12 Harmful Culinary Habits That Leave Us Disappointed With Our Homemade Dishes
Sometimes, even a huge bunch of culinary knowledge can’t protect you from making disappointing mistakes. The thing is, we often act according to our habits and don’t question our methods, believing that it is simply impossible to do better. Due to this, our pancakes are like rubber, our rice is too sticky, and our ground meat turns out dry and tough.
We at Bright Side decided to figure out what widespread mistakes prevent us from enjoying the taste of our culinary masterpieces. And as it turns out, they are all very easy to fix.
12. We mix the pancake batter too hard.
When cooking batter for pancakes, it’s easy to get carried away and break all the lumps to get the ideal consistency. In fact, that is a big mistake, as it doesn’t allow us to get puffy, airy, and tender pancakes, but rather, flat and rubbery ones.
The reasons are hidden in 2 possible variants. The first one is that in most recipes, there is a certain kind of baking powder, and intense mixing lets all the bubbles that it produces when coming into contact with liquid out. The second reason is you mix the batter for too long, which produces gluten, an excess of which makes the batter rubbery.
11. We sprinkle salt onto a dish from too short a distance.
You’ve probably noticed that some professional chefs season or salt food by holding their hands high over the plate or the frying pan. Turns out, this is not an attempt to show off. In fact, the higher the initial point is, the more evenly the seasoning is spread across the surface. If the hand is too low, there is a risk that one piece of meat or the dish will be saltier than the other.
10. We don’t fry rice before cooking it.
There is a stage of cooking that can make rice more crumbly and saturate it with additional tastes, but we tend to skip it. This stage is frying it in oil before adding water to it.
This step is quite simple. All you need to do is heat oil in the frying pan on medium heat, then add the rice and fry it until a visible change of color presents itself. After this, add water, wait until it boils, cover it with a lid, and leave on low heat for about 20 minutes.
9. We don’t heat the frying pan and the oil sufficiently.
The main issue of this habit is that the food that is placed on a cold frying pan over oil absorbs this oil instead of getting fried in it until crispy. Eventually, we get a dish that’s high in calories and oily, which can affect its taste qualities significantly.
8. We use different types of pepper out of place.
The grind size of the black pepper matters in terms of the intensity of the flavor. Finely ground pepper allows you to evenly soak the dish with the aroma and, at the same time, it serves only as an addition, not the main seasoning. At the same time, coarsely ground pepper is more aromatic, adds bursts of flavor to the dish, and periodically draws attention to itself.
Knowing this, it’s easier to understand in which situation each type of pepper is more suitable. Coarse ground pepper is less suitable for sauces but perfect for meat and salads, while finely ground pepper will, on the contrary, provide a soft tinge in sauces but won’t overpower the taste of a steak.
7. We forget that not all ingredients should eventually get on the plate.
Sometimes we add ingredients to soups or sauces that are needed to improve the taste and give a special flavor. But not all of them should be eaten in the end. In order to prevent any unnecessary stems from getting into a plate when serving the dish, it’s better to tie them with a thread beforehand. In this case, you’ll only need to grab the whole bunch with tongs at the end of cooking and throw it away.
6. We don’t scrape the upper layer of meat that has been stored in the fridge for a long time.
The upper layer of meat that had been stored in the freezer for a long time sometimes gets discolored or gets covered with coating. And this nuance can give the eventual dish a dubious tinge. Still, there is no need to throw such meat away.
You need to only scrape this layer off of its surface, wash it under tap water, and dry it with a paper towel. Of course, it won’t save spoiled meat — this method can only be used with a vetted product.
5. We use the same spatula for different types of dishes.
Perhaps few of us think about it, but the diversity of shapes and materials that culinary spatulas are made from are that way for a reason. Each variety suits some activities better and worse than others.
Thus, silicone spatulas are best for mixing soft and wet ingredients, like dough or cream. It is better not to use wooden ones for meat, as wood can become a good breeding ground for bacteria. For fragile dishes, like fried eggs, it’s better to use curved spatulas, not straight ones, to keep them whole.
4. We mix the order of adding dry and fresh herbs.
Dried herbs can have an absolutely different effect on the taste of a dish depending on what moment you add them. The general recommendation is to add them at the beginning or while cooking, as they require time to soften and open up. If you add them at the end or to the finished dish, then not only will they fail to open and release an aroma, but they’ll also crack unpleasantly against your teeth — that’s why it is better to opt for fresh greens in such a situation.
3. We add cubes of butter into the dough instead of grating it.
The key detail in many baking recipes is that butter should be soft enough to be able to mix with other ingredients. At the same time, it shouldn’t be melted. In this case, instead of cutting it into cubes and adding it that way, it’s better to grate the frozen butter and let it sit for a couple of minutes — the grated flakes will quickly reach the ideal temperature.
Another thing to note is that some recipes require butter not to be cold to let the steam out in the oven, which, in turn, helps the dough rise. In this case, grated frozen butter rolled in flour and added to the dough is also a perfect option.
2. We mix ground meat too intensely.
The wish to thoroughly mix the ingredients added to the ground meat can lead to over-kneading, which, in turn, can make it too hard and less flavorful. In fact, in order to make meatballs and cutlets that you will be cooking from ground meat more puffy and tender, you need to treat it very gently and carefully. You also don’t need to squeeze the dough too hard when making those balls, but rather, use slight pats.
By the way, when cooking ground meat, make sure not to press or pierce the dish (like cutlets for example), as not to accidentally end up releasing the juice from them and drying them out.
1. We don’t rinse rice before boiling it.
Oftentimes, rice becomes sticky and turns into porridge, not only because of not sticking to the right cooking time but also because we don’t rinse it beforehand. The thing is, there is a lot of starch in rice (which is why the water becomes murky). When boiled, this starch has nowhere to go, so as water is absorbed or evaporated, it becomes a sticky mass that binds grains.
In order to avoid this and make rice more crumbly, you need to rinse it in a sieve until the water becomes clear.
What other mistakes, in your opinion, do many people make while cooking that they don’t even suspect?