There are those of us who take to cooking quite naturally, this article is not for you, babes. I love you and we can shoot the breeze about homemade kimchi or sourdough starters next time.
Words: Chef Dana Bosch
This article is for the people for whom boiling an egg is a feat as brave as climbing Everest. (Do not put an egg into boiling water. Results will be disastrous). I see you.
These people live among us; the bachelor who only orders take out, or those loves who keep Woolworths in business with those prepacked convenience meals.
What all those fancier foodies haven’t been telling you is that you can cook anything when you have the cheat codes.
Cheat code 1: Trust the experts
There will always be someone who knows more than you. Follow their advice. There are tried and tested formulas (recipes) that inform how to cook delicious food.
Read many recipes. The more recipes you read, the more similarities you pick up. Samin Nosrat is a chef/writer/teacher who travelled in search of the fundamentals of good food and has written down these secrets to mastering cooking in her award winning book, Salt Fat Acid Heat.
Cheat code 2: Watch the Netflix doccie for the shorthand version.
According to Samin there are four main principles that need to be considered when cooking something delish.
Cheat code 3: Salt Fat Acid Heat
To demonstrate her point I’m going to apply her cheat codes to something simple, familiar and universally scrumptious: the margarita pizza. Stripped down to its bra and panties, a margarita pizza is just bread dough, cheese, tomato sauce and fresh sliced tomatoes too, cooked together in a pizza oven that is about as hot as Cardi B’s video for ‘WAP.’
The pizza base is really just the vehicle for flavour here. And any good vehicle for flavour (think popcorn) needs to be well-seasoned.
The tomato sauce is usually an injection of seasoning and what we would call our Salt component. The cheese is our delicious Fat and the sliced tomato brings the Acid. And my ‘WAP’ house metaphor for a pizza oven is most certainly the Heat.
This formula works on everything from the most simple of snacks like slaptjips with vinegar, to more complex dishes like confit duck à l’orange. If you understand how all ingredients conform to these building blocks you can mix and match
Cheat code 4: Keep it fresh
Using fresh ingredients is a start. But sometimes the addition of a fresh crunchy ingredient as a garnish can elevate a very basic meal. I’m not talking about a sad sprig of parsley but rather a handful of basil. Take our humble margarita pizza, serve it with a handful of fresh basil and you elevate it from late night takeaway pizza to artisanal farmer’s market pizza.
Cheat code 5: Experiment
My final Cheat code is to give yourself the room to experiment. Nobody is Gordon Ramsey overnight. We all start with a few cracked eggs.