Whether you love to cook or eat out, it’s inevitable that you’ll make your fair share of mistakes. Yes, even the good cooks and seasoned pros from our upcoming food show, make mistakes. This usually happens when you’re in a rush or feeling a little bit lazy. Become a better Naija foodie by avoiding some of the most common errors.
Using the wrong knife
Before you take your knife out, think about what you’ll be using it for. Are you cutting something small, like garlic? Or, will you be working with something larger, like a whole chicken? You might love working with your small utility knife, but it’s not an all-purpose tool and doesn’t work well when tackling large foods. Always use the right size knife for the job. Think of your chef’s knife as an all-purpose knife. In home kitchens, this is the tool to turn to when you’re cutting meat, slicing fruit and vegetables, and mincing herbs.
Too much pepper
Not everyone loves pepper. However, you must have tasted meals that contain too much pepper and it must have been prepared by a person of Yoruba extraction. The Yorubas of western Nigeria are known to add a lot of pepper to their meals. For those unfamiliar with Yoruba cuisines, they will consider it a mistake. Importantly, as a foodie, you must know that not everyone likes pepper. It is therefore advisable not to use too much pepper whenever you cook whether you are not Yoruba or not.
Buying the wrong street food
Nigerians consume a lot of street foods. From your favourite roadside roasted plantain, suya, to akara and bread; there unlimited street food to choose from. But, you have to be careful with the kind of street food you eat. This is because some of the street foods have no nutritional value and are not healthy. Additionally, the spots they are prepared are very unclean. So, be very careful with the street foods you decide to eat.
For some people, adding salt to their meals is a huge problem. They do not know how to add the right amount of salt to the food they cook. It is either the salt is too much or too small. You can find a balance by ensuring that you taste the meal as you cook.
Adding ingredients to a cold pan
In most cases, it’s better to heat up your pan and then add oil and food. Food should never touch a cold pan. Instead of getting a nice sear, the ingredients soak up the oil or butter and are likely to stick to the pan. Make sure the pan and oil are hot before adding any ingredients to the pan. A hot pan is key to preventing your food from sticking, and for getting a good sear.
Overcrowding the pan
When you squeeze too much into a pan, not only does the temperature lower, but there’s too much moisture, which results in the food getting steamed instead of seared. This also results in uneven cooking. Use the right size pan for the amount of food you’re cooking. When you’re cooking meat, make sure none of the pieces are touching; there should be space between the pieces. Consider using a larger pan, two small pans, or if necessary, work in batches.
Not tasting food as it’s cooking
Cooking without tasting as you go is like writing a book without proofreading. Wait until dinner is on the table to give it a taste and you risk unbalanced flavors and lack of seasoning. Taste as you cook, and add more seasoning and spices as necessary. Don’t be afraid to taste again.
Allowing yourself to work with a messy workspace
Not only will you end up working less organised and less efficient when you have a messy workspace, but this puts you at higher risk for cross-contamination with your food. Keeping your workspace clean allows you to work a lot more organised, and you’ll save time in the long run. Keeping a garbage bowl next to your cutting board and cleaning as you go is also a huge help.
By Damilola Faustino