Despite the kitchen being my absolute favorite space in my new house, I’ve been avoiding cooking at all costs over the past two months due to severe morning sickness. Feeling painfully nauseous has kept me miles away from the kitchen and anything at all related to food has been a big no-no but now I’m feeling better I can’t wait to get back into cooking again (and I am sure my family can’t wait too….no more last minute takeaway orders and random, scrappy leftovers!). The truth is, morning sickness or not, it’s all too easy to fall into a cooking slump, where it’s just more convenient to eat the same meals day after day. But challenging ourselves to move outside our comfort zones and try new things is actually incredibly rewarding, enjoyable and – if you approach it from a slow, mindful perspective – can even be relaxing.
If you’ve ever tried teppanyaki, where grilled Japanese food gets tossed around in the air, you’ll know just how special and amusing different cooking techniques can be. Connecting with historical techniques is also a great way to learn from and engage with other cultures.
From the clever to the downright strange, we’ve found a bunch of different cooking methods for you to test out. Get inspired by the awesome HelloFresh recipes library and include your family and friends throughout the cooking process to make the experience extra fun!
Sous-vide is a French cooking technique which translates to “under vacuum” and has been around since the 1970s. It has recently enjoyed a spurt of popularity, though it isn’t considered a conventional method. The process involves placing meat, fish or vegetables into a sealed plastic bag and then cooking it in a water bath at a low, controlled temperature for an extended period of time. This ensures that the food is tender, nutrient-rich and cooked through evenly. This is a great method for cooking like a pro-chef and impressing your friends and family.
You’ve been warned - this one isn’t vegan-friendly. This technique – literally stuffing one animal into another and cooking it – has supposedly been around since the Middle-Ages, when the cockentrice (pig and turkey) was on feast menus. Most famous in modern times is the turducken, a combination of turkey, duck and chicken. It makes for an impressive centrepiece at Christmas and Thanksgiving gatherings around the world, and there are plenty of recipes online for you to try. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could always make up your own combination!
This technique will get you cooking like a world-class chef. This is essentially a really cold plate (around -34.44 °C) which allows you to flash freeze things like purees and sauces into a semi-solid state. It takes time to master this method, but the results are worth it. The outside of your food will be stable and crunchy and the inside will be soft and creamy. Examples of things you can make include mousses, ice-creams, foams and popsicles. It’s also fascinating to watch liquids turn to solids right before your eyes! The kids will love this one.
If you’ve ever wondered what makes South East Asian cuisine so delicious and so difficult to replicate, this technique is part of the reason. The name varies depending on the language and region – Chaunk in Hindi, Tadka in Punjabi, tempering in English (and there are more!) – but they are all essentially the same technique, and have been around for hundreds of years. The process involves swiftly frying whole spices in ghee to release their oils. Some recipes will do this at the beginning, others at the end (after cooking the meat or vegetables). This method helps to give your dish a stronger, more authentic flavour.
This one might just be the oldest technique in the book. Believed to be one of the first methods humans used to cook their food, earth ovens existed across many civilisations throughout history and are still used today. An earth oven is essentially a pit in the ground filled with hot stones which cooks food by trapping in heat, though there are different versions. The food can take hours to a day to cook, but the result is an evenly-cooked, tender meal. It’s also a cheap way to cook, as there is no need for electricity or gas. Here’s a guide to building your own.
Food doesn’t just sustain us, it connects us. By engaging with history and the world around us, we are able to re-imagine the way we think about food. So get your loved ones together and get cooking! Enjoying the process of making food means the eating is much more enjoyable and cooking becomes an experience rather than a chore.