If you have your mind set on cooking but don’t have any experience, don’t let it stop you from learning. Every chef had to start somewhere and it’s no different for an amateur cooking enthusiast. If you’re getting your first dose of experience in the kitchen, don’t fret. Everything gets better with practice, and the more practice you put in, the more confident you’ll grow in your skills. To build up your culinary repertoire, following these five tips for amateur cooks:
Don’t Put Too Much on the Pan
It’s not uncommon to try and do too much with too little. Putting too much on the pan is a common error for newbies. This mistake happens when the right-sized pan isn’t used or when cooks are simply stuffing as much as they can onto the surface of the pan. Crowded pans begin to steam instead of brown because it restricts the space food needs to release moisture as it’s cooked. Give your food the space it needs to breathe, and you’ll be rewarded with the right texture and taste.
Buy Fresh Spices
You get what you pay for when it comes to ingredients. If you’ve been holding onto spices for years that you’ve never used, it may be time to invest in some new items for your spice rack. Don’t put too much stock into the sell-by date; a quick sniff will reveal much more. Quality spices will still have a decent amount of potency in their smell, and if you can’t smell the spice, it probably won’t add much value to your dish. When possible, head over to the farmer’s market for some fresh items.
Use Guided Tutorials
Many people learn by seeing how others do. Leverage the power of guided tutorials on platforms like YouTube, which offers plenty of cooking advice for the novice chef. Some tutorials that are helpful to see include cutting techniques, garnishing tricks, searing, and much more. You can watch several videos on the same techniques to see how different professionals approach various tips.
Learn How to Read a Recipe
Reading a recipe doesn’t guarantee that the meal will come out just as you’d expect. In fact, many people make basic mistakes that compromise the integrity of a recipe. Think about it: just because two people have the same recipe doesn’t mean that recipe will be interpreted the same and that the resulting two meals will actually taste similarly. When you’re preparing a dish for the first time, knowing how to properly read the recipe is crucial to its success.
First and foremost, take the time to sit down and read the recipe without writing things down or diving in headfirst. Rather than take a cursory glance, give it the attention it deserves by reading it multiple times uninterrupted. After you’ve read it several times, highlight areas that require special procedures, like soaking beans, bringing butter to room temperature, or changing temperatures. Gather your equipment and ingredients ahead of time to give you a high-level overview of what needs to be done when you get to the grocery store.
Lastly, don’t forget to use spiralized cooking notebooks so that you can easily reference your recipes in the kitchen. Take it up a note with a recipe book stand. Learn more here: https://www.spiralizedbooks.com/.
Store Ingredients Properly
Many people don’t correctly store their ingredients, and find that this can compromise affect the integrity of the food. For example, there are many foods that are often refrigerated that should be. This includes hot sauce, butter, syrup, jams, and citrus fruits. Many people also tend to refrigerate tomatoes, which is a major flavor drainer and will destroy its texture.
Invest in the Right Tools
Learning how to use knives in the kitchen will go a long way. Any chef is only as good as the tools they use, and you’ll find that cheap knives behave very differently from professional knives. Some vegetables are more tricky to cut than others, like tomatoes, onions, and avocados. Knowing how to cut them will save you plenty of prep time in the long run and give you better results.
This means no spending small bucks on a large set of knives. For starters, get yourself a proper chef’s knife. You’d be amazed at the difference it makes, especially when you’re trying different cutting techniques. Don’t put your professional knives in the dishwasher, and make it a priority to get them professionally sharpened at least once per year. Additionally, you also want to invest in cast iron cookware. Although they’re harder to take care of, they’re phenomenal at heat control and highly durable.