So many people are guilty of not tasting the food they cook or before they serve it. You can make a recipe a few times and think that you don’t need to taste it anymore while cooking but it’s far from the truth. Tasting allows you to make adjustments, to learn how the flavors change and meld as you add more ingredients, and teaches you how properly to season food.
Tasting during the cooking process is one of the reasons most good chefs and home cooks have gained a few extra pounds in their search for the best possible flavor combinations (to help prevent this, you have to remember that you tasted while cooking and cut your serving portions when sitting down to eat). Learn to just take a small taste; don’t let your tasting become a serving size.
By tasting in many cases, you can actually cut the levels of salt added instead of just dumping in a measured amount. For example, I used to buy the one-pound packages of frozen veggies. When I cooked them, I would cover them with water, add a teaspoon of salt, and put them on the stove to cook without another thought. Of course I thought they tasted fine and no one complained, in fact my family called me a good cook (I grew up in the South where salt and grease are a way of life).
It wasn’t until I moved to Colorado and started experimenting with new ingredients that I took a real interest in learning how to cook properly. I would spend hours on the Internet and watching the Food Network or other cooking shows (“taste your food” is one of Chef Gordon Ramsey’s favorite things to yell), looking up cooking techniques and my husband’s best friend was a five-star chef. He started teaching me a simple techniques and tips that chefs used to make the wonderful, melt in your mouth dishes you get while fine dining.
I soon learned tasting was the most important part of cooking. A good chef never serves his meal without making sure it tastes right.
Now I rarely cook with frozen veggies (unless they are ones from my garden or the local farmer’s market, put up for the winter) and I don’t throw veggies in a pot of water with a teaspoon of salt to cook. Instead, the veggies are steamed or blanched, often in veggie or chicken stock, then tossed in a hot non-stick skillet with a little olive oil, fresh minced garlic and herbs (depending on the veggie and what I’m trying to accomplish with the flavors) and seasoned by hand with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
It’s amazing how these simple ingredients can be changed into such decadent brightly colored veggies that you want to eat instead of muted colored, soggy, over salted, drowned veggies just by changing up the cooking style and tasting the food. And this applies to all cooking. Tasting your food is one of the simplest tips to give anyone but it is also the most game changing of them all. Tasting as you cook will help you learn to become a simply sophisticated cook while finding your flavors of life.