Contrary to popular belief, being a chef is not all about having natural talent, sometimes it’s about the skills you pick up along the way. Being surrounded by professional chefs does help you in that regard. You are able to learn lifelong cooking tips and tricks that can elevate your dish to the next level.
I’m here to share some of the things I’ve learned in my career as a professional chef, without further ado let’s get into the cooking tips other chefs won’t apart from.
Always be prepared with mise en place
Working as a professional chef teaches you the importance of having your mise en place—everything in its proper place. It’s the most effective approach to maintaining your composure in a professional kitchen. Professional chefs spend hours slicing meats, veggies, and herbs so they’re ready to throw into the pan when needed. If you’re not prepared, you’ll feel overwhelmed and lost, which means your chef will probably yell at you a lot. In the kitchen, mise en place means happier, faster cooking.
If you add salt towards the end, your food will taste salty rather than seasoned. Rather, season as you go. Add a sprinkle of salt to the onions as they sweat. Season your meat before cooking it, and then season it again after deglazing. You’ll have a collection of complex flavor layers towards the end of the cooking time that will make your dish stand out.
Dry spices are better when toasted
Dried spices are a must-have in any kitchen, but adding them towards the end of the cooking process might be detrimental to your cuisine. If you don’t activate their essential oils and aromatic compounds, they can taste dry and chalky. Allow whole spices to bloom by toasting them in a dry pan before grinding. Alternatively, after sweating onions in oil for about a minute before deglazing the pan, add ground spices.
Every pan must be deglazed
Little particles stick to the bottom of a hot pan when cooking meat and veggies. Fond is a term used in classical French cooking to describe the base of a magnificent pan sauce. It’s simple to incorporate those amazing flavor nuggets into your finished dish by deglazing a pan with wine, broth, juice, brandy, or plain water.
Sometimes, the leftovers taste better
If you’re going to make soups, stews, or sauces, you might want to start the day before. The components have a chance to come together and blend as the food cools and rests in the refrigerator, making it more savory and rich-tasting the next day.
Hot hold food in a low-temperature oven
It’s impossible to finish everything at once when frying food for a large group. If all of the ingredients were added to the saucepan at the same time, the temperature of the oil would drop, making the food sad and soggy. Rather, keep the finished food warm in a 250° F oven while you continue to fry. This method works for pancakes, waffles, and fritters, among other things.
Don’t rinse pasta after cooking it
This rule does have one exception: you can cook spaghetti for pasta salad by rinsing it in cold water. You don’t need to rinse the noodles to stop the cooking process if you’re eating them hot. Pasta doesn’t have a lot of carryover cooking, to begin with, and the extra water washes away the starchy layer, making the sauce less likely to stick.
Blanch vegetables to brighten them up
Have you ever wondered why the vegetables in restaurant salads are so much brighter and more brilliant than those in the grocery store? They may appear chilly on the platter, but it does not imply that they were not cooked! Blanching vegetables in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes brings out their vibrant color without overcooking them. Every time, they’ll come out tender-crisp and wonderful.
Save bones and vegetable scraps
The most convenient approach to prepare broth at home is to have a stockpile of components ready to go in the freezer. In a freezer-safe bag, toss onion tops, carrot peels, and mushroom stems, and keep meat scraps and bones separate. Put them in a pot and cover them with water when you have some free time. Simmer for a while and you’ll have a delicious broth!
Use fresh herbs
Fresh herbs make a huge difference in your cooking, elevating a simple dish to something unexpected and amazing. Pungent chopped green onions, piney rosemary, and herbaceous cilantro are just a few examples of flavor combinations that may really take things to the next level. Add them as a final touch or use them to make a gremolata-style topping.
Add a swirl of butter to sauces
One of my favorite restaurant secrets is to swirl in a pat of cold butter shortly before serving a tomato sauce to make it taste richer and have a glossy sheen. This is known as moneter au beurre in French cuisine. It’s the quickest and easiest way to boost the flavor of a sauce with no effort.