One’s ability to create culinary masterpieces depends on different elements. These include good quality ingredients, exceptional cutting and slicing skills, the use of the right utensils and equipment, and getting the right flavor profile.
Using the right cooking technique and executing it correctly will also help you produce amazing dishes at home or in the restaurant.
Signing up for cooking classes in Dubai can help you learn and master all the food preparation techniques necessary for creating excellent savory and sweet dishes. Under the tutelage of a professional chef, you can acquire all the skills you need to start working your way up in the field of culinary arts.
Top Cooking Techniques to Learn
Below are the seven essential cooking techniques you have to master as an aspiring chef:
This is a basic cooking technique that both home cooks and restaurant chefs should master. This is because sautéing is a method that you can use with a wide variety of foods that include fish, meat, vegetables, and noodles.
Sautéing entails tossing the food around in a skillet. This cooking technique falls somewhere between stir-frying and searing.
You can use butter or any type of oil, or even a combination of both, as fat for this technique. To sauté food properly, you have to ensure the pan and fat are both hot enough so that the food added browns quickly. This is because the heat that will be used to cook the meat or vegetables, or both, should come directly from the pan itself.
With this cooking technique, the exterior of the food is browned, either slightly or caramelized depending on your preference or recipe, while the interior is cooked through.
This cooking technique entails browning food, usually meat or fish, quickly over high heat in a skillet or pan, on a grill, or under the broiler. The goal of searing is to get the surface well-browned, which creates additional flavors.
This method is often used at the beginning of the recipe. The browning caramelizes the natural sugars in the food, allowing another layer of flavor to arise. Additionally, it adds a pleasing texture to the outside of the meat.
To start searing, add a small amount of fat all over the meat. If you are cooking fish, simply sear it on both sides to complete the cooking process.
In case you are cooking a tough cut of meat, such as a steak, the searing can be the first step in the preparation process, which you can follow with braising or roasting.
Roasting entails using dry heat in the oven to cook the food. However, the dish has to be uncovered and it involves higher heat and shorter cooking times compared to baking.
To roast meat or vegetables, you have to use a shallow baking pan to ensure the heat circulates evenly and the food doesn’t steam. Once inside the oven, the outside of the food browns nicely while the inside remains moist and tender.
Spit roasting is also another roasting technique that refers to foods cooked over live fire. These typically include a whole pig, goat, lamb, and chicken.
4. Skillet Roasting
Skillet roasting is a combination of two cooking techniques: searing and roasting. It is often used for meat and thick cuts of fish.
For this technique, you have to sear the meat first then transfer the skillet to the oven to finish the cooking. The searing part improves the browning and enhances the flavor while roasting it in the oven ensures the food is cooked through. It also makes the protein more tender as a result.
Using an ovenproof skillet is the fastest and most convenient way to skillet roast food. However, if you don’t have one, brown the meat in a pan then transfer it to a baking sheet and place it in the oven to finish the cooking process.
This cooking technique is often used in Asian cuisines. If you want to specialize in this area, you have to be a master of stir-frying.
To stir-fry properly, you have to cut the meat and vegetables into similarly sized small pieces so that they all cook evenly at the same time. You also have to keep moving the food with a spatula or similar utensil, and sometimes shake the wok or pan itself.
Additionally, the heat beneath the pan must be high. You have to use a small amount of oil as well.
Lastly, you need to prepare all ingredients beforehand. It’s best to add the ones that take the longest to cook first and finish with the shortest cooking elements so that everything reaches the right level of doneness at the same time.
Braising is a method used for certain cuts of meat that can benefit from long, slow cooking. Once done, the protein becomes tender and more flavorful.
When using this cooking technique, you have to brown the meat first although, in some recipes, this is not necessary. To braise the protein, put a moderate amount of liquid in the pot or pan and cook it in a low oven or over a low flame.
Next, you have to cover the pot or pan so that the liquid condenses on the underside of the lid and bastes the dish while it is cooking.
To enhance the flavor of the dish, you can add aromatic vegetables such as carrots, onions, and garlic. And aside from water, you can also use broth and wine as your braising liquid.
Stewing is also similar to braising, however, smaller pieces of meat are used for this cooking technique.
Slow cookers and pressure cookers are also amazing cooking devices that are great for both braising and stewing.
7. Poaching and simmering
These two cooking methods are related since they involve submerging foods in liquid at a lower temperature than boiling.
When poaching food, the liquid is maintained below 185°F and may or may not simmer, but does not bubble. With this cooking technique, the liquid becomes a flavorful broth that can be turned into a sauce or soup.
Simmering, on the other hand, requires the liquid to maintain a temperature between 185 and 200°F. While simmering, the liquid bubbles gently.
Poaching and simmering are used for tenderizing tough cuts of meat and cooking delicate foods such as eggs, fish, and chicken.
With well-selected ingredients from the right suppliers and properly executed cooking techniques, you can create delicious masterpieces that can be your signature dishes once you become a chef.
Shanaaz Raja is the Course Director at International Centre for Culinary Arts – ICCA Dubai.