Recipe For Success: Home Cooks, Steer Clear Of These Cooking Blunders
Cooking at home has its benefits – for one, it’s healthier and you can control what goes into your food. It can also be incredibly therapeutic for some people. Being an avid home chef myself, it took me some hits and misses to realise that there are some blunders that you should just not commit in the kitchen. Read on to discover if you’ve been doing certain things wrongly and how to rectify them.
Refreezing food after thawing it
Have you ever thawed frozen meat and refrozen it? Our very own SFA says cannot ah. Thawed meat is exposed to bacteria, especially when thawing is done at room temperature. Moisture loss also happens when you thaw and refreeze food, so if you don’t want that prime cut of Wagyu to feel like leather, avoid doing so.
Instead, split your food into several portions before freezing it so that you won’t be in a situation where you’ll have to refreeze excess portions.
Using metal utensils on non-stick surfaces
Metal utensils are the worst culprits on non-stick cookware as they will scratch and damage the non-stick coating, which really defeats the purpose of having a non-stick pan. Switch to silicone utensils that are safe with high heat so that you don’t have to keep buying new non-stick cookware.
Not disinfecting your chopping board after using
Chopping boards are used for a variety of food – from fresh produce to raw meat. While fresh produce doesn’t warrant more than a rinse of the board in soapy water after usage, it’s a different story with raw meat. Leaving the board unwashed and not disinfected after usage is a sure-fire way to encourage breeding of bacteria (eek, salmonella).
To get rid of pesky bacteria, you can use either a home-made solution of one teaspoon of bleach to three cups of water or commercial sanitisers that you can get off the shelf. Soak the board in the bleach solution and leave it for two to three minutes for the bleach to work its magic. Then, wash the solution off and use dishwashing liquid to get rid of any remaining bleach odour.
Washing your eggs long before using them
Has your Asian mum ever nagged you for not washing your eggs before cracking them? Well, you should wash your eggs, but only just before using them - to get rid of any dirt on the surface that might contaminate your eggs. Rinsing your eggs essentially gets rid of the natural protective coating that keeps air and bacteria out of the egg (whut, eggshells are porous?!).
If you feel icky about not washing your eggs before storing them, make sure you refrigerate them after washing. Otherwise, feel free to leave unwashed eggs out of the fridge at room temperature.
Not preheating the pan or oven
Adding food and oil to a cold pan is just a huge no-no. This will highly likely result in the food sticking to the pan and not getting a good sear. It doesn’t hurt to heat your pan for a few minutes before throwing in the ingredients. The same goes for the oven – preheat it for 10 to 15 minutes before putting in your food. This ensures that the temperature is right for the food to start cooking once you place it in the oven.
Not using day-old rice for fried rice
Don’t commit one of the “fried rice sins” that will have Uncle Roger going haiyaaaa. Freshly cooked rice is soft, steamy and full of moisture, which makes it the perfect recipe for disaster (aka clumpy fried rice). CMI sia. Refrigerating your rice overnight will result in drier and nicely separated grains, which means getting Uncle Roger’s and Asian mums’ stamp of approval.
Not soaping your hands after handling raw meat
If you don’t want to get sick from cross-contamination, always wash your hands with soap after handling raw meat. Raw meat can be a breeding ground for various bacteria colonies such as E. coli, salmonella and listeria. By not disinfecting your hands, bacteria can be transferred to other items that you touch subsequently – which can lead to food poisoning, and in some cases, hospitalisation. Oof, not a sitch you’d want to find yourself or a loved one in. So, don’t be lazy, and give your hands a good scrub.