What does it mean to shock food?

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Shocking is a chef’s technique that is primarily used with fresh vegetables.  The term refers to a rapid change in temperature, usually caused by plunging the food into an ice bath.  It most often used with veggies that are being steamed or boiled…particularly green vegetables.

Why do chefs shock vegetables?
Shocking very quickly stops the cooking process, preventing carryover cooking from having much effect on the food.  This can make the difference between tender, flavorful veggies and mushy, bitter veggies…particularly if the vegetables aren’t going to be served immediately.  They can be reheated to the desired temperature later.

This shock and reheat method is an important chefs’ technique that sets the color of green vegetables and helps preserve their texture, which is the main reason why vegetables are so crisp and bright in restaurants and often dark and limp at home.  Shocking at home is an easy way to improve the quality of your vegetable side dishes.

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