If we’ve learned nothing else from Salt Bae, we’ve learned this: the whole world loves a man who can cook.
You don’t need his meme-worthy seasoning skills to win hearts and tempt tastebuds, but every guy should have a basic understanding of how to manoeuver in a kitchen without embarrassing himself.
Take the first steps towards chef status (and maybe internet stardom, too) by learning the rookie cooking mistakes it’s time to stop making.
Not Reading The Full Recipe
Enthusiasm is great in the kitchen, but not at the expense of accuracy. Though your inner overachiever wants to dive right in and start sautéing, tell him to cool it until you’ve had a chance to read the entire recipe from start to finish. You don’t want to make it halfway through only to realise you’re missing an essential ingredient or piece of equipment.
Missing Your Mise
Mise en place is a French culinary term that refers to putting everything in its place. Chefs use it to describe their pre-cooking setup – the art of organisation and preparation that doesn’t just look great in Instagram photos, but also makes you a more efficient cook. Streamline the process by having all your ingredients prepped and portioned, and all necessary equipment laid out, before the real cooking begins. You’ll never accidentally salt twice or let something burn on the stove while you’re searching for the next ingredient.
Overcrowding The Pan
Think about how much you hate public transportation during rush hour. Don’t subject your food to the same crowded treatment. When you squeeze too much into a pan, the temperature is lower, there’s too much moisture, and you’ll wind up with uneven cooking. Invest in a larger pan, cook with two at once, or work in batches (especially if you’re cooking meat).
Using The Wrong Knife
Anthony Bourdain is adamant that knife sets are a waste of money, and we’re in no position to argue, but we will point out that so many different options exist for a reason. After all, every tool in your toolbox isn’t suited for every job, is it? Give yourself a crash course education in which knives are meant for which tasks, and edit your collection accordingly. There’s no reason to own all the knives, but there’s no reason not to own the ones you’ll actually use.
Adding Ingredients To A Cold Pan
In the kitchen, as in the bedroom, going in cold is a bad idea. You need to warm things up before diving in. There are a few exceptions to the rule, but on the whole, ingredients should never touch a cold pan. A hot pan is key to preventing food from sticking and to providing a nice sear, so get the stove lit before any oil or food gets involved.
Cooking Meat Straight From The Fridge
That warming up thing? It applies to meat and fish, too. Don’t cook with protein fresh from the fridge. Letting it sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before cooking allows a piece of meat to cook more evenly. The icky alternative is a slab of protein that’s overcooked on the outside and undercooked, or raw, at the centre. We appreciate rare meat as much as the next guy, but that’s not the way to do it.
Forgetting To Sample
Not only are you allowed to sample your work as you go, you should taste it. An improperly seasoned dish will end up unbalanced – either tasteless and dull, or totally overpowering. The only way to know if you’re on the right track is to help yourself to a bite. And then another. And another. Don’t be afraid to taste again and again, lest you drop something unpalatable in front of important dinner guests.