Eating is without doubt one of the most fun part of the day, and getting to devour on real foods is something we shouldn’t exchange for anything. Moreover, you can only be so sure with what you’re eating when you yourself actually prepared it. However, it often gets so tiring and bothersome when you are to do all the work alone and there are just so many things to execute to get to that dish you’ve been craving for or you’ve been wanting to try out for ages. So with these handy tips and tricks I’ve listed for you, fear not! Whether you’re preparing for that party you’ve been planning about or just simply cooking for everyday meals, step up your game and finish fast and with ease; get to that meal table still looking fresh!
#1 First things first: Make sure your knives are always sharp
This is a holy rule in the kitchen. Aside from you’ll get to accomplish all the cutting effortlessly and with accuracy, it is also safer- no slipping knives onto your precious fingers.
#2 Review your recipe and finish all the prep before you start
Finish your mise en place! You don’t want to look like a running duck in the kitchen stumbling on every step, only to find out you need that soy sauce tucked inside the top shelf cabinet on the other side of the room.
#3 Briefly stiffen meats in the freezer before cutting
Because why not? No more wobbly meats during cutting.
#4 How to finely dice an onion
After peeling them, cut them in half through the grains, leaving the roots attached. Start with one half with your knife pointing at the roots, cut vertical lines as closely as possible. And then cut as much as 2 to 4 lines through your onion with your knife parallel to the chopping board facing the roots. Lastly, slice through your onions across your first cut, working your way from from left to right (if you’re right handed) or left to right (if you’re left handed), as finely as possible. And voila, finely diced onion! This is also works on other vegetables, so try away!
#5 Salt brings out flavours in food and so does acidity
So go ahead and balance that salt out with acidity when you’re cooking. Or for those who are cutting back on salt, bring that vinegar out and give your cooking dish a little drizzle.
#6 Tenderize cheaper cuts of steaks
It’s not always that we can splurge money on expensive steaks. So whether you’re a meat-aholic or just on a budget, try cutting your meat against the grains. See those long muscle fibers (or lines) running through your meat? Yup, that’s it. Moreover, try marinating it with natural tenderizers such as vinegar, lemon/lime juice, kiwi, papaya, or wine.
#7 Peeling (and cutting) garlic
It gets a bit tedious to cut those little cloves of garlic especially when you’re gonna do a lot. It is always easier to buy peeled ones from the market. But if you ever find yourself stuck with the whole bulb, one easy way to do it is by pounding them using a mallet or a bottle. Enclosing them in a Ziploc or a plastic while doing so is also a good idea.
#8 Cutting and Storing Fresh Herbs
Ever over cut those fresh herbs that it turned to a wet lump and there’s no way you can sprinkle it beautifully over your dish? Don’t ya worry. Enclose it in a tissue or a paper towel and give it a good press to get a dry sprinkle-able garnish.
Now for storing them, one good way, especially for those already cut up, is to freeze them with oil in usable portions. And then just toss them to whatever’s cooking when needed! As to whole herbs, store them loosely in a container with a damp tissue on top, and then cover it lightly with a lid. This also works with leafy greens.
#9 Cracking eggs and fishing broken shells
Crack eggs on a flat surface. For boiled eggs, crack them all the way around and remove the shell in one swoosh. For fresh eggs, just crack them on one side and then easily split in half. Now to remove those infuriating shells that have joined your eggs in the bowl, use the other half of the shell to scoop up the fallen piece. It easily works like a magnet… magic!
#10 Peel ginger using a spoon
It lets you reach through those bumpy parts and you scrape thinner skins, resulting to more yield!
#11 Roll lemons before squeezing
Roll lemons with extra force on a flat surface before squeezing. It becomes easier and you’ll get most of the juices out of it.
#12 Use a twine (and even a floss) to smoothly cut soft cheeses
#13 How to cut bell peppers
No waste cutting: Cut through the natural dents of the pepper to make several slivers. Then snip off the slivers from the stem. And voila! Just continue cutting them to desired size.
#14 Prevent oxidation
Submerge potatoes in water right away after peeling and cutting. Submerge apples in water with salt or lemon juice or just brush them with it.
#15 Keep pots from boiling over
Just put a wooden spoon over the boiling pot. Science!
#16 Maximize flavour on pasta
Do not put oil on the salted water when boiling. It keeps the sauce from sticking to the pasta afterwards. The best way to get full flavours is to slightly undercook it during boiling and then continue cooking it with the sauce.
#17 Season your food from start to end
That is to bring out most of the flavour from the ingredients. But careful, dear. Do not fully season it yet especially when your soup or sauce is still reducing. Slowly but surely.
These are my top 17 tips, and there’s sure a lot more than you can imagine. It just takes a lot of practice and mistakes to get used to it, and more cooking to discover more helpful tricks. Cooking is just like any task you get better the more you do it.