Here are a few things I’ve learned over the past few years, if you have anything else, please comment below!
If its bland, add Salt
You’ve added herbs, you’ve used excellent quality ingredients with a tasty and healthy oil. Then you take a bite….and it doesn’t taste like anything. Don’t be sad (yet), sometimes you need to wake up the taste buds by adding some salt. I know salt has been vilified for the past few decades, but trust me, adding a bit of salt if you’re generally healthy is not going to hurt. Try it before you do something more drastic (like ordering out).
Fat doesn’t evaporate, don’t just hope your sauce or meat will thicken…
If you saute something like chicken or ground beef, and you have a puddle of liquid sitting in your pan. DO NOT just keep cooking hoping it will thicken into some sort of glaze. It won’t. You need to either pour out some of the fat or add something to make it thicken and stick like some sort of starch. Yes, you might end up pouring out some seasoning (if you added it already), which means chances are, you’ll need to reseason it. Next time cook first, add seasoning towards the end, but either way, it isn’t unfixable unless you overcook it….
Don’t be afraid to use heat
Sometimes, you’ll need to use high heat to keep food juicy. For example, you want to make a steak stir fry like you might have at Benny Hanna. If you cook at too low of a temperature, you end up with gray meat all the way through.
Typically what you really want, is brown on the outside, pink on the inside. That is the ticket to juicy delicious meat (along with salt)! In order to have that brown on the outside and pink on the inside, you need the meat on the outside to hit around 300 degrees (150 C) before the inside cooks, so you need the pan to be hot, then take the steak out QUICK. Same thing with chicken. Go to a chinese restaurant and watch the chef cook, they’ll cook at extreme temperatures often, and things come out delicious. The key for that style is to chop the ingredients small enough that the insides cook enough even from a short time in the heat while the outsides caramelize.
Don’t overcook your food
Look, I get it, some people just like their food more well done. I could try to brow beat you into liking medium well, I could give you links to reports related to cancer and well done meat, but honestly, I don’t care. If you like well-done meat, that is fine, but don’t overcook it! I know what you’re thinking, didn’t I just say that you shouldn’t be afraid to use heat? High heat allows you to cook the outside before the inside gets overcooked, regardless if that seems contrary to each other.
Not overcooking your food means you should always stop cooking early, because you can always cook it more, but you can’t cook it less. Heck, if you like your food well done, there are a variety of techniques like low and slow Texas style beef ribs that come out AMAZING. If someone complains that you under-cooked their food, just toss it back in a pan at high temperature. If someone complains that you overcooked their food….guess its time to order in.
If grill marks are so good, cover your food in them
Look, grill marks are delicious. Crispy bits on your meat. Stop trying to make them! We get it, you leave the meat on the grill long enough, you have delicious lines. You know whats better? An entire giant grill mark. Move your meat on the grill to try and get the entire bottom to be caramelized.