How I Teach Cooking

The most important thing I can teach people is to not follow recipes – only sometimes use them as a basic guide. If they insist on following recipes, then I can't really help them much, but they can find ten million recipes on the internet for free.

That's because, in my experience, those people who rely on recipes never get good at cooking. They sometimes have good luck with a particular recipe. But as soon as there's a small change in the quality of ingredients or the cooking environment, then their recipe stops producing such good results. But they don't understand why, so they don't know what they have to change to make it work. (Also it's hard for them to be versatile or creative because they don't know how to safely adjust the recipe for different numbers of guests or a different kitchen or to add different ingredients. They just guess and hope).

This is the biggest problem for people learning cooking, because, for example, the cooking behavior of an ingredient can vary a lot depending on the season, or the source, or how it is chopped. These changes aren't obvious for them, but suddenly their favorite recipe stops working.

For example, for the fast boiling cooking process which is used in a lot of small noodle restaurants and also by ordinary people at home, instead of just saying "boil this ingredient for 1 minute, and boil that ingredient for 45 seconds at 85 degrees".

The fast boiling technique is extremely effective, which is why so many street restaurants use it. However, because it heats food so rapidly, it's also strongly influenced by the quality, shape, size and quantity of ingredients. The readers need to genuinely understand what they're doing to use this technique successfully and consistently.

They'll never learn this if they just try to cook based on a recipe, a timer and a thermometer. They need to forget about all those numbers and rules, because they're only a starting point. They must learn how ingredients naturally change appearance, color, taste and texture as they are cooked, and how to blend and balance flavors to create the perfect result. Only then can they adjust their cooking method to deal with different situations and understand what to change when something goes wrong.

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