23 Surprising Cooking Tips You Learn at Culinary School

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1. Sharpening knives

You have to keep your knives sharp. Otherwise, slicing and chopping will be much harder. If you take proper care of your knives — and this is where honing comes in — you’ll only need to sharpen your blade a few times a year. You don’t want to sharpen the knife too often because sharpening takes off metal and wears out the knife. People with dull knives hurt themselves.

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2. Honing knives

Ask any professional chef and he or she will tell you — always hone your knife after every use. Every time you use a knife, some of its teeth will be bent or misaligned. You need to hone the knife in order to keep its edge straight. Hold the honing steel vertically. Press the thickest part of the blade against the steel and pull the knife down towards you.

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3. Drying meat and fish

You want to thoroughly dry any meat you’re cooking. Otherwise, the meat will brown too quickly. Also, if you don’t dry the meat, the moisture left on the surface of the meat will turn into steam, which may cause oil splatters. Dry the meat or fish with paper towels.

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4. Brining meat

A basic brine is simply salt and water. The salinity level is usually between 2% and 5%, depending on how much time the meat is going to be brining. Other items, like herbs and spices, can be added for flavor. Brining helps chefs get their meat — poultry, pork, or beef — perfectly juicy. The meat won’t dry out as fast and you’re less likely to overcook it.

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5. Judging if a pan is running too hot

Getting a stainless steel pan to the right temperature before adding oil and then food can be tricky. But there is an easy way to tell if the pan is hot enough: Add a few drops of water. When they form a single ball of water that rolls round the pan before evaporating, you know it’s time to add the oil. Turn the heat down a bit to prevent the pan from overheating.