium alginate because -- at least in restaurants -- it's new and interesting and grabs attention. Good chefs, however, will embrace sodium alginate where they feel it makes their food taste better, and eschew it where it doesn't. But both are widely classified as molecular gastronomists, hence part of the reason use of the term has become so loaded.
Basically, Italian bacon. Pancetta is pork belly that's herbed, cured, rolled and hung to age. Unlike typical American bacon, it isn't smoked. When you buy it, it's usually rolled into a tight cylinder that can easily be confused for a deli meat on first glance.
A Chinese rice wine named for the region from which it originates. There are pricey bottles for drinking, but the type intended for cooking can be found at any Chinese market and is pretty cheap. Flavor-wise its closest Western relative is dry sherry, which will do in a pinch, but it isn't really a substitute.
Shiso (aka Perilla) is an herb used in many East Asian cuisines, most notably Japanese. It's a large, fairly round leaf with a spiky fringe and a fuzzy texture. The flavor is something like a very green, peppery, weak mint -- which isn't to say it tastes anything like peppermint. Think weak mint and black pepper.
Sichuan (or Szechuan) Pepper
See Huajiao, above.
Uni is just the Japanese word for sea urchin... or its gonads, anyway, which is the part you eat. Provided it's fresh, the flavor isn't nearly as odd as its origins or neon yellow-orange color might lead you to believe. Personally, I find it very reminiscent of egg yolks -- egg yolks that have been floating around in the ocean, anyway.
Xiao Long Bao
Often referred to as "soup dumplings" in the States, xiao long bao are a particular type of Chinese pork (and oftentimes crab) bun that originated near Shanghai. Though technically buns, they're small with very thin skins and more closely resemble dumplings. Their awesomeness is derived from the pork aspic filling that melts when the dumplings are steamed, resultng in a huge gush of hot soup when the skin is broken.