10 Best Cooking Tips of All Time
Cooking is quite the job for people who know nothing about it. But really, it is only as easy, or complex, as you make it. If anything at all, cooking can be really fun and therapeutic if you just take some time to know and learn about a few basic and tips in the kitchen. These are our 10 Best Cooking Tips of All Time to help bring out the inner Martha Stewart in you!
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1. Understanding recipes
Recipes, for not-so-bright cooks, are like an SOS boat in the middle of the Atlantic. Being able to understand and grasp the instructions of a recipe is therefore extremely important, especially with written/printed recipes. So how does go about mastering a recipe?
The secret is in the READING. Before you even turn on the gas, you need to know the recipe from line to line. The cook-as-you-go method is inefficient and stressful so you need to make sure that you understand every step and detail of the recipe clearly. To ensure this, you must read it multiple times, thoroughly. But mind you, you don’t always have to follow a recipe to the T. There are a few things that always need to be done your own way, like seasoning and portioning.
2. Organize everything
Having everything, from the ingredients to the cooking pans, out and ready where you need them is key to a consistent, effortless and stress-free cooking experience.
Running all over the kitchen to chop this and slice that could end up burning the steak on the skillet. Multitasking and juggling aren’t always fruitful. Especially in the kitchen. The smartest and most efficient way to cook is through preparation and organization. Place your recipe right where you can see it, preheat the oven if you need to, pull out the ingredients and chop and cut everything beforehand.
3. Don’t rush it
With all the sizzling and heat and cutting and chopping, it can start to feel very chaotic and hectic. Calm down. The best way to cook is to cook to like a king, not a chef. Relax and take your time.
Remember, you are cooking because you want to. You are in no obligation and your life doesn’t depend on a good dish. You are not Gordon Ramsay. Hasting with food and cooking only results in undercooked chicken and slit thumbs. So don’t work yourself up trying to get everything perfect and done fast. However, having everything organized beforehand always helps the process. Either way, slow-cooked meals always taste fabulous, anyway!
4. Don’t overcrowd
It is very common more new cooks to throw in tons of ingredients into a dish thinking it will help the flavor profile. Getting the flavor profile right is a tough job and need experience and years. For kitchen newbies, the smartest way to begin their culinary education in the kitchen is by opting for simple dishes.
Choose recipes that have few ingredients and require simple, easy-to-do techniques. A simple mashed potato can taste just as tasty and complex as eggs Benedict when done right. Therefore, focus on quality, not quantity. Trying a recipe with heaps of ingredients and techniques and steps can confuse you and put you off cooking entirely. Pick something easy to so, something simple and minimal and take your time executing that masterpiece.
5. Cut carefully
If you are going to work in the kitchen, working with sharp knives is a given. And boy does a cut hurt. Ouch! For beginners, it is very, very important that you do your knife work very slowly. Don’t rush, don’t haste, and take it easy.
Some extra safety measures can also help your fingers from getting chopped off. Use a heavy cutting board which a sticky base which won’t slip and slide. Do not use sharp chef-grade knives right away since you are still learning. Instead, opt for plastic knives, which may not be the sharpest things, but are heaps safer and easier to use. But essentially, the best ways to avoid an accident is to master the skill. Practice with different knives, try a different technique. And remember, you can’t learn to cook without a few cuts. Always have your first-aid box at hand.
6. Avoid cold plates
Ever noticed why the plates coming out of a restaurant kitchen are so nice and warm? Well, there’s a science to it! Plating hot or warm food on a cold dish or plate can cool down the temperature of the food on it. It can manipulate the taste of that food too.
The trick is to plate food on warm, or at least room temperature, plates. This helps your food stay hot/warm for longer and does not alter the taste of flavor profile either.
7. Freshness is key
One of the first things you should know about cooking is that the freshness of the ingredient you use is everything! You may follow the recipe to the T, use all the right techniques and steps, but your dish you still end up tasting bland, if not terrible, if you do not use fresh ingredients.
Always try to buy fresh produce instead of frozen or canned. Purchase from reputed and trusted sellers so that you know you are getting the best for your money. Learn how to store your produce in the fridge the right way. Some produce last more than others, some need refrigeration and some don’t. Keep track of this if you want to eat fresh and reduce waste. One other tip is to always check the expiry dates of packed foods, and throw away the expired ones.
8. Don’t cook wet food
Wet food + hot oil= disaster, only. One thing you have to remember when cooking with oil, whether it is deep frying, sautéing, searing, etc, is that you should let put a wet piece of food in contact with hot oil.
The oil, if very hot, is bound to sizzle and bubble and spit at you. There is therefore a very good chance that you could injure yourself and even incur 3rd degree burns. Always dab away extra water from food with a kitchen towel before placing it in hot oil. This also applies with frozen food. Let it thaw out completely before cooking in hot oil.
9. Don’t over-improvise
Cooking is an art. Once you master the basics, it’s all done your way. There are no rules, no ifs, and no buts as long as it tastes good and won’t kill you.
Having said that, deviating too much from the recipe or replacing and substituting too many ingredients can totally change the dish, often for the worse. So take risks, try odd combinations and test your palate, but don’t go too wild.
10. Take rest
Don’t go on a cooking overdrive. It is very important that you don’t slave the day away in the kitchen. Instead, take a break away from it.
Cooking is done best when you enjoy doing it. So whenever you feel like your kitchen exploration are getting a little hectic and repetitive, turn off the gas, sit down and sip on some cold beer. It is fine to every now and then.