It seems my questions at ELL hit a dead end, that's not learner's level English...\

Is there a name in English for the process of turning ingredients of a dish into liquid through boiling them long enough?

Usually this happens as a cook's error, but at times it's the desired effect, e.g. you may create an excellent, smooth, creamy sauce by simmering the ingredients for a very long time.

Judging by what Google Images show, it seems that "overcooking" usually means burnt or nearing burnt fried/grilled food, which is definitely not the same thing. Someone suggested "overboiling" but my grasp of English doesn't allow me to decide whether that's correct or not.

  • Can you give a specific case? – SAJ14SAJ Dec 9 '13 at 20:33
  • @SAJ14SAJ: I add fried onion to my goulash in the beginning. I simmer it for ~4h and in the end you'd have to look hard to find a single piece of onion in it, but the sauce carries the taste. – SF. Dec 9 '13 at 20:37
  • I can tell you with certainty that "overboiling" is not the word you're looking for, neither is overcooking. That concept you describe is not uncommon, so there probably is a descriptive single word for it but for life of me I can't think of what it could be. The process you describe is usually described with a phrase in recipes. Funny thing, if there is a good word for it, it's probably French. – Jolenealaska Dec 9 '13 at 21:06

I don't think that the word exists at all. "Overboiling" and "overcooking" always implies an undesirable result. Else, you have to exactly describe what you are doing, which depends on the dish. Update: native speakers tell me that overboiling is not a real word in English. But I would have liked it to be :)

"Simmer for hours on low flame" is the term I would use for making things like katak, which are essentially an evaporation process, or just a generic term when you don't have a better description. Your goulash example will be probably called "cook until the onion disintegrates". The word "reduction" which somebody used in a comment at ELL is also restricted to evaporation-only techniques, where you start with liquids and let them sit until they lose some predetermined amount of their water (but normally does not also include curdling and/or fermenting the way katak making would). But reduction is a special case, because if it is not clear from the context that it means just evaporation, it is mostly used for the combination of deglazing and subsequent reduction, which involves pouring an acidic liquid (wine, vinegar or fruit juice) into the hot fat left after preparing meat in the pan, and then letting most of it evaporate (which happens in under a minute).

So, unless you have a very specific word for the technique you are using, you have to stay descriptive. There is no single word which encompasses all kinds of long boiling.

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I don't think there is any specific phrase for that phenomenon... technique is probably too strong a word. The closest I can think of is "to cook down", as in:

I cooked the onion down until it vanished in the sauce.

Still, simply cooking or simmering or boiling would work just as well.

Take the case of split pea soup, where the entire idea is to cook the peas down until they vanish into the porridge. Most recipe simply say to simmer or cook.

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