Cooking is an invaluable skill, but sometimes it can take a long time to master the art.
Professional chef and restaurant owner Johnathan Law has revealed the top mistakes of amateurs on Quora.
Law, who operates The Year of the Ram Cafe and Diner in Shenzhen, China, said that most of these mistakes are easily avoidable once you know about them.
1. Overseasoning. Law said he used to use a dozen spices to season his dishes, but it only confused his palate. “A good dish should have at most 3-4 different primary flavours, coupled with some aromatics,” he writes.
2. Underheating the pan. If you’re stir-frying or searing meat, the pan should heat for 5-7 minutes, Law writes. “I have fired an employee before for consistently failing to do this,” he said.
3. Constantly stirring food with a spatula or spoon. “Lots of people seem to think of sauteing as simply cooking something on high heat, and it’s not,” Law said. “The idea is to make sure the foods being sauteed never steam in the pot, and that means constantly ‘jumping’ the food, not stirring it with a spatula.”
4. Not using an oven thermometer for baked goods. This $US10 instrument ensures your cakes or brownies turn out perfect, Law said.
5. Adding too much liquid to a braise. “I’ve seen some people add enough water or wine to a braise that the meat is nearly completely submerged,” Law writes. “NO! Don’t do that! There’s a difference between boiling and braising!”
6. Substituting baking ingredients because they taste similar. Make sure you know the chemical properties of the items you’re using before doing this, Law says. Otherwise, the consistency of your dish could be totally off.
7. Adding too much starch to thicken sauces. People get impatient prematurely and add flour or cornstarch to thicken sauces, Law explains. But it’s better to wait. “If you add too much starch, you will end up with a bland, grainy, nasty sauce,” he says.
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