Hobbycooks

Five Ingredients: The Secret to Being a Great Cook

Ways to improve your Cooking

 

Well there is that inner instinct and the need to know something just because: Little things can make a big difference, and knowing a bit more helps to be effective in using kitchen space and the various elements attached to it.

You don’t have to be a pro at everything and you don’t need a certification to become a better cook. There are some little things that you need to make time for to get better for improving your skill and survival.

I have listed a few important things that you definitely need to have to kick start- any thing in the kitchen, before you declare that you can cook!

  1. Whats a cook without a knife? 
  2. Cooking with good or better ingredients
  3. Using your Five senses
  4. Owning appropriate pans to cook
  5. Using kitchen gadgets 

So why do we need the above list to start off?

A Chef’s Knife

In my opinion and experience, a cooks expression comes with a knife in hand to chop and a pan to cook to deliver the finished product. But if the start kicks off with having a blunt knife and not an appropriate one just makes the intended purpose take longer and resulting in efficiency.

So this is not a text book content but common sense, a chef’s knife should be sharp enough and investing in a good one which will last longer will give you speed, control and confidence to begin with.

All purpose knifes like home cooks have…I mean multipurpose one ! The chefs often have knife for definitive purposes.

To cut meat, fillet fish, paring fruits and delicate fruits and vegetables. 

I can offer a number of suggestions, but the choice will be yours personally, as it matters to what you are comfortable with and can afford and the frequency of usage of knives.

My enlightenment to having a sharp knife started years ago when I lost my most trusted and favourite knife when I was moving house and could never ever recover the sense of loss I felt in the kitchen to use a knife which was not for me.

The 3 important ones are-

  • Chef’s knife
  • Serrated knife
  • Pairing knife.

Before I ventured into catering school to learn and use and own a set of  fine collections proudly hosted by my fellow chefs! I quickly realised that it indeed helps to have one which suits you personality and cooking interests. Plus the joy of having an engraved chef’s knife so nobody could nick it! Now that’s another topic to talk about! (Chef’s Stories)

 

Now the home cook in me will need more convincing than documentation so I steadily researched way before social media existed and invested in one good one which was A larger 5.5″ (14cm) santoku knife is considered the standard size blade in Japan which is a Chef’s knife ,used for precision cutting and slicing, chopping and mixing.(All- in -one or waht you might state multipurpose) there are different brand names I’ve used and these are my must -have’s!!

  • Santoku
  • Victorinox 
  • Sabatier  

   While I say its important  to own these knifes but you also need to look after them  to maintain sharpness after continuous use, so investing in a knife sharpener an 

  • electric one
  • sharpening steel or  
  • whetstone 

You need to Hone it to sharpen them. I’ve used all three of them, but I can say for me sharpening steel works! 

Research a lot on this as now Amazon can give you a million suggestions and you will be spoilt for choice, but be practical and remember the thought you got to look after your kitchen knife like your life depends on it!

 

Cooking with Good quality ingredients:

You can’t have a good knife and have a rotten onion, or a wilted spinach , you got to have good quality ingredients which are locally sourced and preferably supporting local farms and farmers, reducing carbon foot print, and also preserving the nutrients maintaining a steady field to fork stuff.

Excellent quality will yield good results and keeping it fresh and accessible . I prefer making fresh bread crumbs compared to buying ready made, this gives me less wastage and saves me a whole lot of money buying artificial enhancers which are not safe and good for your health.

 You can tell by eating a good quality chocolate which are sourced from the  farmers who know their craft, the region and understand the produce.

I am not comparing a coffee bean brewed by a barista to that of an instant coffee made at home, the question is satisfaction too, if you are happy with the taste, the quality..see or hear no more.

The fruit of labour is hard to analyse these days with machines speaking the language of human beings!

Using our hands

 
We all use our hands to  tell a tale in the kitchen, we can learn to appreciate the senstivity and the natural implement our hands can be merely by touching the ,meat,fruit or a vegetable to see if its firm, ripe, cooked! A touch can implicate that we know we are paying attention to the cooking process from start to finish. Our hands can deliver info about the heat, the softness of a dough when kneaded.

 

I would say using our five senses to judge the cooking process from start to finish. There is something fascinating about seeing those vibrant colours, touching them and feeling them and joy and excitement to see afresh lime cut and squeezed into salads or simply making an orange juice,.

I am fascinated by the smell of herbs in my kitchen, garden, or wherever I go. I am specially drawn to vibrant colours , especially in food markets, the red and green peppers, big juicy tomatoes and the feel of dragon fruit, its unusual  look.

But its different scene when it comes to touching meat, marinating it or getting it from you butchers.

When your cooking its really important to touch, we can know how soft the dough is, how hard or soft  the fruit or vegetable is. Touch also indicates the extra care and attention you take to ensure that its edible and fit for purpose.

Its amazing our five senses of sight, sound  taste,touch and smell can do wonders to your well being too. A natural skill not acquired. I call this an basic human instinct.

 

A set of appropriate pans to cook

 
While it might seem unfair to some, but you cannot cook, steam, fry, poach,sautee, boil in one pan! I am sure the student at Uni would have mastered it.

As a home cook, you need these to multitask and not just that but there are pans which are good heat conductors and should be used for that purpose.

Way back it time, people used iron ore vessels, earthen pots to cook, then copper, then aluminium, then steel and now nonstick pans.

While I must say unless you are passionate about cooking different cusuines , lets stick to basics and this helps.

A wide pan, an omelette pan and a  deep one to make stock or soup, a non stick for stirfry  or pancakes.

Using Kitchen Gadgets:

Well for me I love shortcuts, anything that would make it easier in the kitchen, especially when you are doing batch cooking, for events or parties.

I am sure every kitchen has a garlic, press, a tin opener, and juicer.

There are so many in the market and we all spoilt for choice, years ago when I made my first investment to actually buy a electric whisk to make cake batters and trust me you were giving those arms a break in whisking egg, sugar and butter!

Although cooking techniques like roasting, grilling, braising, and sauteing grab all the attention, we all know that having a good steamer, BBQ/grill, a fryer, smoker, and now the modern versions of this all this making it healthier like

  • Ninja air fryer
  • insta pot
  • nutribullet
  •  kitchen aid
  • others

I am sure if you are like me- I love to collect gadgets, fancy pots and pans and Baking stuff. Even when they say Less is more! I seem to think the other way round.

Now you know that these handy self taught skills are the first steps to cooking!

Anybody can cook!!

 

cooking pots

Chef's little secrets

Some Amazing Facts

Know the difference better table salt and Kosher salt
Make stocks from scratch
Always rest your meat before carving
Add a splash of citrus your salads

prepping

Resources which can help you!

Watch Salt ,Acid, Fat heat by Samrin Nosrat

The Flavour Equation by Nik Sharma

The Edible Atlas around the world

Please let me know either way by leaving a comment below!

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