I’ll be honest with you: cooking is not my strong suit. Back at home, my exposure to cooking was mostly limited to the cutting board and a knife, where my duties were to cut up various ingredients into appropriately-sized pieces.
It’s a different story now. Having lived away from my parents has really forced me to venture away from familiar territory. My culinary repertoire now includes following recipes (mostly from allrecipes). That, and watching Masterchef. Something about the process of creating meals, from the initial preparation of the ingredients to the final touches on the plates, is mesmerizing to me.
The main takeaway I get from Masterchef is probably that I wish I could cook, but sometimes, I’ll see something and go “yes, that looks like an infallible cooking technique.” Here are some of them.
1. Medium-cooked meat means overdone in a chef’s eye
Medium-cooked meat has already reached that unpleasant level of toughness that makes meat impossible to chew without mirroring a grazing bovine. If you want to give your jaw a break, I think it’s best to opt for medium-rare.
2. Only amateurs forget to sift their flour before use
Sometimes, flour forms lumps. When it forms lumps, it doesn’t produce a finished product that is as airy and light as it could be. While it may be a simple inconvenience in everyday cooking, it would be a culinary taboo on Masterchef. To the pressure test you go.
3. Blowtorches need to be on standby for meringue pies
Forget the extra precious minutes it takes to bake in the golden brown tops of meringue pies—if Masterchef teaches you anything, it’s that time is of the essence, and there’s not a lot of it in the competition. Good thing blowtorching is an option.
4. There’s such thing as over-seasoning
Unlike me, the top chefs of America don’t appreciate when you throw in six different herbs and spices into the pot. All the additions mask the natural flavour of what you’re cooking.
5. Red wines are a necessity for braising meats
“Braised meat? Bring on the red wine.” — every Masterchef contestant ever. It brings a new meaning to wine and dine.
6. Sear the edges of your meat before throwing it in the oven to bake
You may have heard that this process retains moisture in the cut. In fact, it doesn’t. What is actually happening is the Maillard reaction, a browning process that caramelizes the surface of the meat to give it a deeper flavour.
#SpoonTip: This is the same process that produces the crust on bread.
7. Hot mixture + egg mixture = scrambled eggs
Once this equation is spelled out for you, it seems highly intuitive. Occasionally, whether it’s a slip of mind or the pressure of the clock, even the contestants forget this rule and end up scrambling their eggs for anything from hollandaise sauce to ice cream.
Luckily for me, this is a mistake I rarely commit, if only because I never make either of those. Laziness has its uses sometimes.