Cooking has come a long way from when our ancestors roasted wild animals and local vegetation over an open fire. However, the nature of cooking remains the same: apply heat to make food taste better. At present, more and more people are tired of the processed food with similar taste and ingredients. In order to enjoy the flavor of food, they have discovered an infinite number of ways to prepare and season food. Meanwhile, they are happy to learn how to cook and get educated on the foods they intend to cook.
Step 1: Acquire Recipes
If you are a green hand in cooking, you had better find the recipes about the foods you are going to try. Even though it can be neglect, it is still highly recommended by many professional cooks if you set your mind to mastering the art of cook. First, find out some recipes of dishes from your relatives which you loved or have tried previously. During cooking, when you have trouble with certain steps in the course of cooking, you can consult them to help you out. If you consult online recipes, choose those that have received good reviews or comments, so that you may be able to appreciate the flavor to judge the finer nuances of the dish.
Step 2: Gather Ingredients
Next step is to gather the ingredients for the dish. Get the right ingredients, as fresh and as high quality as you can afford, and in the right amounts. Keep in mind never substitute any ingredients until you become more experienced because they might interact in a way that you’re not aware of, which might affect the cooking process and ruin the final flavor even the entire meal. In fact, professional cooks define it as "mise en place" which include preparing the entire cooking appliances together, and measuring the needed ingredients. Never ignore and look down upon this trivial step because it is regarded as an essential part for the whole cooking process. Keep in mind that this step should be prepared fully before starting your cooking.
Step 3: Clean & Prepare Cooking Materials
Cleaning all the cooking appliances and ingredients is a necessity under any circumstances. In this case, you have to aware that cleaning is prior to the real cooking. It is commonly accepted that foods should be washed before peeling so as to prevent chemicals and dirt from getting into the peeled part. After washing, you should cut the food into uniform slices or pieces so that they cook evenly. The bigger the pieces, the longer they’ll take to cook.
Step 4: Preheat Appliances
Before the real cooking, you have to preheat appliances as needed. There are some small details in this step that are often overlooked. It usually takes an oven about 15 minutes to get to 350°F or 176°C, but every stove is different. Some appliances will beep or make a noise when the temperature is reached; otherwise, you might need to calibrate your oven to determine how long it takes for it to preheat to a certain temperature. Put a thermometer in the center of a rack set in the middle of the oven and turn it to the desired temperature; after 10 minutes, check the thermometer every 5 minutes until the desired temperature is reached and remember how long it took to get there. Hot temperatures cook the outside more, while lower temperatures cook more thoroughly. So, use really hot temperatures to sear the outside of a rare steak or get a thicker crust on bread, but lower temperatures for a well-done steak or a soft crust bread. Stay in the kitchen while the food is cooking. If you walk away, you may end up with a burnt mess that’s stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Step 5: Cooking With Water
Don’t try to make a turkey dinner and start slow from the easy dishes, like cookies or scrambled eggs. If you are not confident in controlling the heat, you may start cooking with boiling, poaching, simmering, and stewing. It’s easier because you have a greater opportunity as to when the food is "done". Stick with water-based cooking until you get a feel for judging when various types of food are done. When possible, taste your dishes frequently while you are cooking, which lets you make sure the balance of spices is correct; it also helps you to learn how flavors develop with cooking.
Step 6: Dry Cooking
If you have qualified for cooking with water, you can move on to "dry" cooking, including grilling, roasting, toasting, broiling, and baking. Now that you know what certain foods feel like when they’re cooked, you need to be able to control the cooking process with your application of heat. If you apply too much heat, the food will burn. If you apply too little, the food will be raw. When you arrange the food in relation to the heat source, center it so that all the food gets cooked evenly; rotate it in the middle of the cooking process if you must. Try to minimize opening the oven door or grill cover, as this lets heat escape and will make the cooking take longer. If you don’t have a recipe, start off with a low amount of heat and see how long the food takes to cook until you determine the maximum heat the food needs to cook in the shortest time without burning.
Step 7: Fry Cooking
Frying is a little more difficult than cooking with water or in an oven because you need to juggle timing, heat, and flipping. Lower the food carefully into the oil, as the oil can splash up and burn you. Use tongs or a wire basket. If sautéing or stir-frying, use a non-stick pan to prevent the food from becoming one with the pan. Pour just a thin layer of oil–pour it into a spoon, then into the pan. The hotter the oil, the more you’ll need to stir whatever you’re frying so that it doesn’t burn or stick. If shallow-frying, in which one third or one half of the food is immersed in oil, the oil is typically used only once. If you’re deep-frying, however, you may be able to use the oil more than once.
Cooking isn’t for everyone, but is supposed to be fun. So if you find yourself dreading it, then it probably isn’t for you. For those who enjoy cooking, don’t worry if you mess up on a recipe. We all make mistakes in our cooking now and then. You just have to use your good judgment to decide whether or not it’s fixable.