Cooking is a useful life skill we all should learn and develop through our life. Some learned to cook when they were still children with the guidance of their parents, some when they start living on their own, and some found their interest in cooking.
Learning how to cook is important as we all need food to survive and home cooking allows us to control the ingredients in our food thus improve our health, save money, be more creative, express ourselves, and show affection to our loved ones by serving them their favorite food or sharing with them our new found recipe. Cooking is much better than depending on restaurants, take out, or instant meals.
So where do we start to learn how to cook? Here are 5 essentials you need to understand.
Methods. Once you learn the basic procedures of cooking, you’ll realize you can cook different recipes as most foods are cooked using these basic procedures but just differ in ingredients. The most common methods in cooking are roast, sauté, stir-fry, and stew. Roasting is as simple as putting meat with oil and salt in the oven at 300 to 350°F. Sautéing is cooking small pieces of food with small amount of oil into medium heat until it is brown or cooked, turning the ingredients for a few times. Stir-frying is similar to sauté but with higher heat and faster action. Stew starts with sautéing the ingredients first then adding water and boil until the ingredients are tender.
Ingredients. The fun of cooking is choosing your own ingredients and knowing their taste and cooking period. It is good to try different ingredients and develop an understanding of their combined flavor and to know the right time when to add a certain ingredient. For instance, in stew you can’t add meat and vegetables at the same time as the vegetables will be cooked in just a few minutes while meat takes longer time to cook. Meat should be tender before adding the vegetables to make the recipe right.
Spices. Although they come in small amounts, spices play a big role in every recipe. They make or break the taste of the food. If you are observant, you notice that different cuisines depend for their distinct flavor on spices. Cantonese cooking base their flavor with garlic, ginger, and scallion. Indian recipes mostly have ginger, garlic, turmeric, cumin, and curry powder. Italian foods have tomato sauce and herbs. While Japanese foods have mirin, dashi broth, nori, and soy sauce.
Sauce. There are endless of recipes that requires sauce including pasta, salad, and dry foods such as fried and grilled. Sauce adds moisture, flavor, and color to the food making them more appetizing. Butter heated with herbs and flavorings are great for fish, vegetables, and chicken. Oils and vinegar sauces are good for vegetable salads. Sauces with egg yolks, mayonnaise, vegetable oil, and herbs taste good with lamb, vegetables, and fish. Tomato sauce with herbs and spices are of course perfect for pasta. Lastly, fruit sauces such as apple, cranberry, and blueberry sauce are good condiments for meats.
Lifelines. Of course, when you are still learning how to cook it is okay to ask people when you have no idea on what to do or what’s going on. A quick phone call to a friend or to a family member will give you the answer quickly. There are also Google and YouTube that can provide your needed information in just the tips of your fingers.