11 clever kitchen hacks that only the professionals know
They say that architects cover their mistakes with ivy, chefs with mayonnaise. Unfortunately, not all your cooking mishaps can be fixed with the help of a thick layer of sauce. Sometimes you need to make use of much more tricky hacks. But don't worry! In fact, from overcooking to oversalting, you can use simple ingredients to balance flavors and mask those screwups.
So before throwing out the dish you just made, or offering it to the dog, check out our culinary life hacks that will help you rescue your dinner and your pride.
1. Tough meat
Have you ever bought meat which really looked good but after cooking got hard and difficult to chew? If your answer is 'yes,' don't worry. Here are a few tricks to end up with tender, great-tasting meat every time.
- Use fruits. Apple, pineapple, mango, and pear all work well. Peel the fruit if necessary, then cut it into thin slices. Cook the meat covered with slices of fruit. Fruit juices are great at tenderizing tough cuts of meat. That is why pork is very often cooked with pineapple.
- Use sake. Prepare a marinade in a separate bowl by combining grated onion and apple. When done, add olive oil and a bit of sake. Marinate the meat overnight in the refrigerator to add flavor and tenderness.
- Use Coke. Coke acts as a perfect meat tenderizer. Before frying, soak the meat in Coca-Cola for just 10 minutes. Then remove the meat from the marinade, let it dry a bit, and stir fry with black pepper. Use this method to give your meat dishes a delicious taste. And one more bonus: this recipe is suitable for fairly thick slices.
- Use a lemon. Marinating meat in lemon juice for 30 minutes before cooking is enough to make it much softer. You can also use vinegar. However, in this case, the meat should be soaked in the marinade overnight.
2. Overly salty soup
If you've added too much salt to your soup, here are a few chefs' secrets that will help you to rescue it:
- The easiest fix is, of course, to add more water and cook your soup for a few additional minutes. However, this method may not be very appropriate since it can affect the taste of your dish.
- If you have unsalted broth left over, simply add some of it to the pot. This will help you make your soup less salty without compromising on taste at all.
- If the trick with the broth doesn't work for you, you can try putting a small bag filled with rice into the pot. Rice is a great absorbent that has a way of soaking up the extra salt.
- Some chefs also use refined sugar to fix the taste. Just place a cube of sugar onto a spoon and put it into the soup. Wait until the sugar dissolves and add another piece. Repeat several times until the salt level is acceptable.
- Foods like potatoes, noodles, or pasta can also help to absorb salt. If the recipe allows, simply add more of these ingredients. If none of these products are included in the recipe, throw in a few peeled potatoes and let them cook for about 10-15 minutes before pulling them out. The potatoes will absorb the excess salt and won't spoil the taste of the dish.
3. The harsh taste of onion
The sharp smell or taste of uncooked onions often leaves you feeling uncomfortable. However, cooking dishes without onion can be a challenging task. Luckily, here is an easy way to make raw onions tastier. Just slice or cut raw onions as desired, and put them into a bowl of cold water. This will help you get rid of the bitter taste.
4. Overly salty meat
Sour cream can help balance out excess saltiness in a meat dish. Put the meat in a bowl of sour cream, and let it chill. Alternatively, you can also add some unsalted oil or flour sauce (flour, water, and sour cream) to your dish. An unsalted garnish is one more way to salvage the food. If you've oversalted the ground beef, add finely chopped cabbage, zucchini, or grated raw potatoes to it. These ingredients will make your dish even more tender and juicy.
5. Overly salty veggies
Vegetable ragout will become less salty if you add a few tomatoes to it. Just chop them finely, and cook together with your oversalted dish. In order to remove excess salt from the cooked vegetables, you can pour unsalted boiling water over them and cook for a few minutes. Mushroom dishes can also be rescued by using unsalted sauces, garnishes, or sour cream.
6. Charred meat or other foods
If, while cooking the meat, you end up with a charred block of protein that is essentially raw inside, cut off the burnt layer and continue to simmer it with oil, water, or broth. In order to remove the burnt smell from your dish, transfer it to another bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. It will soak up much of the unpleasant odor. One more way to get rid of the burnt flavor and taste is to add hot milk to your dish.
7. Cooled dishes
Have you ever set up a buffet at home? If so, you probably know that keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold until serving time can be challenging. Fortunately, the solution is quite simple. Just warm plates or other serving pieces in the oven for 5 minutes prior to putting food on them. Or chill the plates in the refrigerator if you're planning to serve cold foods.
8. Broth with too much fat
If the broth has too much fat in it, put it in the refrigerator to get cold. Wait until the fat hardens on the top, and then remove it.
9. Pancakes sticking to the pan
There are several reasons why pancakes stick to the pan. If the batter is too wet, add some flour. If the flour is of low quality, add some semolina flour. It is also important to preheat the frying pan with oil before putting the batter into it.
10. Custard that is too thin
Custard must have a consistency thicker than cream or whipped cream. However, it can sometimes be too thin. Fortunately, there are some tricks to thicken it. Take a little flour and mix well. If it still does not thicken, add a little more. You can also try to cook the custard for a few additional minutes, or simply put it in the refrigerator.
11. Frostbitten vegetables
Letting frostbitten potatoes warm gradually for 5-7 days at room temperature (18-20°С or 64-68°F) can reduce their sweet taste. A frostbitten onion won't be spoiled if you let it thaw at 3-5°C (37-41°F).