By: Daniella Gutierrez
If you can master these ingredients, you can master the kitchen!
It all begins with salt. Salt does magic to a recipe because it gives it more flavor and more texture. When we cook meats it's important to salt the meat in advance. Perhaps salting the meat overnight would be the best options for a more flavorful taste. When salt is added it clumps together and can eliminates moisture that is why for example when you marinate chicken with salt, you also want to soak it in buttermilk overnight to make the meat tender and juicier. It’s important to know that all salts are not created equal. For example, Morton’s Kosher salt is more dense than Diamond Crystal. One teaspoon of Morton’s Kosher is nearly 2 teaspoons of Diamond Crystal. Kosher salt also dissolves into your food more readily because the flakes are rolled and flatten. That is why the size of the salt crystal is important because it can affect a dish’s overall flavor as well as specific proteins. It is also important to consider the type of salt you want to cook with because some salts such as iodized salt makes your food taste metallic. When you add salt to food it enhances umami which makes the food more savory. A good example is soy sauce, it’s rich umami taste makes food more savoriness and satisfactory. Overall salt creates that sing in your mouth when a food is perfectly seasoned.
Heat is what takes food from raw to cooked, pale to golden brown. It is the element of transformation. When heat is applied it creates strong aromas and browning. Browning is flavor, another word used is caramelization which creates that crispy edge or maillard reaction where high heat reorganizes aromatic compounds in our food and produce a deep savory flavor that doesn’t exist in the pale versions. For example bread into toast or raw tuna into seared. Some caramelization products are flavorful and have a pleasing odor, while others have a bitter and burnt taste to food, so it’s important to use your senses and observe over cooking (Provost, Colabroy, Kelly, & Wallert. (2016). Before you begin to cook an important choice to make is whether to use intense or gentle heat. Intense heat browns the food and gives that crisp surfaces and tender interiors while gentle heat uses time and liquids to transform dry, tough ingredients into tender juicy ones (Nosrat, 2017). When we heat foods the heat needs to be distributed evenly or else it will not cook evenly. To prevent uneven heat, create different zones to move around and not just stay in direct flame or having the roasted chicken on one side the entire time because the back of the oven is where all the heat is. Also cooking on high heat makes foods cook unevenly, so instead use simmering because it is more gentle. Pay attention to the food and not the fire by using your senses to look, listen, smell and taste and master the final element in good cooking: heat.
You don't have to use expensive foods to make good meals and recipes don’t have to be complicated to be delicious. The simplest ingredients can make a great delicious meal and don’t forget you’re suppose to taste what you’re cooking and use your senses.
Iida, F., Saitou, K., Kawamura, T., Yamaguchi, S., & Nishimura, T. (2015). Effect of fat content on sensory characteristics of marbled beef from Japanese Black steers. Animal Science Journal, 86(7), 707-715. ISSN: 1344-3941
Provost, J., Colabroy, K., Kelly, B., & Wallert, M. (2016). The science of cooking: Understanding the biology and chemistry behind food and cooking.
Nosrat, S. (2017). Salt, fat, acid, heat: Mastering the elements of good cooking(Simon & Schuster nonfiction original hardcover).
LiveGlam. (2017). Honey and Lemon Mask - DIY Organic Mask Recipe to Try Today. Retrieved from https://liveglam.com/honey-and-lemon-mask-diy/
The Digestible; a site for easy to understand food, nutrition, health, and energy balance information.