Beginner’s choice: Every Dish Tells A Story

I mentioned in an earlier blog post, Beginner’s Choice: Sunday Cooking-made-Simple, that the best way to start is to be inspired to cook.

I was looking for people who could inspire others with their story. Then just by coincidence, my cousin Siri told me about Soph, a Singaporean friend of hers in Portugal, who has a YouTube channel which links culture to food. He is fascinated with curries and has some unusual curry recipes, like watermelon curry. (www.youtube.com/weavethestory)

I told Siri that I was looking for people who could inspire others to cook, and her friend Soph obviously had a passion for cooking. The long and the short of the story is that the three of us got together over Zoom to discuss what we could do to inspire people to cook. All three of us learnt to cook by watching other people cook, especially family members. We could not be more different from each other in terms of our professional training, but we all agree that cooking is important to quality of life.

Soph gave us an insight into the creation of the Weave the Story Channel:

My YouTube channel has been my creative avenue, allowing me to attempt different dishes and set challenges for myself. I had doubts about starting the channel as I am not a trained chef or cook. But I’ve always enjoyed cooking and over the years, I have interacted with various people understanding the history and stories of Southeast Asian food.  Weave The Story is the choice as our dishes do not come by coincidence. Every dish has a story behind what it is today, and I want to share a bit of the knowledge I’ve gained and also how our food is interconnected.”

The Weave the Story videos combine travel with cooking, as Soph explains:

One part of the vlog is a travelogue where I share places of interests and hidden gems in Lisbon and Portugal. The second bit is where I share some stories about the dish I’ll be cooking. “Currently, I’m presenting a new series entitled “Dumplings Around the World” presenting dumplings from Asia to Europe and South America. Latest episode on Nepali momo.”

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZstE9b-FeQ&list=UUanN-_S-xxi2lHwYudyrDKg&index=1)

As Siri, Soph and I discussed how we could inspire others to cook, Siri came up with an idea. She said: “If we want to teach beginners, then let’s start at the beginning – like how to boil. That’s a very basic cooking method. Then focus on boiling one item, like how to boil an egg. Then go on to teach a recipe with a boiled egg.” That’s Siri. You can count on her to come up with a plan. I remembered watching one of Soph’s videos in which he cooked a Burmese egg curry. Now it was my turn to have a plan. I could write about boiling then feature Soph’s video on Burmese egg curry.

Boiling

There are many ways of cooking food in water, they include:

Boiling

Simmering

Blanching

Parboiling

To boil food is to cook it to boiling point, which is 212 degrees F or 100 degrees C, or to plunge it in boiling water. To cook by simmering is to immerse food in simmering water. Simmering point is when bubbles rise gently to the surface of the liquid. Simmering is a gentler way of cooking, it’s a gentle boil.  Simmering helps to tenderize meat once it is cooked. Some types of food have to be fully boiled, like rice, pasta and some vegetables.

Blanching or parboiling is to dip certain types of food into boiling water for a short period of time to cook the food partially. Boiling is to cook food fully.

Eggs

Eggs contain a treasure of nutrients: proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. They can be used in many ways and be cooked in many ways.

Boiling an egg might not be so simple for beginners. There are soft-boiled eggs and hard-boiled eggs. But properly speaking, eggs should be simmered and cooked gently rather than boiled (at high heat).  

Soft-boiled eggs

Boil enough water in a pot over high heat to cover a single layer of eggs. Gently lower the eggs into the water with a spoon. Let the water boil again then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 4 minutes for large eggs and 3.5 minutes for small and medium eggs. Serve immediately after cooking.

Hard-boiled eggs

The cooking method is the same as for soft-boiled eggs. Simmer for 14 minutes for large eggs and 12 minutes for small and medium eggs. To stop hard-boiled eggs from over-cooking, plunge them in cold water.

Plunging boiled eggs into cold water makes it easier to peel them.  

Gado gado

Gado gado (mix mix) is an Indonesian vegetable, egg and tofu dish served with a peanut sauce. It is definitely one of my favourite dishes. Some of the vegetables are boiled (carrots, potatoes, cabbages, beans, bean sprouts) and some are raw (cucumber, tomatoes). The vegetables which are cooked are boiled. The degree of doneness of vegetables like carrots and cabbage is a matter of taste. Some people like vegetables to be crunchy.

A boiled vegetable dish can taste good and be very nutritious.

Burmese Egg Curry

Once you have mastered the technique of boiling eggs, you can try a more exciting recipe like Soph’s Burmese Egg Curry.

Curries Around the World / Burmese Curry – YouTube

A big thank you to Siri and Soph for helping me out with this week’s post.

They are two amazingly talented individuals. (Soph’s career background was in arts management and Indonesian gamelan music. Siri contemplated becoming a concert pianist at one point in her life.)  Cooking is one of their many talents.

By Chayo, HomSkil Editor 1, 12 September 2021

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