There are some good-to-know cooking tips to enhance your cooking, and to take note when handling the food items. These are things I have mentioned mostly in my posts and recipes which you might wish to get more details and ideas on how and where about. I have listed here, for your reference. (*Notes are not arranged in sequential order)
Vegetables and Fruits:
While cooking -
1) To retain the fresh greenish color of the vegetables, add sugar into the boiled water to blanch vegetables. Please do not over-cook the vegetables, to keep its nutrients.
Choosing fruit -
2) Use riper mango for making puree. And. it’s sweeter.
3) Never soak your fruits in the water for too long in order to retain its nutrients.
4) Do not soak vegetables in water for too long. Add pinch of salt and soak vegetables for 15 min maximum. Soak before cutting it.
Fondue set -
5) To get a fondue set for home use – try large-scale super market, for instances, NTUC Extra, Carrerfour, departmental stores (household department) to get the fondue bowl set and dark chocolate pieces in small or big packet (at baking materials department). I got mine at Robinson departmental store, RafflesCity.
6) To make delicious fondue, use only chocolates with 53% or above (range of 53% – 70% is ideal) of cocoa. Do not use milk chocolate as the taste will not go well with the fruits as fondue. Chocolate in form of chips or roughly chopped from a block is fine.
7) Banana is a MUST for chocolate fondue as chocolate dip with banana is simply prefect. Try also ice-cream (cut into cubes) and love letters (chocolate rolls). If you would like to enjoy a flavored fondue with the loved one, try adding drops of liquor into the chocolate.
Mashed potato -
8)To make cheesy mashed potato, add 1 – 2 tablespoon of (cheddar) cheese flakes to the mashed potato. No salt is required in this mashed potato recipe as the butter and hotdogs are salty. Both ingredients contain relatively high sodium.
9) Do not over boil the sweet potatoes to prevent disintegration.
Fried tofu -
10) Gently pat-dry the tofu with kitchen towel before frying, this will reduce the oil splashing when dropping tofu into the oil. This applies to frying fish, too.
Meat and Seafood:
Handling cockles -
1) Soak raw cockles in a pot of cold water to easily remove the meat from shell.
Choosing and handling parts of pork -
2) To make juicy pork chop, use shoulder loin or shoulder butt (Front part of shoulder meat) for more tenderness.
3) Place 1 sheet of aluminum foil on the baking dish before placing the chops to keep your baking dish clean and easily washed.
Use of honey in cooking -
4) Honey is easily burnt ingredient. Do not overcook/ overbake the dish using honey.
Condiment as cooking enhancer -
5) Stir in drops of Chinese Shao Shing Hua Diao Wine (绍兴花雕酒) to add fragrance to fried rice. Amount of wine used, as desired. Stir-fry the rice for another minute after added in the wine before turn off the stove, to make sure the wine covers whole fried rice evenly.
6) Try not to add salt for recipe using ham as it is salty enough to taste. Ham is already high in sodium.
7) Try chicken stock cubes to cook soup. Stock cubes come handy and easily stored. Just add one cube for a pot of soup. I use it when cook soup and even porridge. Get the stock cubes without MSG for healthier choice. It makes the soup tastes even better.
8) Prawns heads are best to fry them before putting into the soup to boil. It adds fragrance and taste to the soup. Most importantly, fry prawn heads to dry up the juice, so that the soup will not become too redish.
9) Rock sugar makes pork chops taste smoother and better sweetness.
10) Sugar acts as flavour enhancer to your cooking, Use sugar is better than MSG.
11) Add rock sugar instead of normal cane sugar for better and smoother taste.
For cooking convenience -
12) When you cook prawn noodles soup, you may like to pack the prawn shells and heads in a small soup ingredient’s bag and put the whole bag into the soup, for easier to remove from soup after boiled. I did not use it as I prefer to cook them directly in the soup. It wasn’t hassle to me to remove the shells and heads from the soup as I think they are big pieces enough to scope up easily.
13) It is important to add some rock sugar in the prawn soup. I prefer rock sugar over brown sugar, as the rock sugar gives smoother texture to the soup, and the sweetness of rock sugar taste better.
14) To get rid of the fishy smell of your seafood like fish and prawns, add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to the water to rinse the fish or prawns.
15) Soak Szechuan Vegetables in clean water for 15 – 20 min to reduce its saltiness and spiciness. Soak longer (about 30 min), if using slow cooker to boil for more than 8 hours.
16) Remember, the longer boiling time, the thicker (more satish) soup.
17) Braised pork with slow cooker, set cooker to auto-shifted or low heat for 8 – 10 hours. Otherwise, set cooker to high heat for 1 hour, and then switch to medium heat and braise for 5 hours long.
18) You may easily get pre-packaged star anise and cinnamon stick from supermarket for only 50 cents which is good for one-time use.
19) If cannot finish the braised pork in one meal, properly sealed and kept it in the refrigerator, heat it up again the next day, for “double braised” effect. Taste will be even better, some claimed.
20) To make cornstarch slurry: Dissolve ¼ tablespoon of cornstarch in 1 tablespoon of water. For bigger portion of slurry, add amount of cornstarch flour accordingly, with ratio of cornstarch (in teaspoon) : water (in tablespoon) 0.25 : 1.
21) To thicken the watery gravy of Sweet and Sour Pork – Stir in cornstarch slurry lastly, fry all ingredients for another 30 seconds before removed from heat.
22) Blanching method - Plunge raw meat or vegetables into boiling salted water, for a quick boil. Then place under running water or in cold water to halt the cooking process. Blanched meat will keep your soup clear. Some cooking need blanched vegetable, to shorten the cooking time, and to retain its bright natural colour.
Fried food -
23) For more crispiness of your fried food, double fry it. Fry your food till lightly golden browned using medium fire. Remove from wok and drain oil, for 3 min. Return to the wok over medium-high fire, for second frying, until golden browned.
24) Make sure the oil is hot heated at correct temperature and enough to cover the food. Keep the flame in medium – high throughout the frying process in order to yield efffect of ‘moist inside and golden brown outside’. It should take no more than 5 min to do so. Also, make sure the pieces are cut in uniform size to better control when frying.
25) To prevent excessive oil absorption in your fried food – Before heat off, quick fry another 15 seconds over very high fire. Remove from wok and drain on kitchen towel. More details on frying method, check it out on Deep-frying your Food!
26) To save cooking oil, use shallow frying method. Heat oil in wok with amount that enough to partially submerge the food. Fry one side and then turn over to the other side, fry over medium heat, until both sides are evenly browned.
27) To keep your fried food warm and crisp before serving, leave them in the oven with about 280ºF heat till served.
Handling of preserved food -
28) Preserved food with salting process has to be steeped in the water in order to extract excessive salt from it.
Just for your information, please.