These tricks have created more sustainable systems for the kitchen brigade and more importantly, better-tasting food. Food that is prepared by professionals is delicious for a reason. We’ve put together a list of these hacks and tricks so you can try them at home.
They usually say that if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Being exposed to real-life kitchen pressure and Hollywood, we know that many have been kicked out of kitchens and we often wonder, how do those who are left inside get through all of this? It’s through creating hacks! Here are 15 cooking tricks used by chefs to make things more efficient.
A kitchen is a hot place and we don’t just mean temperature-wise. There are obviously different kinds of kitchens from the garde manger meaning the cold kitchen, to the hot kitchen, to the pastry kitchen that also houses a hot area and a chocolate room.
The main thing that all of these kitchens have in common is that the pressure is on to make something great and to expedite them perfectly. Given the kitchen pressure, chefs have created hacks and tricks to make utilize ingredients well and to make their lives easier in the kitchen.
1. Mise en place
Mise en place is a culinary term used to describe the organizing of ingredients and equipment before cooking. Mise en place is a very important step to follow when cooking because it allows you to be more organized. When you do mise en place, you avoid running out to the store to buy ingredients that are missing in the middle of cooking, for example.
Professional chefs strictly follow this cooking step to allow for a more efficient and sustainable process in the kitchen.
2. Cover Herbs with Damp Cloth
Herbs tend to wilt fast after picking. One way to prolong the quality of the herbs is to store them loosely in a container covered with a damp kitchen paper towel. The “cold atmosphere” around the herbs will keep them plump for a longer time.
3. Salt and Squeeze
Some vegetables and fruits that you use for cooking contain a lot of water. In order to lessen the amount of liquid from these vegetables (if you don’t need it), is to salt them and squeeze out the liquid. The salt eliminates a good amount of liquid from the veggies. Try this with cucumber!
We often use the zest of citrus fruit for anything sweet or savory. The subtle flavor that the zest gives the dish makes a big difference in flavor. However, extracting the zest from the skin can be tricky. You must be careful to lightly pass the skin of the fruit through the microplane because anything deeper will touch the bitter part of the citrus fruit that you do not want at all.
5. Score the tomatoes
Tomato concasse is a very common way of preparing tomatoes and it is mostly adding to salads or topped on a slice of bread for bruschetta. The skin is ideally removed from the tomato. In order to do this, you must quickly blanch the tomato in boiling water and then transfer them to a bowl of ice to stop the cooking. Score “X” the bottom of the tomatoes with a knife to easily remove the skin when it’s ready.
6. Towel under chopping board
When you’re doing your mise en place for a huge dinner and you have to chop so many vegetables and meat, it’s important to make your workstation comfortable and safe. Chopping boards, although flat, aren’t always even with the table and it moves most especially when you’re putting pressure on it. Place a damp towel under the chopping board to stabilize it while chopping.
7. Label, label, label
In a professional kitchen, food safety is very important. In-home kitchens, food safety should be very important as well. One thing to help you avoid food-borne illnesses is to label your ingredients and the food you make. If you’re making a batch of macaroni and cheese that you like freezing and thawing out as you please, label it. The label will keep you on track with how long it’s been since you cooked it. If it goes beyond certain dates, then you know it’s no longer good.
8. Ginger and a spoon
Ginger is one of those spices that could be very annoying to peel. Some people don’t even bother and just leave the skin on. One very easy way of peeling off the skin of ginger is by using a spoon. Scrape the skin off the ginger using a spoon.
If you’re chopping more than 1 head of garlic, you’re in for a ride. Garlic can be annoying to break apart. The cloves are tightly gathered together, joined by its base. Cut off the base of the garlic to easily break the cloves apart.
10. Double Fry for that extra crunch
Double frying is used in a lot of restaurants. Fast food restaurants use it the most. Why do you think the fried chicken is so crispy when you eat out? Double fry your deep-fried dishes in order to make them extra crispy. Double fry the chicken, potatoes fries, and even potato chips!
11. Pre-boil eggs for poached eggs
Are you a serious fan of eggs ben? This one’s for you. Eggs Benedict has poached eggs in it. Making poached eggs can be super frustrating. One thing you can do to avoid breaking the yolk when poaching the egg is to pre-boil it quickly.
12. Utilize stalks and skin
Utilizing all the parts of the ingredient is ideal in the kitchen. If you have carrot skin, celery stalk and other discards from vegetables, make use of them by adding to the stock or stews. If you’re adding these to the stew, make sure to remove them right before cooking. If you’re adding them to the stock, just strain it later on. The addition of these discards creates a more flavorful dish.
13. Add salt as you go
Seasoning is actually a tricky part of cooking. Some people add salt in the beginning and some add in the end. We like adding salt and we go along the way because it allows the seasoning to gradually season the dish.
14. Always have ice nearby
Ice is actually very important in the kitchen not just because it quenches our thirst but it stops a lot of food from becoming overcooked. When you strain cooked pasta for salads, place it in a bowl of ice to cool it right away to stop it from cooking through. Most food cook through even if they’re off the heat. If you want to stop the food from cooking through, have a bowl of ice nearby.
15. Toast your nuts
Always toast your nuts before adding to any kind of food. Nuts are delicious but they’re even better when you maximize these flavors and fragrances. Toast the nuts on a stovetop or in the oven so that it releases the oil and its flavors.