27 March 2024

Word for the day: dredging

I was reading today about how to make walleye pike almondine, and the recipe called for "dredging" the filet.
In cooking, the word dredge means to coat an item of food in flour or breadcrumbs before cooking it.  Dredging in flour requires the item to have some moisture about it, which is the case with most food items. It's a good idea to shake off any excess flour so that the coating doesn't turn pasty or gummy.  The standard breading technique involves first dredging the item with flour, dipping it in egg wash, and then finally coating it with breadcrumbs. This works because the flour sticks to the food, the egg sticks to the flour, and the breadcrumbs [or almond] stick to the egg
I was curious about the etymology, wondering if "dredging" the filet related to "dragging" it through the coating.  Apparently the relationship is only tangential at best.  Dredging items off the floor of the ocean is "From Scots dreg-boat, dreg-bot (from Old English *dreċġ); or alternatively from Middle Dutch dregghe (“drag-net”), probably ultimately from the same root as drag."

But there's a second etymology for the cooking term that is more related to spices than to dragging: "From Middle English dragge, from Old French dragee, dragie, from Latin tragēmata, from Ancient Greek τραγήματα (tragḗmata, “spices”), plural of τράγημα (trágēma, “dried fruit”)."

You learn something every day.


  1. Fun detail. The current Dutch verb for dredging (waterways) is 'baggeren', which according to wiki is also Middle-Dutch.

    Dredging in the sense of breading is 'paneren', borrowed from French. In French, bread is 'pain'.

  2. Crushed corn flakes are also great in place of breadcrumbs.

    1. Explore dredging by replacing breadcrumbs with different flavors of crushed nacho chips, potato chips, cheez doodles. One flavor at a time, of course. Although a melange of flavors might be fun for the tongue?


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