Not to brag or anything, but I’m a pretty good home cook.
I’m certainly no professional chef. I’ve had no formal training, and I probably wouldn’t survive the pressures of a professional kitchen.
At the same time, I really enjoy cooking.
Even still, throwing together the same pot of spaghetti every week can get pretty boring. I’ve spent the last several years trying to branch out into different — and more delicious — dishes. Ultimately, it’d be really cool to create recipes that I would normally go to restaurants for.
So, what’s the key to making chef-worthy food at home, when you’re not a chef?
If you want to make restaurant-quality meals at home, you have to start with quality ingredients. The ingredients you choose are like building blocks for your dish.
High quality produce, fats, and even seasonings can transform even the most basic meals into chef-worthy dishes.
I’m willing to bet you’ve heard the saying, “the right tool for the right job,” and it also applies in the kitchen, too. You can’t do your best job without the right equipment. The correct appliances and properly sharpened knives are extremely important when it comes to doing your best cooking.
Plus, using the right utensils and equipment also means saving time and eliminating frustration.
If you’re just starting to get comfortable with culinary arts, it may seem silly when you see all those ingredients pre-cut and pre-measured in tiny ramekins. That’s just more dishes to wash in the end, right?
As it turns out, prepping all your ingredients ahead of time and building a “kit” of sorts is a great way to stay clean and makes sure you don’t forget anything. By weighing, measuring, chopping, or slicing everything first, it means you can pay more attention to cooking.
This has been the hardest habit for me to keep up, but it’s been worth it. Keeping your workspace clean and tidy is incredibly important to staying organized and doing your best cooking. Clean as you go, and if possible, keep a nearby container or bowl to clean up scraps and debris as you work without having to move around.
Ah, umami — that elusive “fifth taste.” If you’ve ever watched Food Network, you’ve likely heard chefs talking about it. While difficult to describe, it increases food palatability and makes food more savory and full-bodied.
In other words, it can really amp up your cooking and take your dish to the next level. Try adding tomato paste, soy sauce, parmesan cheese, miso paste, cured meats, dried mushrooms, or — every chef’s favorite — fish sauce.
I’m no professional chef; just a home chef who likes to cook. It can be so easy to get too involved with trying to make a dish fancy, and too much can definitely be a not-so-great thing. Sometimes, the best advice when trying to make menu-worthy dishes? Keep it simple. Focus on balancing the flavors, and let those quality ingredients shine.