Cooking is a skill and everyone starts out in the kitchen as a novice, so if you want to make delicious meals but your attempts have been ending up in the bin, here are some tips you can check out to help you become better at cooking.Source for the right ingredients – Getting quality ingredients for a meal is one of the most important things you can do to get better results.
Season – Do not be afraid of seasoning with salt; however, there are things you have to understand about seasoning with salt; it is better to use sparingly and build up, than adding a lot and having no way to remedy over-salted food. It will be most likely ruined. Most home cooks use iodized table salt; if you can get Kosher salt, then try using it instead. Kosher salt is less refined than table salt and less likely to contain additives. Also, you can season with herbs and spices, especially fresh ones-they can add flavor and depth to what you are cooking.
Timing – Adding crayfish to onion while sautéing will give you a different result if you add the crayfish towards the end of the cooking process. Understand that cooking is an art; there are techniques that are set in place and some that are more flexible. This is why prep is necessary and every ingredient should be mise en place. You will require a lot of patience to be able to follow the timing of a meal during the cooking process. For example, puff-puff requires time for the batter to rise before you can start frying, if you dump everything all at once or rush the process, you will not enjoy the results.
Practice technique – If you want to be a better cook, you will need to do actual cooking. Practice makes perfect. Practice the basics then build from there, for example; ‘how to season chicken, ‘how to make a stew’. Cooking regularly will help you hone your kitchen skills. Cook using recipes, there might be mistakes as you go along but you have to keep trying and with time it will be easy to avoid making errors when cooking. This is one of the secrets of many home cooks that always churn out meals daily-sometimes they make mistakes, other times it is perfect. Cook often and your culinary skills will improve.
Knives – You may be thinking, “what does a knife have to do with being great at cooking”, well, everything. The knife is one of the most important tools in any kitchen and a sharp knife gets the job done faster and easier than a blunt knife. A sharp knife is precise so you are less likely to cut yourself than when you are using a blunt knife.
Follow a recipe – It is important to read and understand a recipe thoroughly before trying it out. Give yourself time to familiarize yourself with the techniques, process and get ingredients ready so that you are not stalling when putting the dish together. Some recipes state that meat should be marinated overnight-if you do not read the recipe in advance you will have a difficult time trying to make that dish. This is one of the reasons you have to prep before cooking a meal. You do not want to be looking for the onion while the oil is heating up.
Use the right tools – If you do not use the right tools, you may not enjoy cooking and the food will most likely not taste as great as it should. Using the right tools will also save you a lot of time. A sharp knife for example will give precise cuts to vegetables, which help the presentation of your food. Sometimes there is the need to interchange between non-stick pans, stainless steel pans, Dutch ovens, Woks, frying pan, skillet and other cooking tools. Buy quality items, they last longer and cheap cookware will bring you a lot of stress while cooking. A well-stocked kitchen will make it easier to get the right result.
Get familiar – I spend so much time watching cooking shows to familiarize myself with cooking terms, ingredients, techniques and more. I am always inspired after watching a show, I learn what ingredients work well together, I see mistakes they make and try to avoid them in my own cooking and I generally improve my recipes using tips that are shared.
Write your own recipes – Be sure to keep notes while cooking. If I make a fantastic pot of Jollof rice, I make a mental note while putting the ingredients together and later I try to document everything I used in the process and what made that dish successful. Also, learn to measure correctly so that you get the same perfect result every time.
By Yemisi Odusanya