The microwave oven will probably end up the top-scorer but what cooking method or instrument do you prefer? Some examples are the grill, an air fryer, an Instant Pot, a MultiPot, a glass bowl convection oven, Dutch oven, cast iron pan/pot, a campfire, the stove… I’ve been thinking about getting an air fryer but I do have a lot of other kitchen gadgets already.
Porcelainized fry pan.
Yes, cast iron fry pans are stalwarts handling everything from stews and chilis over a campfire and on to the favourite of Italian mothers to make sauces, yet still can gently fry an egg over easy. But the porcelainized fry pan is lighter to handle, easier to clean and keep, and is so forgiving - foods don’t stick, unless you are a hopeless klutz over an open burner in which case my recommendation is totally lost on you.
Oooh, thanks for the tip! I have a gas stove and love campfire cooking so it’s not a lost recommendation.
I tell you what I miss: my mother’s old popcorn popper. I can remember using it in the early 1960s, but it was considerably older than that (might have been from the 1940s, but I can’t be sure). It was a medium-sized orange enameled pot with an orange enameled lid that had a sturdy metal stirring rod built in. The rod was dog-legged to make it easier to use and had a wooden knob on the end to grip onto. You put oil and popcorn kernels into the pot, put it on the stove, and kept stirring until the popcorn was all popped. I don’t remember ever having burnt or unpopped kernels with that beauty!
Yeah, those were the best types of popcorn poppers since they didn’t leave any unpopped or burnt kernels. #dontmakethemliketheyusedto
I’m really surprised more people don’t know about the ‘velvetized’ method. How many of us have gone into a Chinese restaurant and were amazed at how tender the beef or chicken is? There is a very common method (to the Chinese) for doing this which many people aren’t aware of, and it’s so easy!
There are a few variations of it so here is the main thing to remember: You want to coat your protein with a thin layer of cornstarch so when you cook it (at high temperature), the coating prevents the water (juices) inside the meat or chicken from evaporating and leaving it dry while it is cooking. At the same time the inside remains soft and tender, the surface is getting that nice ‘wok hei’ effect (breath of the wok), which is an almost charred flavor.
- Put your protein in a bowl. Crack enough egg whites (only) to mix with the protein and get it coated.
- Pour cornstarch into bowl and massage well, so that there is a thin, white ‘velvet’ covering over the protein (gooey= too much cornstarch).
- Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. Better still, put it in a plastic baggie and lay it flat in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, then turn it over for another 15 minutes.
That’s all there is to it. You can now buy cheaper cuts of beef (e.g. flank or skirt) and still get that great tenderness you get in Chinese restaurants.
Note- You will see variations of this online which substitute rice wine for egg white for example, or add sesame oil, soy sauce, salt, pepper, etc. as additional flavors. Any variation is fine. Just keep in mind the principle of being able to coat the protein lightly with cornstarch.
I’m a big fan of my rice cooker. When I lived in Taiwan, a neat thing people did was to chop up sweet potato or taro and put a layer on top of the rice, then simply turn on the machine. You get rice and perfectly cooked sweet potato mixed in!
So as an FYI in the States this method with or without the egg white or rest time is called sautéing. Though it’s true the most common way sautéing tends to be done is a lite dusting of flour on the meat and in the hot pan right away.
I would not consider the two the same. Sautéeing cooks large or small pieces of food in a wide, shallow pan over medium-high heat, turning often or just once. The fat may be a combination of butter and oil.
Stir-fry can’t use butter because the heat is too high, typically 400F -700F (if using a commercial burner), and the tossing and flipping is non-stop and constant. In addition, you only use small pieces of protein and typically only cook 1-2 servings at a time in a wok. Finally, the maximum amount of time you stir-fry is 1-2 minutes, and that is what gives the food its charred and tender effect