Figures are showing that more people are cooking at home than ever before. This might be apparent in the number of cooking shows, websites, and meal kit services that have popped up in the last few years. No matter if you enjoy a strict recipe or taking off on your own, every chef can benefit from some basic cooking tips.
While having the best appliances, pots, pans, and utensils can make life easier, a talented chef can make a great meal with flawed tools. Don’t fret if you don’t have all of the coolest gadgets and best cast-iron pans. The quality of your meals is ultimately dependent on your dedication.
If you’re looking to step your game up, take some tips that the greatest chefs in the world follow. Here are 10 often overlooked basic cooking tips that can turn your next dish from just plain dinner to a new family favorite.
1. Protect Your Spices
Your spices should be close to your cooking area for convenience. But keeping them in the cabinet above the stove isn’t always the best idea.
Spices need to be stored in a cool, dark place. The heat and humidity emanating from your oven can alter their flavor and cause spices to lose their kick.
2. Let Your Eggs Cook Themselves
If you love fluffy eggs, you need to avoid overcooking them. No matter how you like them, scrambled, fried, or poached, you should take a step back a minute before they’re finished. Turn off the heat source a few minutes early.
Even eggs that still seem runny will continue to be gently cooked by the heat retained by your pan. This will ensure that your eggs turn out nice and fluffy rather than dry and overcooked.
3. Salted Herbs
When you’re chopping herbs, you might notice that they have the tendency to hop around your cutting board. Even your homegrown herbs might try to get away from you.
One way to keep them down is to sprinkle some salt on your cutting board. This will keep your herbs down and allow safer cutting and fewer herbs lost to the kitchen floor.
4. Don’t Fill The Frying Pan
Even if you think there’s still room left in your pan, don’t cram one more piece of chicken or broccoli in there. You might end up keeping the heat from getting around your pan evenly.
Keep an inch between each item so that you can ensure that everything cooks thoroughly. The last thing you want is for people to get sick from undercooked food.
5. Give Your Meat a Minute
The main reason people dislike well-done steaks is the taste of dried out meat. The reason is that most chefs cook the juices out before plating the steak.
To avoid dryness, take your cooked steak and wrap it in aluminum foil before you serve it. This will allow juices to settle before cutting into the meat. Be aware that steaks will continue to cook so if you are aiming for a medium steak, wrap it when it’s medium-rare.
6. Preserve Your Veggies With Paper Towels
One of the most overlooked basic cooking tips is ensuring produce stays fresh. As oxygen tends to quickly age your veggies, try wrapping them loosely in paper towels before putting them in a container.
Additionally, never wash your vegetables until you are ready to eat them. This will keep them lasting longer and tasting fresher whether eaten raw or added to the frying pan.
7. Use the Onion Root To Slice
Onions can drip water all over your cutting surface and make a big, tear-inducing mess. Keep the root on when you peel.
Then slice your onion horizontally. Next cut it vertically to get your onion minced well and maintain control over your cutting.
8. Salt Your Pasta Water
One of the better known basic cooking tips is to add salt to water boiled for pasta. But most people cooking pasta don’t know why.
The main reason is that it will amplify the flavor of your pasta as it cooks. This is especially important when using fresh pasta.
A tablespoon of salted added to a large boiling pot is all that it takes to amp your next pasta dish up a notch.
9. Use Pasta Water In Your Sauce
Save a cup of that pasta water before you dump it all out. If you add that salted, cooked water to your sauce, you’re going to be able to add a whole lot of extra flavor to your dish.
You’ll be adding starch to help bind your sauce when cooking from scratch. Pour it into the skillet with your tomatoes and other ingredients and allow it to cook down with a little bit of tomato paste added.
You’ll impress your guests with the consistency and flavor of your next sauce.
10. Find Your Essentials
One of the basic cooking tips that can’t be taught is to know your own skills well. Know what ingredients you work well with and always keep some essentials on hand.
Having great stuff in your fridge without the essential meat, pasta, or rice to bring it all together might lead you to order pizza instead.
Make a list of what you find you cook with the most. Make these permanent staples when you go out on a shopping trip. Stock up on the dry or freezable goods that you rely on the most.
This will ensure that you’ve always got something on hand that you enjoy cooking and can impress friends and dates with.
Basic Cooking Tips For Every Skill Set
Even the most experienced chefs need a refresher every once in a while. Open yourself up to new approaches and new ingredients whenever possible. Apply your old skills or try something new and you might end up creating a new favorite dish.
Cooking more meals is a great way to stay healthy. If you’re concerned about health and wellness, check out our guide to staying healthy even if you spend your days around the house.