Masterchef Australia 2013 contestant —- Rishi Desai, dishes out his expert tips for amateur chefs to Kasmin Fernandes :
SEASON AT THE START : Correct seasoning is as much about adding salt at the start (so you can adjust the proportions often) as it is about how mush you season dishes. If you happen to over-season, try to bulk up the dish with a neutral ingredient (like barley), balance the salt with a of dash of vinegar, or neutralise it by adding some butter.
MANAGE MULTIPLE CUISINES : Whether you plan to work in a professional kitchen or appear on a reality cookery show on TV, both involve high pressure environments. To prepare, time yourself wile cooking at home. Manage multiple dishes and processes single-handedly, and get feedback for the final dishes from friends who’ll not mince words.
DON’T BUY GROUND SPICES : Always buy spices WHOLE instead of READILY GROUND. Whole spices stay longer (over a year), and lend more vibrancy in flavour. It is important to grind whole spices with a pestle and mortar instead of a mixer-grinder.
COOK MOIST OR DRY : Dry heat cooking includes techniques such as roasting, broiling or sautéing, while moist heat cooking refers to braising, steaming and poaching. Master both styles, so you can cook practically anything.
KNOW YOUR KNIFE SKILLS : If you are skilled with knife-work, it indicates that you don’t take short cuts and take pride in cooking. There are a variety of knife-cuts you can learn, like julienne, dice and brunoise.
PLAY WITH TEXTURE : Find ways to bring textures to dishes. For instance, add chopped celery or spring onions to mashed potatoes for a bit of crunch and aroma. Pasta can be topped with peppered bread crumbs before baking : the crisp crumbs will contrast with the soft cheese and firm pasta.
BE A PLATING PUNDIT : To enjoy food, one must activate all the 5 senses, and sight is one of them. This makes visual presentation as important as taste. While plating a dish, maintain a balance. However, don’t make it so stark that it looks like no effort has gone into it. Even a few sprigs of herbs and some sauce, added artistically, can have a beautiful effect.