Weekend Cooking: On Tasting While Cooking

Do you taste your food while cooking? Or do you wait until the end and hope for the best?

Tasting food during cooking might be second nature to some of us, but maybe not for all. Getting to know your dish in all its stages and what flavors taste good to you is a big part of learning to cook beyond the recipe.

You may laugh, but it takes practice! Those of us who have been to culinary school can attest that taste! taste! taste! is one of the most frequently heard commands from the chef instructors.

We smell our food while it's cooking and can distinguish a good smell (garlic!) from bad (burning!). We see when the onions become translucent or a soup comes to a boil.

Tasting is just taking this one step further.

Going from thinking "How is this supposed to taste?" to "How do I think this tastes?" is a difficult habit to break. It's hard letting go of pre-conceived ideas of how something should taste. Or getting over the anxiety of trying a new recipe with new ingredients and having no clue how it should taste. Or wanting a dish to be perfect.

Try to zero in on whether or not you like the flavors. If you do, chances are that everyone else will too.

As you're going about your cooking this weekend, pause now and again to taste what you're making.

  • Try each raw vegetable before throwing it in the pot so you see how the flavor and texture changes.
  • If you're making a salad dressing, try it by itself first and then with a few ingredients from your salad.
  • If you're adding spices to a soup or sauce, taste the sauce after you add each spice to see how it changes.
  • Taste everything at the beginning, middle, and end of cooking to see how things change.

Go forth and taste!

Related: Salting to Taste

(Photo Credit: WHITE Spoon by Geishaboy500 via Flickr Creative Commons)

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