You are beginning the adventure of food production and are seeking out cooking basics everyone should know. Great news- you’ve come to the perfect place. Here we detail the essentials of cooking so that you can quickly turn from novice to expert. The culinary arts are more than an opportunity to eat healthy and tasty food, they are a chance for self-expression and self-discovery.
Learn your true taste palette and learn true self-sufficiency by starting to cook for yourself. When it comes to food, there is everything from expeditious to detailed. The first steps are learning the basics, which is exactly what we detail herein.
Types of Cooking
There are countless ways to cook food; however, simply put, the process of cooking is simply applying heat properly and evenly. With time and practice, you will exceed the basics. For now, these simple steps will diversify your food choices and give you a chance to learn.
If you are planning on cooking, chances are you have an oven. Baking is a simple way to cook food. The first step is to take an oven-safe pan and place in it the food you plan to cook. A general rule of thumb is to heat food at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Meat has specific cooking demands. As a beginner, know it is better to overcook food than to undercook it.
Place a small amount of water or broth in with the food. If you are adding oil, ensure that the flash point is higher than the temperature of the oven. Otherwise, the oil will burn and smoke. As a beginner cook, one dish cooking is ideal. Place vegetables with the meat, under a cover. Generally speaking, after an hour, you will have a full meal.
As a new cook, frying is a handy trick. A good rule of thumb is to start by frying an egg. First, place oil or butter on the pan. Heat this to medium on the burner closest you. When the butter melts, place the egg contents (not the shell) into the pan. Try not to crack the yolk of the egg.
Once the whites of the egg begin to firm, use the spatula to prevent this from sticking to the edges.
The next step is to flip the egg. Do so gently, without breaking the yolk. If it does break, however, fret not- this is a learning experience. In less than five minutes, you will have a cooked egg, ready to eat. Some add salt at the beginning, others afterward. You will quickly learn what you prefer. The good news is that the frying process is similar to everything you cook. Keep the items in the pan moving around. Prevent burning with this motion.
This method is most common for vegetables. That said, boiling is perfectly acceptable for proteins as well. Boiled fish and boiled chicken are two classic meals. A handy rule of thumb is that roots cook from cold. That means that we place them in the water and both are brought to a boil together. Place all other foods into already boiling water.
Fill the pot half, to three-quarters full of water. Add a dash of salt to catalyze the reaction. Turn the burner on to maximum and cover the pot, leaving a small crack open to release the steam. Once the water is boiling, add in the food you wish to cook.
Typically, boiling is quick. For items like pasta and other starches, check their doneness after a few minutes. It will give you an idea of duration. Remove a piece with a fork or spoon. Let it cool and taste it. If needed, leave it to cook a while longer. Otherwise, your cooking is near done. Turn off the heat. Empty the contents into a strainer. Cool and serve.
While raw eating is technically not cooking, it provides us with essential skills for the kitchen. These translate to prep work for other types of food production. To be safe, only use raw cooking for veggies and fruits. Try out different ways of chopping and slicing. Learn what works best for you. Salads are a great side dish for novice cooks; and, over time, making them provides you with the technical skills needed to prep for baking and boiling these ingredients.
Food Safety Essentials
Of course, cooking basics must also include food safety precautions. We want to stay safe and healthy; so, by following these easy steps, you can rest assured that your food is properly cleaned and cared for.
Always wash your food thoroughly. Never use hot or warm water to do so, only cold water suffices. Regardless of whether you handle a vegetable or meat, it is essential to remove any chance of pathogenic contamination. Scrub the surface of your food thoroughly before cooking. While the heat of your cooking the food may reduce the likelihood of contamination, the cleaning process also removes additives and preservatives. It is always the best practice.
Another necessary step for proper food maintenance (and an essential cooking basic) is to store your food in airtight containers. Cooked or raw, food will spoil. Air speeds along this process significantly. Protect your nutrition from damage by sealing it correctly.
There are many kitchen items that facilitate this end. From plastic wrap to sealed containers, the method does not matter. So long as you ensure that you protect your food from the air, it will last longer and prevent illness.
Key to preventing contamination is making sure food never passes its expiration date. A good practice is to keep food that spoils sooner towards the front of the fridge. This way, we know to eat this first. While expiration dates are generally reliable, they are nothing compared to human intuition and sense. If your food smells off or looks discolored in any way, it is better to be safe than sorry. Discard items of a questionable nature- especially as a novice cook. This will keep you free from harm and ensure that cooking is easy and safe.
Now that you know the cooking basics, it is time to start experimenting with flavors and recipes. Chances are, you may burn a few dishes, but they will all be in the spirit of learning. The best way to gain cooking experience is by actually cooking. Acquaint yourself with boiling, baking, and frying. This trifecta provides you with the necessary basics so that you are free to discover your taste palette’s passion.