September 06, 2018
When it comes to good cooking, you don’t need to go to a cooking school to become a better cook. In cooking, it’s the little things that make the difference and there are countless simple things you can do every time you cook to get better and more professional results. Here are 10 ways how you can let your Sri Lankan recipes shine:
1- Get a better grip on our chef’s knife
For better control when chopping or slicing, get a firm grip on the handle of the knife to the point of putting your thumb and side of your index finger onto the side of the knife blade, right above the handle. Also, when it comes to knives, make sure you invest in a good chef’s knife and keep it sharp too. The longer, wider side of the knife blade will give you speed, control, and confidence when using a knife.
2- Use the best ingredients whenever possible
Imported Parmigiano- Reggiano is going to taste so much better than the regular domestic parmesan cheese; the two types can hardly even be compared. Good quality chocolate makes all the difference in desserts and fresh, homemade breadcrumbs are always better than packaged breadcrumbs. The same goes for chicken products – premium chicken products from Bairaha, for example, will make a world of a difference in a dish.
3- Use your hands
Your hands are very sensitive yet sophisticated cooking tools. You can further develop the sense of touch by paying attention to how different the food you’re cooking feels at different levels of doneness, even as you check with a toothpick, a knife, or a thermometer. For example, meat goes from being soft when it’s rare to the firm when it’s well done. Touch can also help you figure out when a cake is fully baked if the dough is kneaded well enough and if a fruit has ripened sufficiently.
4- Be wise with salt
While Sri Lankan recipes should never taste salty, going to the other extreme by using little or no salt at all in your cooking will result in food that will taste flat and bland. Even if recipes in Sri Lanka suggest an amount of salt to you, remember that the ingredients that you have to choose as well as your palette can be different from the recipe. So, make sure to adjust salt to your taste.
5- Never crowd the pan when sauteing
When sauteing, you should be able to see the bottom of the pan between the pieces of food. Too much food will lower the temperature of the pan, creating too much steam. This means that you won’t get good browning on the food. It’s also important to have the ingredients free of water as much as possible before sauteing and also make sure that the pan is good and hot.
6- Reduce liquids to enhance flavor
When braising vegetables or meat, take them out when it’s done and reduce the sauce a bit more before serving. This enhances the flavor of the sauce greatly and when using delicious chicken products like Bairaha’s, you get the added advantage of getting even more wholesome flavors. When deglazing a pan, make sure you reduce the added liquid by boiling over high heat. Reduce homemade stocks before use as well to get a more concentrated flavor.
7- Bake tart and pie crusts for longer for better results
Pastry dough always tastes much better when baked long enough for the sugar in the crust to caramelize. What you should look for is golden brown and not pale blond for a pie or tart crust.
8- Rest roasted meats before serving
When serving roast meats like Bairaha’s succulent chicken portions or marinated chicken, make sure to rest the meat or your roast will be dry. This is because resting a roast will help the meat’s juiciness to distribute evenly.
9- Use acid to your advantage
Add a final dash of acid like vinegar or citrus juice to almost any vegetable or meat dish and even fruit desserts at the last minute to perk up the flavor.
10- Trust doneness tests over the timer’s buzzer
When you try a Sri Lankan recipe for the first time, look for those descriptive words like ‘boil until reduced by half or ‘bake until golden brown. Don’t fret too much that the time it takes to reach the desired state of doneness is less or more than the time suggested in the recipe.