8 Hacks To Help You Cook Like a Pro
Cooking doesn’t come naturally to everyone – but luckily for foodies or aspiring hobby chefs, anyone can up their cooking skills with a few easy tips and tricks.
From hacks to cut onions without tears to nailing your salt-to-water brine ratio, we’ve put together 8 hacks that will help you cook like a pro. Now all that’s left to do is hit the supermarket, grab your equipment and fire up the stove.
1. Master Cutting Your Vegetables Fast And Consistently
One of the easiest ways to cut down on your meal’s preparation time is learning how to cut your vegetables fast and in similar slice sizes. To improve on this, invest in a mandoline – an easy-to-use cooking utensil that uses a series of blades to cut your vegetables into the same size (and style) pieces.
Carrots are commonly used in a mandoline, particularly for crinkle cut or julienne style slices,
but you can also use potatoes, zucchinis, cucumbers, tomatoes or a range of other veggies.
2. Don’t Be Afraid To Turn Up The Heat
If you’re looking to sear your steak, fish, chicken or veggies, you’ll need to crank up the heat on your stove to achieve a crispy, delicious browning. If you have a natural gas cooktop, you’ll know firing up your stove is a quick process.
Natural gas stoves are an economical and quick way to kick-start your stove’s heat settings. They’re also incredibly precise, and will allow you to adjust your cooking temperature at the simple touch of a dial.
3. Learn How To Cut An Onion Without The Tears
Everyone knows the pain and inconvenience of pausing to wipe away tears while cutting onions. To avoid this altogether, put your onions in ice cold water for at least 10 minutes before cutting them. This water will chill the onion and slow down its production of the chemicals that cause you to tear up. Just be sure to dry the onion completely before cutting it so your knife doesn’t slip on the wet onion.
4. Leave Your Meat To Rest Before Slicing
No matter which meat you’re preparing, it’s optimal to let it rest for up to 10 minutes before you slice it. This resting period allows the meat’s natural juices to shift to the centre of the meat, ensuring it’s delicious and succulent when you’re ready to serve and eat it.
5. Master The Art Of Sautéing
The term ‘sauté’ means to cook food quickly in a small amount of fat, such as oil, over a relatively high heat. Sautéing food is a fantastic way to infuse richness into an ingredient without sacrificing flavour or texture – so learning to master this technique is a sure-fire way to up your cooking game.
Before throwing your food into a pan, make sure it’s all cut to the same size and shape so it can cook for the same amount of time, warm your pan over medium to high heat, and swirl a slim layer of oil or butter within the pan. Once your food’s in the pan, give each piece its own separate pot in the pan, and begin to toss and turn it until you’re happy with its browning and crispy outer layer.
Sautéing with natural gas is one of the most helpful ways to master your first attempt, as you’ll have precise temperature control, a speedy firing up of your stove’s gas, and the ability to turn off the stove (once you’re happy with your sautéed food) at the quick spin of a dial.
6. How To Poach The Perfect Egg
Don’t let this one scare you – poaching an egg is an extremely easy cooking skill to master if you’ve got the right equipment, ingredients, and a few handy timings and tips. To start, make sure you’re using a pot that’s wide and deep enough to have your egg floating slightly above the bottom of the pot. Using two thirds water and one third white vinegar, bring your water to a slow boil and gently crack your egg into the pot once a few tiny bubbles appear. Cook to your liking – soft poached eggs take around two minutes, and firmer ones will take close to four minutes.
7. Brine To Add Flavour
Though brining may be most often associated with the annual Christmas roasted ham, turkey or chicken, nailing a brine ratio is a valued cooking skill year-round. In literal terms, brining involves submerging your meat into a solution of salt and water, and results in your meat absorbing extra liquid to become extra juicy and flavourful when cooked. The basic brine ratio is four tablespoons of salt to four cups of water. To start your brine, adjust this ratio to suit your pan or size of meat, leave it in the fridge for a few hours (or overnight if brining a large piece of meat), and pat your meat dry before putting it in the oven.
For a reliable, succulent roast, consider using a natural gas oven. As electric ovens dehydrate food as they cook, a gas oven is a much more accurate option thanks to precise temperature control. Plus, you won’t need to rotate your food with a natural gas oven, meaning you’ll have a reliable cooking experience every time.
8. Stock Up Your Herb Collection – And Know When To Add Each One
Whether you’ve got your own herb garden or opt for dried herbs in small containers, make sure you’re well-stocked with plenty of basil, thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary, dill and other select herbs – depending on what you’re cooking.
After ensuring you’ve got plenty of herbs to play with, it’s a good idea to know which herbs go with which popular dishes. If you’re preparing meat, opt for thyme, sage or rosemary on beef, oregano and coriander on chicken, or basil, cumin and thyme on turkey. For grilled fish, coriander, dill and rosemary are tasty options. If you’ve got fresh herbs you’re planning on building a meal around, a few other options could include basil for fresh pasta, parsley for soups, sage for stuffing, oregano for pizza or bay leaf for stews.
Where can I find a gas fitter?
Head to the Master Plumbers and Gas Fitters Association (MPGA) of WA website: they maintain a searchable online database of licensed plumbers and gas fitters in WA.
I still need more information… where can I find out more?
There are further resources available right here on the Life’s Better When You’re With Gas website: don’t miss our Get Connected tool for a step-by-step guide to the process, and take a look at how to find the right energy mix for your life and your home.
You can also speak to a gas fitter, your preferred gas retailer or your builder to find out more.
* Please note: ATCO Gas Australia is only responsible for the connection from the gas main up to your gas meter box. 20 meters of gas service pipe is included as part of the free connection process. Anything over this could be chargeable.