Up your kitchen game


You know how you get coaxed into buying pretty drawer separators or organisers, only to find they don’t fit in your drawer?

Or, you read up instructions on the Internet on the 10 different steps for making the perfect scrambled egg. Or having to measure the temperature of your oil, and getting just the right-sized pot to deep-fry your chicken.

Well, I’m here to tell you that life needn’t be that complicated.

Sometimes, there’s an easier way which you didn’t know about, simply because no one pointed it out to you.

Once you discover how easy it is to adapt and change up your game, nothing will intimidate you in the kitchen!

Here are several tips that can help you along the way.

There’s an easier way to make fries. — FilepicThere’s an easier way to make fries. — Filepic

1. French fries

They say to make the perfect French fries, you need to soak the raw potato in water for a while, dry them and then double fry to get crispy potato. On top of that, you need to watch the fire so that it’s just the right flame lest your fries are soggy or get burnt. Well, you could do all that, or you could boil the potatoes first, let it air-dry for a bit after removing them from the boiling water, and then fry them in oil. It cuts cooking time by half and you still get fries that are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

A spaghetti container that’s perfect for storing knives. — Photos: PATSY KAMA spaghetti container that’s perfect for storing knives. — Photos: PATSY KAM

2. Reuse small containers

It’s so easy to get enticed by the ads, especially when you see drawers with the cutlery all neatly arranged. You buy the cutlery organiser, only to find it doesn’t fit in your drawer properly, or you’ve got too much stuff so it’s still messy anyway. Let’s be practical and make use of the existing plastic containers in the house. All those free ones you get when you buy stuff, or the plastic boxes that have been piled up for recycling. You might find one that’s just right to store your teaspoons. Reuse the boxes to store your spices, cake ingredients, dry foodstuff – it’s so satisfying when you get one that’s a perfect fit! And you didn’t have to spend any extra money!

3. Soup pouch

Most clear soups are simple and don’t require much seasoning. But if you like your soup with lots of different herbs and spices, it can be more work straining the soup later, or scooping the herbs out. You can get a soup pouch or bag and fill it with garlic, peppercorn, cinnamon stick, angelica roots and any other seasoning or herb that is supposed to go in your soup. Then, just dunk this pouch into the soup to boil and when it’s done, just remove the whole pouch. It’s also easier to clean the pot later.

Half-boiled egg maker for perfect eggs.Half-boiled egg maker for perfect eggs.

4. Perfect half-boiled egg

A version of the poached egg, you need to boil some water and then lower in your egg, and leave them in for about seven minutes for the perfect half-boiled egg. Or, you could buy a half-boiled egg maker for RM10 or less. Just put the raw eggs in the upper part of the container and pour in boiling hot water. By the time the water finished emptying into the lower compartment, you’d end up with perfectly made half-boiled eggs. Every single time. FYI, the gadget was invented by a Malaysian!

5. Parchment paper

If you’re a frequent baker, you’ll probably have parchment paper readily available in the kitchen. But you may not always have those disposable paper cupcake or muffin holders. If you’re in the middle of baking and find yourself in a bind, you could always use parchment paper to line your muffin tray. It comes out looking like a cupcake should.

Blend a piece of bread after blending spices. — FilepicBlend a piece of bread after blending spices. — Filepic

6. Blend bread

Most people are quite particular and have separate blenders, one to grind chilli and spices, and another for nuts and fruits. But if you only have one food processor, you could try putting in a slice of stale bread after you’ve gone through the garlic and onions. It can absorb most of the smell and residue, and you can even toast this later to make savoury bread crumbs.

Use leftovers to make a nourishing soup. — FilepicUse leftovers to make a nourishing soup. — Filepic

7. Leftover soup

Some days, especially after a celebration, you’re just stuck with so much leftovers that you don’t know what to do with them. There’s only so many times you want to eat the same leftover food and you can’t be giving them away to people either. Short of feeding it to the dog (which may not be a good idea as some spices may be toxic to them), make a nice, healthful pot of soup for humans. Depending on the kind of leftovers available, you can make Chai Boey (Mustard green) – a Chinese savoury, spicy and sour soup that’s really appetising. Or if the flavours are more Western-inclined, mix everything in a pot and maybe even add some potatoes and carrots; you’ll end up with a really yummy stew!

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