Chefs Are Sharing The One Thing They Want The Rest Of Us To Know About Cooking

Getting into cooking can be a daunting thing — that's why so many of us don't trust ourselves to make anything more complex than spaghetti and sauce.

If you want real advice from real chefs, the r/AskReddit thread, "What's one rule of cooking that amateurs need to know?" is the perfect place to get some expert advice.

Don't get burned.

Unsplash | Clint Patterson

"When you take something out of the oven, a pot, pan, skillet, sheet, tray, whatever; drape a towel or oven mitt over the handle/edge of it. That way you or anyone else understands that it’s hot and not to be grabbed bare handed."


Keep those blades clean.

Unsplash | Cooker King

"If you're using a steel/hone on a blade, ALWAYS RUN THE BLADE THROUGH A FOLDED UP PAPER TOWEL A FEW TIMES AFTERWARDS! If you don't, there are small steel particles that cling to the blade that can and WILL come off in the next thing you cut."


Keep those blades sharp.

"You’re just going to enjoy cooking more if you have a SHARP knife. No clue how people can hack away at veggies and meat. No reason to go insane either, a $30 Victorinox and $5 sharpener will get you a very long way."


Be careful with high heat.

Unsplash | KWON JUNHO

"This one's kind of common sense, but hotter doesn't mean faster - turning your burners up to 10 for everything will just lead to smoke and half-cooked food with a burned exterior. High heat can and should be used when appropriate, especially if you know how to control your heat on a stovetop by moving the pan itself on and off the heat and keeping the food moving constantly."


Sometimes things need salt, and sometimes they need something a little different.

Unsplash | Pavel Neznanov

"A lot of the time when people add salt to a dish because they think it tastes flat, what it really needs is an acid like lemon juice or vinegar."


Learn how to properly stagger cooking times.

Unsplash | Katie Smith

"Learn how to properly store raw ingredients in a fridge (raw chicken on bottom).

"Understand times and temps. It's possible to stack times and ingredients so that your food is done at the same time."


Allow cooked meat to rest.

"When you take steak or pork or lamb off of the heat or out of the oven, always give it time to rest, usually half the amount of time you cooked them, and I tend to loosely cover them in tinfoil."


Cut veggies into appropriate sizes.

Unsplash | Randy Fath

"Really think about what size you're cutting your vegetables in relation to cook time. It's better to have a perfectly cooked larger vegetable that you have to use fork and knife a bit to eat at the table than a bunch of overcooked, mushy bite sized pieces."


Know how to handle a grease fire.

"Never ever EVER throw water on a grease fire.

"Don’t try moving it either. Turn off the heat, place a lid on it or smother it with baking soda, if you don’t have a fire extinguisher. Also, consider buying a fire extinguisher if you don’t already have one."


Prep, prep, prep.

Unsplash | Conscious Design

"Brine your chicken. Let the rice dry before you make fried rice. Slow cook your meats. Overall the actual time you invest is about the same but it requires some foresight. Don’t expect to just grab a chicken breast out of freezer and be able to make a delicious meal in 20 minutes. A lot of the best dishes take some time to let the flavors do their work."


Don't be negative about your meal.

"If you put a lot of effort into making a meal for your loved ones and something doesn't come out the way you hoped for, don't bitch and complain and apologize for it when everyone is eating. Otherwise a crappy dish turns into a crappy experience for all."


Cleaning as you go makes things much easier later on.

Unsplash | Brooke Lark

"Clean as you go! Done with the cutting board? Wash it or put it away before you move on to the next step. A clean kitchen makes your life way easier."


Taste as you go.

"Taste everything. For reals. EVERYTHING! I tell my cooks to do this because you start building up a database in your head of flavors. I will legit taste raw garlic, turmeric, horseradish, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, cumin, etc, as well as all my cooked dishes. That way I know how to 'fix' dishes or know exactly what to add to it to make it complete."


Make your own salad dressing.

"Make your own vinaigrettes. It's easy, substantially cheaper, and tastes absolutely infinitely better and fresher than store-bought dressing. I haven't bought dressing in years.

"There are a million-and-one different ways to make a vinaigrette, and you'll figure out the exact ratios you like."


Don't ruin your pans.

Unsplash | Annie Spratt

"I've seen so many instances of people talking about how 'nonstick doesn't work. It goes away a week after you buy the pans' when in reality they are treating the things like cast iron and using every metal utensil they can find on it."


When in doubt, add acid.

Unsplash | Tom Paolini

"Does a savory dish lack something, but the salt levels are ok? Try adding something sweet or/and acidic. A splash of apple juice can go a long way in a stew or a bit of honey in your chili could blow your mind."


Learn the general formula.

Unsplash | Becca Tapert

"Most foods, especially stuff you eat often, is not complicated in terms of steps or ingredients, and every dish can be tweaked with what you have. It may technically be another dish, but the gist is there. So don’t sweat specifics, but learn the general fat/salt/acid, herbal, umami, spicy balances and you can make anything."


Different veggies require different treatment.

Unsplash | Lars Blankers

"Generally speaking, vegetables grown above ground (peas, broccoli, etc.) should be placed in already boiling water. If it's grown underground (potatoes, carrots, etc.) you should put it in cold water and bring up to boil."


Make sure to preheat the pan.

Unsplash | Louis Hansel - Restaurant Photographer

"Wait for the pan to get hot before adding ingredients.

"Less sticking to pan, and a better cook overall.

"I cry inside every time I watch my wife place something in a pan and there’s no 'kksssssssss' immediately."


Know your olive oils.

Unsplash | jonathan ocampo

"Extra Virgin has an extremely low smoke point, so cooking with it often leads to burnt food and a smoky kitchen. It is intended for dressing and garnishing. Regular olive oil has a much higher smoke point and is meant for cooking. They are not the same."


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