When you are cooking without a recipe, it can seem like a very daunting task. You will be plagued with doubts and questions. Will the food be undercooked or overcooked? Will it taste good? Will anyone eat it? Overcoming these challenges is not easy, but Ido Fishman has shared a few simple tips that can help you rely less on recipes and more on your intuition. This will allow you to start cooking confidently and not have to look at a recipe again. Some of these tips are highlighted below:
- Substitute ingredients similar in shape, size and flavor
You can make simple ingredient swaps in the recipes you love. It is acceptable to swap ingredients that are similar in shape, size and flavor. For instance, you can swap red onions for white and spinach for kale. However, go with savory recipes first until you have mastered the art of swapping.
- Cook your aromatics first
According to experts like Ido Fishman, ingredients like spices, garlic and onions have to be cooked in order to develop their flavor and to get rid of their raw edge. When you are creating your own recipe, start by cooking the aromatics first in oil. This allows the ingredients to develop their flavor and also infuses the oil with same.
- Learn basic cooking ratios
The foundation of most recipes involve grains, rice, legumes and pasta, so you should know how to cook them. Ido Fishman claims that if you memorize simple ratios like how much water is needed for cooking rice, you can have a solid foundation for cooking.
- Use salt and acid for seasoning
In every step of the cooking process, it is a good idea to season the food with salt, whether it is sautéing the onions or directly before serving. This can result in a delicious final dish and ensures that you don’t end up with bland results. Also, Ido Fishman emphasizes that food also needs acid. You can elevate flat dishes with a touch of vinegar or lemon juice.
- Learn to make a few sauces
The backbone of numerous dishes are sauces, so you can improvise if you learn some solid recipes. You can turn a classic cream sauce into a delicious Alfredo or melt some shredded cheese into it to make it a creamy mac ‘n’ cheese. The key is to learn how to make a few basic sauces and then adjust them to whatever you are cooking.
- Keep your pantry stocked
When you have a reasonable stock of staple cooking ingredients, such as lentils, rice and cornmeal, it will give you the flexibility you need for creating new dishes and tweaking them as you want. It is recommended repeatedly on the Ido Fishman blog to build a collection of staple ingredients in the pantry before you move onto the fridge. The latter will require ingredients like milk, eggs and butter. This will make cooking a lot easier for you.
- Add dried herbs at the start and fresh at the end
Bear in mind that dried herbs are added during cooking in order to infuse their flavor into the dish. You will not be able to taste them if they are added in the end. On the other hand, fresh ones are added at the end because if they are overcooked, they tend to become bitter.
- Know the time of cooking for different cuts of meat
Not all cuts of meat are created equal and Ido Fishman states that it is necessary to know the ones that can be used in quick cooking applications and which might need more time. Lean cuts or steaks are better for quick cooking, while roasts, briskets or shoulder are better for long ones.
Keep these tips in mind and you will no longer have to depend on any recipes to make the dish you are planning on cooking.