How to improve cooking skills

BURNING QUESTIONS

June 18, 2008|By Kathleen Purvis | Kathleen Purvis,McClatchy-Tribune

You wrote recently about learning techniques instead of just following recipes. Do you have any suggestions on how to develop techniques? I'd like to work on my skills.

There are some great books out, including Tom Colicchio's Think Like a Chef or James Peterson's Cooking, which is packed with step-by-step photos.

But another thing I like to suggest to beginning cooks is to explore Chinese cooking. It's a great way to focus on techniques or methods.

Preparing vegetables in uniform pieces for a stir-fry can teach you knife skills. Putting together the sauces can teach you balance of flavors.

Most important of all, because wok cooking is so fast, you have to prepare everything in advance. That can teach you timing, one of the hardest things to learn.

Bookstores are packed with great works on the subject, including Grace Young's The Breath of the Wok or Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's The Chinese Kitchen.

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