Flambé (also spelled flambe; pronEng|flɒmˈbeɪ) is a cooking procedure in which alcohol (ethanol) is added to a hot pan to create a burst of flames. The word means "flamed" in French (thus, in French, "flambé" is a past participle; the verb is "flamber").

It is typically done to create an impressive visual presentation at a dramatic point in the preparation of a meal. The flames result from the combustion of the flammable alcohol, which is quickly consumed, subsequently extinguishing the flames.

Although the practice of igniting food for show can be traced to the Moors in the 14th century, modern flambéing was discovered in Monte Carlo in 1895, when Henri Carpentier, a waiter, accidentally set fire to a pan of crêpes he was preparing for the future Edward VII of the United Kingdom. He discovered that burning the sauce affected its flavor in a way that he could not have anticipated.

Simply lighting food on fire is not flambéing in and of itself. Igniting a sauce with alcohol in the pan changes the chemistry of the food. Because alcohol boils at 78 °C (172 °F), water boils at 100 °C (212 °F) and sugar caramelizes at 160 °C (320 °F), ignition of all these ingredients combined results in a complex chemical reaction, especially as the surface of the burning alcohol exceeds 240 °C (500 °F ). However, because taste is a very subjective sense, not everyone can discern a change in flavor as a result of flambéing. Some claim that because the flame is above the food and since hot gases rise, it cannot significantly affect the flavor, although in an informal taste test conducted by the "Los Angeles Times" of two batches of caramelized apples (one flambéed and one simmered), one tester declared the "flambéed dish was for adults, the other for kids."cite news |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=2005-12-28 |author=Scattergood, Amy |title=Let the Sparks Fly]

Because of their high alcohol content, in the United States, many low end restaurants flambé with liquors such as Everclear or 151. However, these spirits are highly flammable and are considered much too dangerous by other restaurants. Wines and beers have too little alcohol and will not flambé. Rum, cognac, or other flavorful liqueurs that are about 80 USA proof (40% alcohol) are considered ideal. Cinnamon, which is ground from tree bark, is sometimes added not only for flavor, but for show as the powder ignites when added.

For safety reasons, it is recommended that alcohol never be added to a pan on a burner, and that the cook use a long fireplace match.

An example of the process was seen on the first episode of the second season of Bravo's cooking-challenge reality series Top Chef, when the chefs were challenged to create a flambe dish.

Another example was seen on the first episode of the fourth season of FOX's reality series Hell's Kitchen, where some chefs served flambes tableside.

Examples of popular flambé dishes include:
* Bananas Foster
* Bombe Alaska
* Crepes Suzette


External links

* [http://homecooking.about.com/library/archive/blflambe.htm List of Flambé recipes]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • flambe — [ flɑ̃b ] n. f. • 1080 « flamme »; a. fr. flamble, du lat. flammula, de flamma « flamme » 1 ♦ Région. Feu clair. ⇒ flambée. 2 ♦ Techn. Épée à lame ondulée. 3 ♦ Nom donné à certains iris. ● flambe nom féminin …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • flambé — flambe [ flɑ̃b ] n. f. • 1080 « flamme »; a. fr. flamble, du lat. flammula, de flamma « flamme » 1 ♦ Région. Feu clair. ⇒ flambée. 2 ♦ Techn. Épée à lame ondulée. 3 ♦ Nom donné à certains iris. ● …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • flambe — de feu, Flamma, Phlox. Jetter flambe par la bouche, Flammas expirare. Se mettre en la flambe et en danger, In flammam venire. Qui est de couleur de flambe, Flammeus. Une herbe qu on appelle flambe, Raphanitis. Ressemblant aucunement à la couleur… …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • Flambe — Flambé Flambé …   Wikipédia en Français

  • flambé — flambé, ée (flan bé, bée) part. passé. 1°   Passé à la flamme. Une volaille flambée. 2°   Terme d histoire naturelle. Qui offre des dessins ondoyants en forme de flammes. 3°   Fig. et familièrement. Ruiné, perdu, en parlant des personnes. C est… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • flambé — Flambé, [flamb]ée. part. Il signifie fig. & par raillerie, Ruiné, perdu, dont il n y a plus rien à attendre. Je suis flambé. il est flambé. mon argent est flambé, je n espere plus de le r avoir. c est une affaire flambée …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • flambe — 1886, of certain types of porcelain, 1906 as a term in cookery, from Fr. flambé, pp. of flamber to singe, blaze, from O.Fr. flambe flame (see FLAMBOYANT (Cf. flamboyant)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • flambé — /fr. flãˈbe/ [vc. fr., part. pass. di flamber «infiammare»] agg. inv. (cuc.) alla fiamma, fiammeggiato …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • flambé — UK [ˈflɒmbeɪ] / US [flɑmˈbeɪ] or flambéed UK [ˈflɒmbeɪd] / US [flɑmˈbeɪd] adjective served covered with a burning alcoholic drink such as brandy …   English dictionary

  • flambe — FLAMBE. s. f. Certaine fleur qu on appelle autrement Iris ou Glayeul …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

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