Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Flame used as a verb (equivalent to the French flamber which, in the form of its past participle, flambé, has entered the English language, oddly, as a transitive verb), is an instruction sometimes found in recipes involving alcohol, and exploits the property of this substance to burn at a low temperature. Spirit or fortified wine is heated gently (in a ladle or small pan) until the alcohol it contains begins to vaporize, then ignited, poured over the food, and allowed to burn. The process removes most of the alcohol leaving behind a distinctive, concentrated flavour. Brandy is commonly used, principally in meat dishes; rum is used in creole cookery, and with some desserts; calvados in Norman cookery, and so on.