Perhaps you might think you have got it all figured out. You see yourself as a Dato Fazley or Anis Nabilah prodigy in the kitchen – knife in one hand, two cloves of garlic in the other. It’s a strong, heated battle between you and the garlic. Of course, you have the upper hand and will definitely win, but the horror of the struggle will always haunt you.
Well, why dread it at all when I have solution especially for you. And yes, I’ll share it along with tons of other culinary predicaments… the easy way. Are you ready to transform the way you cook forever? You may wish you had known earlier, but it’s not too late to start hacking into our Malaysian kitchen!
Are my eggs still eggcelent?
Eggs are staple ingredients in our cuisine. I mean, what is Nasi Lemak without an egg? Pan mee without the soft-boiled egg? You unconsciously shop for eggs regularly, and that’s when disaster strikes. You somehow got last week’s leftover eggs jumbled with today’s groceries. Well, all you need to do is gently place the eggs in a bowl of cold water to see which one is fresher.
If the egg sinks to the bottom, it has passed the test. If it floats, well, it has definitely seen better days. Basically, the more the egg sinks, the fresher it is. In case you’re wondering what causes it to float, the liquid inside the eggs tends to evaporate through the shell, leaving traces of gas bubbles inside.
Skimming the excess fat
Honestly speaking, I am a big fan of fats. That’s probably one of the reason why I love Malaysian food so much. We’re very generous with the fats in food. Just writing about it makes me gulp in hunger – imagine a rich curry laksa with its glorious coconut based broth that adds a punch of juiciness to the already tender laksa.
Well, that being said, nothing is good when there is just too much of it. That goes for fats as well. In fact, reducing the amount of fat is pretty simple. You can spoon out the excess fat from sauces, stews or stocks by skimming a few ice cubs gently wrapped in a cheesecloth and dipping it just into its surface. The cold state will solidify the fat and removing the fats will never be easier.
Softie for butter
Hate it or love it, butter is everyone’s best friend. Perhaps its the bubbly disposition that makes it so versatile and effortlessly loved by everyone. Imagine toast with butter or butter chicken. Happiness!
It’s only right to store your leftover butter in the fridge, but the downside is you can’t use it for a quick breakfast or dinner when you’re on a tight schedule. You can speed up the process by grating the butter in a cheese grater or flatten it with a rolling pin wrapped in a plastic bag. All of a sudden, you have got yourself a spreadable butter in a pinch.
Peeling the garlic
Every day is a constant battle with garlic. Hate it or love it, you can never escape from it because well, nothing feels quite right without it. Cutting it is one thing and peeling it is even another, or so you think. Frankly speaking, peeling garlic only takes me 10 seconds. How? Smash a head of garlic with your hand or a knife.
Get a small size jar and put the garlic in it. Cover the jar with a lid and start to shake it off! Shake it off, shake it off vigorously! If you do it right, you can expect to see a naked garlic. Awesome much?
Say no to dry baked goods
If you’re wondering whether I have any Indian food jokes, well, I’ve got Naan. I’m not talking about the dry, hard naan. Just like most people, I love the crispy exterior and the fluffy, light core of it. On most occasions, I love to eat them fresh. However, there are days when I prefer to tapau and eat it while watching my favourite TV series.
Before you argue with me about how hard the naan can be (or any baked goods), mine is still as fresh as ever. Still as crispy and fluffy! The trick is to place a cup of water in the microwave to add moisture to the air and keeps your favourite baked goods from drying out.
Seasoning is the new way of cleaning iron pots
Did you know that seasoning is the new cleaning? If you don’t, it’s a safe bet to say that you might have been cleaning your cast iron pots using your dish soap. Instead of buying more dish soap, you can try this kitchen hack instead.
To clean your cast iron, sprinkle a dust of coarse salt into the bottom of the pan. Take some clean paper towels and gently rub into it. Then, gently heat it over low heat and let the extra moisture evaporate to prevent it from rusting. Oh, it also will get rid of the persistent odours from our rich spices we use. Who knew? You do now!
Bye bye onion tears
If you’re looking for a sign, this is a sign you should break up with your love-hate relationship with onion. No one deserves to make you cry, let alone an onion. If anything, you should prove them you’re a strong, independent individual who will not let them make you cry anymore.
With a little help from the freezer, I am sure you can do it! Put the onion in the freezer 30 minutes before chopping them, and you’re stronger than ever. Do bear in mind this only works if you’re planning to cook the onion because they lose a bit of their crispness.
Struggle of a salty soup
Sometimes, bad things happen when you cook. It’s inevitable. Like putting too much salt in your soup. Of course, you always learn from your mistakes, but in this case, you can somehow rewind it. Toss a whole potato in the soup for a quick fix. Peel the entire potato and just throw it inside.
The potato will absorb the extra sodium, and if you by any chance like your soup thick, the starch from the potato will add a thicker texture to it. Once you get the desired consistency, fish the potato out.
Slipping cutting board
This, my friend, is the oldest trick in any professional cooking book (including the yet-to-be-written kitchen hack bible). Remember to always lay a damp towel (paper or cotton) under your cutting board. It will magically make your cutting board in place at all times, which is very important for safety measures.
We shall not put our health (and fingers) at risk when chopping them onions, dicing them carrots or slicing them watermelon. Let’s agree not to compromise on safety precautions!
No such thing as too many herbs
The title says it all. There’s no such thing as too many herbs when it comes to Malaysian cuisine. We are proud to announce that we love our herbs and nothing is stopping us. Our pantry should always consist of a plethora of herbs. Thankfully, saving those beautiful seasonal herbs are now a piece of cake.
Simply chop them up and cover it with olive oil in an ice tray. Wrap it beautifully in a plastic wrap and pop out individual cubes whenever you need a touch of green in your meal. It will harmonise peacefully in the pan and retain its fresh flavour all year long!
Of course, as a nation who loves to cook just as much as we love to eat, I don’t think we can resist cooking hacks that can save our time, money and tears (or blood!). Well, what is your favourite kitchen hacks? Don’t forget to share this with fellow chefs at home! Who knows they might comment down below with other tips and tricks.