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General Cooking TipsEdit

  • Season with salt and pepper from a height (around 8-10") to get more even coverage
  • Don't season just at the end of the cooking process; seasoning from the beginning will help develop more flavour than just at the end
  • When applicable, season a dish with something acidic (vinegar, citrus juices) to help brighten and balance flavours as well as giving it a lighter taste
  • When you can, buy whole chickens and fish and break them down yourself; they are cheaper than buying the prepared pieces and you get the carcass for making stock afterwards
  • If preparing seafood such as prawns, crabs, lobsters, or shellfish, save the shells in a bag in the freezer and then make a seafood stock once you have enough

Equipment TipsEdit

  • Keep knives sharp and steel them regularly; sharp knives are quicker and easier to work with and are safer as well
  • Use thick-walled/bottomed pans for more even heat distribution;
  • Stainless steel-lined pans produce lots of brown bits (fond) when searing meats which is good for a pan sauce if you're making one; non-stick pans produce basically none

Meat-related TipsEdit

  • Brown meats well with high heat (colour = flavour); if the pan isn't hot when you put the meat in, take it back out
  • Dry meats sear best so pat them dry if necessary
  • Rest meats before carving them to allow the juices to redistribute; carving the meat before it has rested will result in the juices running out and leaving it dry. Some approximate resting times are given below:
    • Individual portion (e.g. chicken breast, steak, pork chop, etc.): 3-4 minutes, more for double cut or bone-in
    • Small roast item (e.g. pork tenderloin, other small items): 10-15 minutes
    • Medium roast item (e.g. whole chicken, other medium-sized roasts): 20-30+ minutes
    • Large roast items (e.g. whole turkey): Varies depending on size but could be up to 2+ hours
  • When carving meats, slice it in thick slices (i.e. 1/2"/1cm ) to keep it from going cold quickly
  • After carving, season slices of rare-cooked meats lightly with salt (this is the time to use good finishing salts like Fleur de Sel, gray sea salt, Maldon sea salt, etc.)
  • If time allows, let braised meats cool in the cooking liquid to keep them moist

Fruit, Vegetable, and Herb-related TipsEdit

  • Don't discard the trim from good vegetables such as asparagus, the tops of leeks or fennel or the stems of herbs like parsley, coriander, basil, tarragon as they are good for adding to stocks
  • Store fresh herbs wrapped in a moist paper towel in a plastic bag in the fridge
  • Cook mushrooms with high heat to give lots of flavour and season near the end so the water isn't drawn out and they boil in the pan
  • There's nothing wrong with frozen peas and good quality canned whole plum tomatoes
  • If there's a green sprout in the middle of a garlic clove, remove it since it's bitter

Rice and Pasta-related TipsEdit

  • Season pasta cooking water well with salt to the point where it tastes like the sea; a good rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon of kosher salt per quart of water
  • When cooking pasta use lots of water, keep it boiling, and stir a few times to keep it from sticking together
  • In general, don't rinse pasta after cooking or the starch that helps the sauce to adhere will get washed off
  • Reserve some of the cooking water after draining the pasta to help thin the sauce if necessary

Egg-related TipsEdit

  • The key to poached eggs is to use the freshest eggs possible and to poach them in acidic water to keep the whites from spreading everywhere
  • The older the egg, the easier it should be to peel when making hard boiled eggs. Generally the ones from supermarkets are old enough.

Stock-related TipsEdit

  • Don't boil a stock or it will become cloudy; stock should be cooked over a very low simmer such that a few small bubbles come up every so often and the surface gently trembles/quivers
  • Skim the stock frequently to remove the scum and fat
  • When applicable, secure light ingredients like a bouquet garni under a heavy bone so it doesn't get in the way of skimming
  • Don't use a stock as a dumping ground for all vegetable trimmings; the vegetables/herbs used should still be fresh and of good quality.
  • Avoid using ingredients like cabbages, brocolli, and other relatives as their flavours are quite aggressive and unpleasant for a neutral stock. However, in certain cases where you want to emphasize the flavour, you could for example make a brocolli stock
  • Fish stock:
    • Use bones and heads of non-oily white fish like halibut, snapper, sole, turbot, etc.
    • If using heads, remove the gills as they can give a bitter flavour
    • Don't cook fish stock for more than 30 minutes or the bones will start giving a bitter flavour
    • A slotted spoon is good for skimming the foam/scum from a fish stock
    • Lots of particles are releasted into the stock when making a fish stock, so after cooking it, allow it sit for 10 minutes for them to settle. After allowing it to rest, gently ladle the stock through an extra fine chinois or lined (cheese cloth, muslin, paper towel) sieve
    • Another good way to clarify a fish stock well is strain it then chill it overnight in the fridge so the particles settle to the bottom. Afterwards, gently ladle the top (clear) stock out, taking care not to agitate it and re-suspend the particles. It's even easier to ladle out the clear stock if you reduce it by about 1/3rd after cooking since the stock will get quite gelatinous
  • Veal stock:
    • Blanch the veal bones (cover in a pot with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes, then rinse well with water) so the stock doesn't turn a grayish colour and get cloudy
  • For beef and veal stocks, some advocate adding a blackened onion to give a darker colour and extra flavour
  • If you don't have access to chicken bones or dont have enough to make a stock, you can buy fresh wings instead and still make a good stock
  • Some spices can be added to stocks as well as long as they are not overly assertive in their flavour (e.g. cumin). For example:
    • Cloves give beef and veal stocks a deep, warm, slight spice flavour
    • Fennel seeds/star anise can give fish/seafood stocks a sweet anise flavour
    • Coriander seeds work well with fish and chicken stocks and give it a light citrusy, aromatic spice flavour

Sauce-related TipsEdit

  • If mounting a sauce with butter, do it after all the reduction has been done, do it off the heat, and use cold butter

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