Career Advice - A Community Blog

Erik Larson writes about the job market, resume improvement, and career advice

How to become a cooking expert

Written by Erik Larson, Community Blogger | Sep 11, 2017 5:39 PM

If you want to learn a simple skill that can improve your quality of life every day, cooking is an excellent choice. You'll be able to use fresh, natural ingredients for your meals instead of warming up unhealthy, processed foods, which will result in you looking and feeling better. Your meals will taste better, and you can try whatever new flavors you want.

Whatever your current cooking skill level may be, follow these steps in the kitchen to instantly improve.

1. Start with what you're using

A properly balanced 8" inch chef's knife that meets functionality with style is a chef's dream as it is an extension to the chef's arm says Jamil Bouchareb, CEO of Restaurantware.  Any chef is only as good as his tools and his ingredients. You don't need to spend hundreds of dollars on the fanciest kitchen gear, but you should have the basic items, such as pots and pans. Make sure you have a high-quality chef's knife that you keep nice and sharp.

Spend a little extra time in the grocery store checking out ingredient options. There can be many different varieties of the same item available. Of course, most important is getting everything you need, and it's a good idea to double check your recipe before you leave the store.

2. Get Comfortable Working with Your Hands

You're going to use your hands for just about everything you do in the kitchen. Need to season a few steaks? You'll get the most precise, even flavors if you sprinkle seasoning in your hands first, and then put it on the steaks. Making burgers for dinner? The best way to form those patties is by hand.

Don't be shy about using your hands when you're cooking, even if you're worried about being clumsy. As you use them more, you'll get much better at it.

3. Learn How to Chop, Flip and Perform Other Crucial Cooking Moves

There are several moves that you'll need to get familiar with if you want to cook a variety of dishes. Chopping up foods is something you'll do all the time, and to ensure that foods are done at the same time, you'll need to chop pieces that are the same size.

Certain dishes require you to flip the food in a pan. Try doing this with food that won't make a big mess first - beans are a great choice.

Eggs are a common ingredient, and some dishes require quite a few of them. It's a good idea to practice cracking them with one hand in case you need to multitask.

4. Add a Bit of Seasoning at a Time

When it comes to your seasonings, you should typically add them as soon as possible to the dish. This allows the food to take on more of the seasoning's flavor and the seasoning will be able to cook with your food.

Don't go crazy with your seasonings, as too much can ruin a dish. Instead, taste tests your dish when it's done and see if it needs anything. If it's a bit flat, try salting to taste, which is when you sprinkle a bit of salt on to see if that helps. Continue adding pinches of salt as needed. Remember that when you taste, the dish shouldn't be salty. The salt simply brings out the flavors of the dish.

If it's still a bit bland after you've added some salt, try some lemon juice or white vinegar to add a little acid. This is a great way to enhance other flavors.

5. Know When to Take a Step Back

The number-one beginner mistake in the kitchen is micromanaging the food by constantly moving it around and checking on it as it cooks. Moving food doesn't help it cook, and in fact, it can detract from the food's flavor.

When you're cooking something, give it time, especially if you're cooking it in a pan. Wait for a few minutes while it browns because this is when it can build those juicy flavors.

If you stick to these steps, you can put together a delicious meal for yourself and as many guests as you want.

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