Flambé, is a cooking procedure in which alcohol is added to a hot pan to create a burst of flames. The word means flamed in French (as, in French, flambé is the past participle of the verb flamber).
Flambéing is often associated with tableside presentation of certain liqueur-drenched dishes, such as Bananas Foster or Cherries Jubilee, when the alcohol is ignited and results in a flare of blue-tinged flame. However, flambéing is also a step in making coq au vin, and other dishes and sauces, using spirits, before they are brought to the table. By rapidly burning off the volatile alcohol, flambéing can infuse a dish with additional aroma and flavor, and moderates the harshness of raw, high-proof spirits. The partial combustion of the flammable alcohol results in flames which quickly consume the liquid, however, some residual flavors usually remain.
—Flambé from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia