Ask your parents or grandparents how long they took to know their signature recipes like the back of their hand, and they’ll confirm that it can take years of practise to master a dish.
Well, if you’ve started on your cooking journey, consider time saved because we got you covered with these 6 kitchen hacks gathered from experts! Read on to speed-learn skills that normally come with lots of trial and error.
1. Thaw ingredients overnight
Don’t you just hate it when you’re ready to cook, but your ingredients are still too frozen to be used? Well, here’s a tip! Prepare the frozen meat or ingredient on a (metal) plate and place it in the refrigerator overnight for it to thaw.
A great recipe to test this skill out is the 30 Mins Scallops Rice Recipe in a Rice Cooker. Start thawing the seafood the night before and you’ll have the perfectly thawed and tasty seafood in this simple rice cooker recipe.
That said, don’t ever leave your frozen meat out at room temperature for over 2 hours! It is sufficient time for harmful bacteria to grow and we do not like that. It is also important to note that you should not refreeze any food that has already been thawed! Check out some frozen chicken and other frozen food recipes here!
2. Soy sauce for burns
Accidentally burnt yourself while dealing with splattering hot oil? Try this out: place soy sauce over the affected area after running it under cold water! Yes, you heard right.
The traditional kitchen condiment can not only be used for recipes like Chow Mein, but also alleviate pain and redness that accompany burns. It is also helpful in preventing the area from blistering. For example, if you accidentally touch some hot oil while whipping up this Cantonese Soy Sauce Noodles recipe, it’s lucky you’ll have soy sauce within arm’s reach.
However, take note that this only applies for minor burns. For more severe burns, please visit the doctor immediately for proper medical care.
3. Store your ingredients smartly
Now this is an interesting one. Do you know that the way you store your ingredients can affect its freshness? For one, wrapping your veggies with kitchen towels will help to keep them fresh longer as these towels absorb the moisture surrounding the vegetables; water speeds up the rotting process of veggies.
You can also try to freeze your chilis, as their skin protects the chilli in the frozen state. If you wish to preserve them for an even longer period of time (up to one year!), you can also choose to flash freeze the chilis — spreading chilis on a baking sheet in the freezer, and transferring frozen chilis to an airtight bag for storage.
Lastly, plants with roots, such as spring onions and corianders, can be stored in jars of water to prevent dehydration. This helps to keep these vegetables fresh for a longer time as well!
This tip will be useful for many vegetarian recipes, such as Thunder Tea Rice, Lontong Sayur Lodeh and Nyonya Chap Chye where fresh vegetables are truly the star.
4. Prep meats and fish strategically
As a beginner in cooking, I have to admit that preparing raw ingredients such as meats and fish usually gives me a big headache. However, here are some tricks to make them more delicious!
Firstly, always marinate fresh meat to mask the gaminess. Should you need to add cornstarch to the meat, add it last as the cornstarch acts as the final binder of the entire mixture, like in this nostalgic Hakka Zhar Yoke Recipe. Here, we use a mouthwatering mix of ginger, garlic, oyster sauce, fish sauce and cornstarch to give the pork an irresistible oomph.
When it comes to cutting the meat, always cut the meat into uniform pieces so that the meat can be cooked more evenly. Specifically for beef, cut it across the grain so that the meat will turn out to become more tender. We use this trick in our Hainanese Braised Beef Noodle recipe to get tender slices with the signature shiok mouthfeel.
Lastly, when the meat or poultry is being cooked, ensure that the wok is pre-heated till high temperature so that there will be no slow rise in temperature and food can be cooked quickly.
Try your hand at these tricks with our stir-fried ginger and scallion beef or fish soup recipe!
5. Hot Pan, Cool Oil for Wok Hei
Always wondered how cooks manage to achieve the perfect ‘wok hei’ taste in their dishes? For example, when done right, this Eggplant with Salted Fish and Minced Pork recipe has that hint of charred flavour and smokiness that is often hard to achieve at home.
Well, the answer to getting it is simple: only add in the oil when the wok is heated over high heat. This is also known as the ‘Hot Pan, Cool Oil’ tip, which is well known by many asian households. This tip supposedly reduces the sticking of food onto the wok, as oil tends to vaporise very quickly once added.
For more practice, try this with our Penang Char Kway Teow and Hokkien Mee recipes and you might find yourself pleasantly surprised!
6. Swap out parboil with microwave
Many experts have affirmed the benefits of partially-boiling (‘parboiling’) vegetables before stir-frying them. It is recommended to parboil the veggies with some salt, drain it and transfer them into very cold water. Indeed, this helps with keeping the veggies crunchy and aids in speeding up the cooking process.
However, do you know that there is a much easier way to accomplish the same results? Just between the lazy people here, the secret is the humble microwave. Yes, you can absolutely eat vegetables that are steamed in the microwave! Ditch the long parboiling process – you just need to add 3 tablespoons of water over the bowl of broccoli to prevent over-absorption of moisture from the vegetables themselves. In just 5 minutes or even less, you get your perfectly steamed veggie.
Test this out and follow the plating suggestion in this Scallop and Broccoli recipe for a restaurant-worthy dish.
It’s time to work some magic, and you can do so with the help of our healthy homecooked recipes!
Asian Kitchen Hacks
There you have it, our list of highly prized tips for you to get around the kitchen with greater ease! Be it your next meal prep or reunion lunch with the family, you know you can always count on these hacks to make life just slightly simpler.
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