Most people learn to cook through trial and experimentation. We try recipes, practice, find out what we like and typically end up repeating the same few things. Still, our home cooking can always be improved by working in a few tips from professional cooks—in particular, any tips to make the prep work easier makes us a lot more willing to cook. Anyone who is a dedicated fan of cooking is Michelin-starred chef Gordon Ramsay, owner of many restaurants and star of shows like Hell’s Kitchen and MasterChef.
Fortunately, he also has five pro tips to help you master five basic cooking skills that will help you with all kinds of recipes.
How To Perfectly Chop An Onion
Onions can add flavor and sweetness to virtually any recipe. Still, many seasoned cooks still find cutting onions to be a pain. Here’s how to do it:
- After peeling off the outer layer, cut the onion in half directly through the root. By cutting it this way instead of through the middle of the onion, you’ll prevent the root from “bleeding” which releases chemicals that make you tear up.
2. With each half, hold it in place with one half and cut into the onion vertically, keeping the point of the knife a half-inch back from the root (again to preserve it). The tighter your slices, the finer your dice will be at the end.
3. Next, turn the knife perpendicular and cut carefully into it horizontally several times in the bottom, middle and top. Again, stay away from the root.
4. Finally, grip the root with your other hand and slice down again from the top in rows for a fine dice with no tears! At the end, toss the root away. Repeat on the other side.
How To Cook Perfect Rice
Although rice is another versatile ingredient, it’s easy to cook it improperly or to have it stick to the pan. Here’s how you do it:
- Ideally, measuring your ingredients on a digital scale will make sure you have the proportions right. First, measure out 400 grams of rice and then rinse it with cold water and strain it to get rid of any extra starch.
2. Transfer your rice into a pan. At this point, you can also choose to add some seasoning or spices like cardamom or star anise to give it an extra kick.
3. Next, add 600 milliliters of cold water, cover the pan and bring it a boil as quickly as possible. Once it’s boiling, turn the heat down and let it simmer for eight to 10 minutes—and never lift the lid!
4. When the timer is up, take the lid off, remove any large spices you may have put in and fluff it with a fork.
How To Skin And Debone Fish
To cook really fresh fish, it’s best to start with an entire filet and do all the prep work yourself! Don’t worry if it seems intimidating—it’s actually very easy. Here are the steps:
1. To begin, make sure you have a long and flexible filet knife—one that can comfortably bend when you press it against a chopping a block. Lifting from the tail of the filet, gently put a downward slice in the meat with your blade.
2. After the knife is in (and still holding the skin under it tight), twist the blade and begin to cut horizontally, following the skin and letting the blade do the work.
3. Once you’ve cut about halfway through, flip the cut part over and check to make sure you’re cutting close enough to the skin to get all the fish. After that, continue to slice gently through while holding the skin tight in your other hand.
4. After that, run the edge of your blade back against the meat to clip against any bones in the filet, bringing part of them to the surface.
5. Finally, use a pair of tweezers to pull all the bones out and you have a filet of fish ready to cook!
How To Properly Sharpen A Knife
Many of our knives get dull and we end up neglecting them or just buying new knives. Still, with proper technique, you can easily resharpen your old knives at home:
1. Get a knife sharpener and grip the handle firmly below the guard on it. Hold it at a 45-degree angle to your knife.
2. Starting from the very bottom of the blade and going to the very top, pull your knife all the way up the sharpener. After doing one side, alternate on the other.
3. Safety is the most important thing—always keep your fingers below the guard and don’t sharpen faster than you’re comfortable with!
How To Cook Perfect Pasta
Getting pasta at the perfect texture is also a little bit harder than it may seem at first glance. Here’s how you master it:
1. First, get plenty of water in a pan and add a little bit of salt and olive oil (to keep the pasta from sticking together).
2. Bring the water up to a rolling boil and put your pasta carefully in half way. As it hits the hot water it will “melt” a little. Gradually and evenly twist it in with a pair of tongs or a spoon.
3. According to the pasta instructions, either set a timer or watch it carefully. Test a noodle when you think it’s done—to cook to a perfect “al dente,” the pasta should still be firm but not crunchy!
4. Once it hits that level, strain it in a colander, season it gently with salt and pepper and add another tablespoon of olive oil. With that, your pasta is finished.
Have you used any of these tips in your kitchen before? Let us know in the comments area below.
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