Celebrity chef Adam Liaw has shared the five simple tips that will transform your cooking – and why trying them will give you a professional finish every time.
The food writer and Masterchef winner explained that improving your cooking is as simple as adding some sugar to your savoury dishes and a pinch of salt to sweet desserts.
He also said said that while cooking can be difficult, not everything you do in the kitchen has to be.
Adam’s first tip is that you should always use more oil than a recipe says.
‘Adding a little extra oil will make frying easier, give you more even browning (more on that later), help prevent sticking, carry flavours and improve the mouthfeel of dishes,’ he told Good Food.
If you’re worried about eating too much oil, then don’t be overly panicked – as much of the oil we cook with never ends up in our bodies.
Instead, it gets left in the pan or on our plates.
If you’re looking to elevate any dish, Adam said a ‘dash of fish sauce’ is possibly the easiest thing you can do.
‘In your red curry it’s a no-brainer, but it’ll also improve your beef bourguignon, salad dressings and spaghetti bolognese,’ he said.
If you’re ever out of stock, Adam recommends mixing a teaspoon of fish sauce with one or two cups of water for an affordable substitute.
He said the effect is much like anchovies as it will boost the flavour of anything it touches.
If you’re looking for balance in your cooking, you can’t go wrong with a pinch of sugar when you’re making savoury foods and a dash of salt in your desserts.
Adam explained his grandmother taught him that a little sugar in his stir-fries helps to caramelise the flavours, while salt helps to balance ingredients like flour, eggs, butter and milk.
Adam said turning foods brown is ‘perhaps the single most important aspect of good cooking’.
We call it caramelisation, but it’s actually down to several chemical reactions.
Adam recommends you brown everything from onions to your meats.
It’s recommended that you do this slowly, to allow the caramelisation to fully develop.
Finally, Adam said that many dishes lack acidity – and for this reason you should always finish your gravies and stews with a little vinegar.
‘The thing is, acids are volatile things and so we often lose acidity when we cook things, particularly dishes that are cooked for a long time such as roasts and stews,’ Adam said.
The chef recommends adding a tiny dash of red or whine wine vinegar before serving a sauce, gravy or stew.
He said it can make ‘the world of difference’.