Tag Archives: cooking

Cooking Fried Rice (Some Key Tips)

To make life easier for yourself before cooking anything, its best to prepare all the ingredients first. In french cuisine this is called mise en place which means putting in place. This practise is particularly useful when making things like fried rice.

The actual cooking time for fried rice is quite short so its next to impossible to prepare things while you go.

Rice

Mise en place

Usually, I pick ingredients for fried rice based on what I have left over in my fridge. It is a great way to get rid of the produce you’ve yet to use. For the best results however, its ideal to use the freshest and most vibrant of ingredients.

I often like to use fermented products for seasoning because they add a lot of savouriness without making the dish even heavier than it already is. Soy sauce, fish sauce, and Sriracha are my favourites.

Rice

Photo by Irvin Mai

Some key tips for making fried rice.

1. A good trick is to use refrigerated rice. If the rice is freshly cooked it has a tendency to stick together and become mushy if fried right away.

2. Cook each ingredient separately. Each ingredient takes a different amount of time to cook. It is pretty hard to time everything if you are cooking it in one pan/wok.

3. Cook the rice last and fold in the rest of the already cooked ingredients.

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Using Salad Dressings

Taste buds are always looking to be stimulated. Salad dressings are a great way to make this happen. Some salads are one dimensional in terms of their flavour profile. This is particularly true with simple leafy green salads. Leafy salads are generally bitter but are not much else. Making a complementary salad dressing for these leafy greens would at least involve some sweetness, sourness, and saltiness. The making of each salad dressing will depend on each salad but here is an overview of some of the more popular salad dressing components.

1. Fat.

Salad

Photo by Irvin Mai

If your salad is mostly crisp vegetables, it’s likely that it lacks mouthfeel. This is where fat comes in. If you’ve watched the food network you’ve probably been conditioned to think that olive oil is the first ingredient in any salad dressing. Any fat however, can add mouthfeel, body, and luxuriousness to salads. It is most convenient to use various oils however one of my favourite fats to use in a dressing is brown butter.

2. Acidity.

Salad

Photo by Irvin Mai

Whenever there is fat you’ll want acidity to cut through it. I always feel unsatisfied when I eat a burger without pickles or at least an acidic condiment like ketchup.

3. Sweetness

Salad

Photo by Irvin Mai

This is not as essential as the first two but people generally like salad dressings that have an element of sweetness to them. The same can be said for spices. Dijon mustard is one of the more popular ways to add spice to dressings.

Salad

Boston Lettuce, Red Onions, Tomatoes, Radishes dressed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Dijon Mustard, Maple Syrup, Salt, and Pepper.

 

Salad

Kidney Beans, Corn, Avocado, Tomatoes, and Dill dressed with Avocado Oil, Lemon, Cumin, Smoked Paprika, and Salt, finished with Dill.

 

Salad

Broccoli, Red Pepper, Yellow Pepper, Corn, and Shallots dressed with homemade lemon aioli and finished with grated gruyere.

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Microwaves: The Coolest Appliance You Have

Microwaves are super popular. Nearly every home I’ve been in recently has one. People usually associate microwaves with convenience as they are far and away the fastest way to heat most food. Unfortunately, they’ve long been shunned by the culinary world. High end classically trained Chefs have turned their nose up at the notion of microwaved food on television. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen a Gordon Ramsay shame someone for even having a microwave. I’m not sure if this is done because old school Chefs do not understand how a microwave works or for another reason but its caused the general public to think microwaves are incapable of producing delicious food.

How it works

Microwave

Photo by Tech-Kid

Microwaves essentially work by producing electromagnetic waves that interact with polar molecules (mostly water) in food. By causing these polar water molecules to oscillate at a ridiculously high frequency, the electromagnetic waves increase the temperature of the food by using the food itself.

Microwave

Photo by Irvin Mai

Why its better

The classic technique for boiling or steaming vegetables or any other food item is to wait until the water is as hot as possible before dropping the food in. This is because the longer the vegetable stays in the water, the more flavour and nutrients dissolves into the water. In fact, slowly simmering bones or vegetables is exactly how you extract the most amount of flavour when making a stock. Water can only exist in a liquid state up to 100 degrees celsius so there  is a limit to how fast an ingredient can be cooked. Therefore, there inevitably is going to be some flavour and nutrients lost.

Microwave

Photo by Irvin Mai

Microwaves aren’t perfect but they cook food faster than any other method and the water that is cooking the food is inside the food itself so the flavour and nutrients is not extracted. This results in the most vibrant and nutritious result unmatched by alternative classic cooking techniques.

Defrosting

Defrost Microwave

Photo by Irvin Mai

Have you ever tried cooking something in the microwave from frozen? If you have you probably remember because the result is quite startling. If you haven’t, what happens is parts of the food ends up being fully cooked while other parts of the food remains completely frozen.

This is because of the fact that frozen water has a different atomic structure than liquid water. Frozen water does not interact with the microwaves. The liquid water ends up cooking food near these molecules very quickly while the rest of the food is untouched. The defrost setting is simply the magnetron in the microwave oscillating between being on and off. This allows for small increments in cooking around the liquid water molecules which in turn provide enough heat to melt the frozen parts of the food. This allows for more even heating than the standard microwave setting.

Hopefully this has shed some light on the microwave, an appliance that has been grossly misunderstood for years.

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