81 Ways to Be a Better Chef

Whether you have trouble boiling water or are a foodie who loves spending time behind the stove, these tips and tricks will make cooks of all levels better at their game. Here are a few dozen of our faves.

[Photo: Charles Masters]

Fish and Seafood

14. A No-stick trick
When grilling delicate meat like salmon that sticks easily to your cooking surface, try holding it about an inch in front of a high-heat grill with your hands and then toss it with a swivel slide onto the grate. The fish should slide a few inches and in the process oil the surface, while also developing a bit of a crust. Let it cook until it gets crisp and has color, then flip to the other side.

15. Extra flaky
A baked fish fillet runs the risk of turning rubbery. Save yours by running a kitchen torch over the surface of the fish to tighten the skin before putting it in the oven. Bake as you would normally and the fillet will come out nice and flaky.

16. Even searing
Before tossing a fillet in a pan to cook, position your knife blade at a 10-degree angle and then scrape firmly a few times across the skin. This will pull some of the moisture off and allow for more even texture without overcooking.

17. Prep like a pro
Need to slice fish superthin—for homemade sushi, perhaps? Toss your fresh fillet in the freezer for a few minutes. Don’t freeze it…just firm up the flesh a bit so it’s easier to cut.

18. Cook in pairs
Tired of shrimp and scallops flipping around on your skewers every time you grill them? Solving the problem is easy. Just thread them through two parallel skewers instead of using just one.

19. Keep cool
Keep shrimp ice cold before peeling. The cool temp makes it easier to remove the head and shell without destroying the meat.

Rice

20. Cook without measuring
Fill a large pot with more water than you think is necessary, add some salt, and bring to a boil. Add the rice, turn heat to low, and simmer until rice grains are chewy. Drain it, put rice back in the pot, and cover with a clean towel until ready to serve.

21. Keep it fluffy 
To keep your rice nice and airy, add half a teaspoon of lemon juice for every two cups of water used to boil the rice.

22. Mix it up
Not so keen on chewy brown rice? Try making a 50/50 mix of brown and white rice. You’ll get a hybrid side dish that’s delicious and full of fiber.

23. Cook in bulk
Make a big batch of rice (or quinoa or beans) and store single servings in freezer- and microwave-safe containers. The sides will keep for up to three months. When you’re ready to defrost, just splash a little water into the bowl, cover with a damp paper towel, and microwave until warm.

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