Practice makes perfect, and that is the first rule of thumb you should go by when it comes to improving your culinary skills.
Every professional cook is equipped with a signature set of knives, but what they base their culinary expertise on is actually a set of basic skills.
Whether you’re aspiring to take your cooking to the next level, or you’d just like to be able to replicate your favorite dish in your own kitchen, we believe that these 8 basic culinary skills are a great way to kick off your journey!
1. Master The Cutting Technique
Let’s start with the scariest, and what many people find the trickiest part of the cooking process: the cutting.
Not only is this skill incredibly important to master early on for your safety, but it will also save you a lot of time and energy.
First things first, to properly hold a chef’s knife, you want to position your pinky, middle, and ring finger around the handle, while the forefinger and the thumb should remain on top of the blade.
The key is to wrap the three fingers around the handle, while you pinch the top of the blade with the forefinger and the thumb, which will make it much easier to control the knife and avoid any accidents.
2. A Little Bit of Seasoning Goes a Long Way
You know what they say, you can always add more, but trying to fix an overseasoned dish is usually a lost cause from the start.
While seasonings, herbs, and spices represent the very essence of cooking and you shouldn’t shy away from them, adding a little bit at a time is crucial – especially when it comes to salt and spicy seasonings.
Also, remember to taste the dish before adding more, as following a recipe blindly isn’t always a good strategy. A taste test is your best friend when it comes to preparing delicious recipes.
3. Prioritize kitchen hygiene
While this isn’t necessary a cooking skill, kitchen hygiene plays a major role in your cooking. Learning how to properly take care of your cookware is an important safety factor, but it also affects the longevity of your equipment.
Before washing any of the pans or pots in the dishwasher, remember to check the specifications and see if they are meant to be washed this way.
Instead of a regular sponge, try using a nylon dish brush or dishwasher which will help you get rid of all the hard, sticky stains on the bottom of your pans and pots.
You also want to make sure to wash all the surfaces and the equipment you used immediately after preparing raw meat and fish to prevent any bacteria from spreading in your kitchen.
4. Invest in cookware, seasonings, and spices
The truth is you’ll feel much more motivated to start cooking more (and eating out less) if you stock up on your favorite seasonings, herbs, and spices.
What also makes a huge difference in creating a more esthetically pleasing environment in your kitchen, where you’ll label all the ingredients and finally get those clean-looking containers you were eyeing in the kitchen aisle.
Keep in mind that you don’t need a huge collection of spices and cookware. For starters, invest in a high-quality skillet, saucepan, cutting board, and chef’s knife – and you’re all set!
5. Cook pasta and grains to perfection
Many beginners find it challenging to properly cook pasta and grains without turning them into mush.
When it comes to pasta, remember to use a pot that is big enough, as pasta requires 4-6 qt of water for every pound of pasta. Many people make the mistake of boiling the pasta in a small pot thinking it will cook faster.
What will happen if you cook your pasta in a small pot is that it will easily stick to the bottom of the pot, or even burn if you don’t add enough water.
Before cooking your grains, including rice, barley, and farro, remember to rinse them. This will remove any excess starch which is the reason why your grains turn out mushy and sticky.
Keep in mind that the grains will expand while cooking, which also means that you should go with a bigger pot and more water.
6. Cooking eggs
There are so many ways to prepare eggs it is even hard to name them all. When it comes to using eggs as an ingredient in your cake batter, dough, and sauces, remember to use room-temperature eggs instead of refrigerated ones.
If you’re making hard-boiled eggs, the trick is to set your timer to 11 minutes right after the water starts boiling. Give the eggs an ice bath before returning them to hot water to make the peeling process easier.
Fried eggs that stick to the bottom of the pan can easily ruin your breakfast and your morning appetite. Remember to get the pan extra hot and add enough oil for the eggs to cook properly.
7. Chicken stock is your best friend
Whether you’re making a hearty homemade soup, a delicious pasta sauce, or a stew – chicken stock is the easiest way to develop all those irresistible flavors and aromas without adding too much seasoning.
Chicken stock is the key factor in achieving the desired consistency of the dish and deepening the flavors at the same time, which is why it should replace water in your cooking.
8. Appliances will make your life easier
While we still appreciate the old-school approach that requires nothing but pots, pans, and a source of heat, we still choose to live in a world where the modern and the traditional co-exist in harmony.
You don’t have to worry about purchasing the latest fancy appliances, but a few basic ones will certainly help you along the way.
A good mixer is a must if you’re a baking enthusiast, and we believe that an air fryer will change the way you feel about oil-free food preparation.