”4 Easy Steps to Improve Your Cooking” is a collaborative post. Please see the disclosure page for more information. Disclaimer – always verify medical information with your doctor or a professional.
Whether or not you consider yourself to be particularly proficient at cooking, it is something that you might have always wanted to try and improve upon. After all, everyone loves a good meal! If you can become that one person that people think of as the good cook of the group, you can be sure that it will lead to great things. Wherever you are starting from, there are plenty of steps you can take in order to improve your cooking in no time at all. In this article that is what we are going to try and get to the bottom of. What is it that will really improve your cooking, and how easily can you learn and utilize those things?
Hopefully, you should be able to improve your cooking now by just considering some of the following things…
The Elements Of Cooking
There has been a lot of talk, and plenty of books written, around the elements of cooking. It is not really a hard science, but more of an art – and yet it is one that you can get better at through study and diligent practice. There are certain elements to cooking which you can consider if you want to improve your own meals, and one of the ways to look at this is based on a book and series of lessons by renowned chef Samin Nosrat. His way of looking at the basic elements of cooking is known as ‘salt fat acid heat’ after the four elements that he considers to be the most important of all.
Looking at each of these in turn, we can appreciate how important they might be to cook any meal as well as possible. Salt is obviously important as a taste enhancer, and there are very few savory dishes which don’t use any salt at all, or at least something in its place such as soy sauce in Thai cooking. The main trick here is ensuring that you are using the right amount – but you also need to think about when you are seasoning the meal too. In many cases, the best method is to add a tiny amount of salt at various stages of the cooking. If you add it all at the end, you are unlikely to really have the same effect, and you might just end up with a big taste of salt on top of the meal. Get this right, and your cooking will already be much improved, so it’s an important place to start.
As for fat, this is where much of the flavor actually originates from. Salt may enhance it, but without any fat at all, there is nothing to enhance. This is true even of something simple like a walnut – it is its fatty aspect which makes it delicious. So you need to make sure that you are controlling the fatty element of your dish well if you hope for there to be any flavor in it whatsoever. This also applies to how you cook the food, as usually you will need to use some kind of fat – oil, butter – in order to cook something off in the first place. Clearly, that is going to affect the dish to some degree or another.
Acid & Heat
These two elements are simple enough for most people to understand, but the next one might not be something you think about quite as much. Indeed, you might even be wondering what we could possibly mean by ‘acid’. But it’s very simple, and understanding this is enough to elevate your cooking to a really much more enjoyable level indeed. The acid in a dish is anything that provides a sharp contrast. Often, this will be something like a citrus fruit, as in the case of many seafood dishes and Asian cuisine. But it doesn’t have to be – it might also be one of the many kinds of vinegars, or it could even be provided by wine or cider. But the important takeaway here is that knowing how and when to use the acidic part of the meal is hugely central to rounding off the whole taste.
Finally, we have heat. If you can manage the heat that goes into whatever you are cooking, you can produce better food in no time. A steak requires a different management of heat to a pork belly, and appreciating the difference is central to making your cooking much better.
Try out these ideas and you will find that you are producing better meals in no time at all.