Humans are creatures of habits. As our personalities grow, we also develop behaviors and routines that become automatic and can accompany us throughout our lives if we allow them to. So why not build in healthy, or at least useful, upgrades yourself?
To find out how they can improve in the kitchen, Redditor Rollotamassii made a post on the platform asking other users, “What’s one small thing you started that had a big positive impact on your cooking?”
From caring for their knives to using fresh herbs, people immediately started sharing tips, so at Bored Panda we’ve rounded up the most popular ones to help you level up too!
Learn cooking techniques instead of recipes.
Don’t approach recipes as if they were spells in the Harry Potter universe. If you wiggle your nose the wrong way or add too much spice to a spec, you won’t end up with a completely different dish.
Alton Brown does an incredible job of teaching a cooking technique and then showing you a recipe that uses that technique. When you learn a process instead of a routine recipe, you know how to cook dozens of dishes and it really is the only way to develop skills in the kitchen.
Read more than one version of a recipe to understand exactly what (if anything) should be, then taste as I go and don’t worry about measurements.
If I’m making a stir-fry or other dish with lightly sautéed vegetables, I chop the broccoli and carrots before I start and place them in a covered bowl of boiling hot water for about 10 minutes. They’re then easily cooked when you want them to go in, and you don’t have to fiddle with cooking the broccoli without mashing all the other veggies.
Gather all your ingredients BEFORE you start cooking and get your own/meaty/floury hands all over your kitchen or need to wash your hands 1000 times.
Fry the onions for a long time. I can always tell when the onions have rushed in my curries and soups
I bake a lot and using a scale was a huge game changer. I also finally found a good rhythm for cleaning while you walk and it’s been amazing.
A chef here. Hope some of this is helpful. These are general things that apply to most people I train or talk to.
Don’t watch those cooking videos on facebook, yummy etc. Or at least don’t follow them in minute detail. They don’t usually follow good cooking basics and often overcook their meat or have weird moves inside them that a chef would probably never do. I usually see them and think they’re awful.
Learn how to properly chop an onion into small and evenly sized pieces. Raw white onions belong in a lot less food than you think, especially when they’re cut into large, uneven chunks. If you want onions on something, try sweating them, roasting them, caramelizing them, or seasoning them with a bit of acid or salt.
Having a sharp knife and learning how to make basic cuts is very helpful. Learning how to finely chop fresh herbs without damaging them, or how to cut meat and vegetables into even sizes to cook them evenly can greatly improve flavor.
Use more salt than you think you need, don’t add it too early in the cooking phase, but if you’re making your final taste before serving, make sure it’s seasoned. Use different sizes of salt depending on what you’re doing. Usually, roasted meat tastes better with coarse salt. Fine salt is best used when you don’t want the texture of natural salt or are concerned it won’t blend properly with the food.
Once you’ve learned to season with salt, balancing dishes with acidity is another good step. Citrus juices and vinegars work well and can really take things to the next level.
Taste often and at every stage of cooking. Make sure you taste it before you serve it.
You probably need less garlic than you think although it’s delicious, same goes for herbs and spices, once I started it was always over. Really good ingredients can speak for themselves.
I always try to look at three recipes before I cook something new. I usually do free style from there, but if you’re less confident, just pick one. Looking at a few will give you a better idea of the key ingredients and ratios.
If you overcook meat severely. Buy a penetration thermometer Never overcook meat again.
Another meat tip. Remember where the meat of the animal came from. If it’s a muscle they use a lot (legs, butt, etc.) it probably needs to be cooked slow and low. If it’s a muscle they don’t use much (back, tenderloin, etc.) it probably needs high heat and a faster cook time. There are exceptions to this rule, but most of the time it doesn’t work.
Put butter on or in almost anything. Assemble (add while tossing or whipping) into a sauce at the end of cooking. Fry meat or fish in it. Cooks use butter for a lot more things than you think.
Understand the importance of balancing fat, salt, sweetness and acidity and be able to taste and adjust accordingly
I stopped multitasking. I used to do a lot of other crap while cooking and the results showed that I wasn’t concentrating. Now I stay in the kitchen and turn on the music. I think I went from a B minus to an A minus chef.
(1) use of whole spices and not pre-ground;
(2) roasting before milling; and or
(3) Frying in oil to release the flavors.
Using a bowl to dispose of leftovers/compost while chopping veggies etc. I can’t stand having clutter on my chopping board.
Also mise en place.
Clean as you go. Leaving all those dirty dishes lying around in your kitchen turns the last 10 minutes of cooking and serving into a hectic disaster. You will forget things, get burned, not find a free seat on the counter, take shortcuts and just generally be unhappy. The food will reflect it.
If your kitchen area is tidy and clean before everything is ready to be served, you will feel better, do a better job of serving, remember the finishing touches and be able to relax and enjoy the meal, that you worked so hard on .
Read recipes all the way through before beginning, even if I’ve made the recipe before. Also mise en place-ing my ingredients
For me it was the day I found out about Mirepoix and Soffritto. Adds a whole layer of flavor to my soups, stews and red Italian sauces.
Don’t automatically turn the burner on high heat (I know, crazy)
Get an accurate cooking thermometer and use it on everything in the oven, including cakes.
Stop obsessing about everything being piping hot when it’s served. I used to overcook things from keeping them on the heat while I finished the sides.
When preparing white sauce/bechamel use a whisk and not a fork or anything but a whisk. This way you will get a smooth and creamy sauce. This also means that your pot must not be non-stick, otherwise you will not be able to use the whisk as you need it.
Heat pans slowly. If I know I’m going to use a skillet, cast-iron and otherwise, or my cast-iron grill that I use for tortillas, I put it on the stovetop on low for about half an hour, then bring it up to whatever while I prepare the food. I use cast iron and stainless steel, and they all get nonstick by preheating.
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