Everyone seems to be obsessed with cooking these days. With major reality TV shows spruiking the skills of the home cook; are we out of our depth? If you’re looking to increase your skills why not take a leaf out of an experts book. We spoke with 2 experienced chefs to get the lowdown on how to handle meat, eggs and even pasta.
Chef Jaime Imbusch has been a private chef to the Saudi and Brunei royal families, before moving to Australia in 2015. Today, he brings his skills to the homes of Melbourne with an at-home private chef business, Chef Dine. We asked him to offer some advice when it comes to perfecting your meat cooking skills:
Are there any secrets to cooking a perfect steak without burning it?
“To get a nice even cook it’s important to get the steak to room temperature before cooking. This will help with a more even cook and the inside of the steak isn’t still cold when you come to slice it.”
How long should you marinade meat for ultimate flavour?
“To get the best flavor from marinating it should be done overnight and for some meats it’s a good idea to brine also before the meat is added to the marinade. By using yoghurt in the marinade the flavors will penetrate the meat a lot deeper giving it a better flavor.”
What’s one cooking mistake you wish people would stop making?
“One of the most important things in cooking for me is the resting. You can clearly see when this hasn’t happened and is imperative for an even cook throughout the steak.”
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Fine-dining trained chef turned healthy eating coach, Alex Morris shared with us his answers for 3 of the most common amateur cooks questions.
Getting a crispy skin
“Whether you’re cooking ﬁsh or chicken, the concept is pretty much the same. Firstly, the skin needs to be very dry, so on the day of cooking, take the meat out of it’s packaging, sprinkle the skin with salt and leave it in the fridge uncovered for a few hours - this will dry the skin out. When it’s time to cook, you can add to this by patting the skin dry with kitchen towel.
To cook, we need a decent amount of fat - that’s essential. Get a pan to a medium-high heat and add a couple of tablespoons of olive or neutrally ﬂavoured oil. Allow it to heat for 30 seconds, then gently lay the meat or ﬁsh skin-side-down into the pan. Fish will curl at this point, so it’s important to gently press the ﬂesh down for 10 seconds to allow full skin contact. Turn down to a medium heat. Here’s the most important bit - cook your protein on the skin side for 3/4 of the totally cook time. Don’t be scared! Get that skin nice and crispy then ﬂip it over for the last minute or two - perfect every time.”
Poaching perfect eggs
“For someone who has poached literally thousands of eggs, I know one thing - keep it simple. No need for cling wrap, silicon pouches, or even swirling the water. Firstly, start with fresh, free range eggs - this is crucial. The older eggs get, the more watery the whites get, so you’ll have a harder time getting them to stay together. Fill a saucepan or deep frying pan 2/3 full with water and bring to a simmer, we just want a few light bubbles. Add 2 tsbp of white vinegar, which repels the egg whites and keeps them together. Crack your eggs straight into the water, or if you’re a bit scared, into a small ramekin then gently drop them in. Use a slotted spoon to tease the whites around the yolk. Poach gently for 3.5 minutes then remove to drain on kitchen paper, and they’re ready to go!”
How to NOT ruin pasta!
“One of the things I see ruined the most is pasta. Whether it’s dry, over-cooked, drowning in sauce, a lot of home cooks struggle. There are a couple of secrets here.
Firstly, dry pasta is better than fresh 99% of the time when cooking at home - it’s cheaper, more versatile and retains better texture.
Next, always cook your pasta one minute less than it says on the packet - it will continue to cook on it’s way to the table.
And please, stop draining your pasta into the sink and drying it out! Drain it loosely and save a mug of the starchy water - then add your pasta straight INTO the pan with the sauce, and let it ﬁnish cooking there. Add a few spoonfuls of the water back in here, and toss the pasta through the sauce. The starch in the water will help to coat the pasta with a beautiful, silky sauce just like the Italians do it. And ﬁnally, just before serving, add a good drizzle of your best olive oil and give it a ﬁnal toss - what you will achieve is pasta that is perfectly cooked, lightly glazed in sauce and almost creamy, without having to add any cream.”
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Get yourself a chef’s set-up
Becoming a good cook is mostly skill with a sprinkling of the right tools to help your food shine.
No self-respecting chef would be caught in a kitchen without sharp knives and proper pans. They also rely on colour-coded chopping boards to swap and change between prepping meats, veggies and herbs or spices for their marinade. If you’re really set on stepping up your cooking game then check out MyDeal home and garden for all your chef-worthy utensils.
Another common beginner’s complaint? Cooking takes soo long. Not when you use blenders, mixers and food processors to do the boring work for you. The only difference between your hand chopped herbs and the processor version is one took a tenth of the time. Cook smarter, not harder and you could be inspired to create more complex dishes. Find the best appliances online at MyDeal.
Cook with confidence now that you have the secrets to a chef-worhty meal.