1. Cooking meat when it is cold
If you cook your meat straight out of the fridge, it will guarantee you cook it unevenly, or over cook it in order to cook it all the way through. Cooking meat from room temperature is the first step to cooking any meat well.
2. Not heating your pan enough
All top chefs know that the temperature in the pan is crucial. If there is not enough heat, you end up boiling your food instead of cooking it. A common tip from chefs is “if you think your pan is hot enough, wait another 2 minutes!”. Also, add oil after your pan is hot, now when it is cold, otherwise you have super hot oil but a medium hot pan which will harm your cooking process.
3. Using the wrong oil
Sure olive oil is great, but it’s not the only oil there is. Most home cooks have a handy oil they like to use, but using the right oil for the job can significantly change the outcome. Here’s a quick guide:
Extra virgin olive oil – drizzling, dressing, dips (do not heat EVOO it kills the flavour and health benefits!)
Olive oil– frying, sautéing (the go to oil for most things)
Sesame / Peanut oil – stir fry (imparts strong flavour to your dish)
Vegetable oil – frying and deep frying (fairly flavourless so good all-rounder)
Sunflower oil – baking (crisps up extremely well)
4. Not salting water when cooking pasta
There seem to be many different ideas about how to best cook pasta. Do I add oil or not? How much water do I need? It is actually very simple: the idea is to cook in water “like the Mediterranean”, that is, a tablespoon of salt for every 200gms of pasta. Oh, and make sure you cook in a lot of water, at least 1 litre for every 100gms of pasta. And to settle the debate: no oil is needed!
5. Over frying garlic / onions
We typically cut and cook thousands of garlic cloves and onions in our lifetime, but most of us are doing it wrong. Onion and garlic should be cooked slowly in olive oil at a medium heat for up to 8 minutes without colouring. This releases their natural flavour and sweetness and elevates your dish, whether it be a pasta sauce, curry or soup, to a restaurant quality level. So next time, take a bit more care in cooking your base ingredient and you’ll notice the difference!