So, you think you cook so well that cooking disasters will not happen while you are in charge of the kitchen? Think again. Whether you are a trained chef or a home cook, you will be prone to cooking disasters. And it is a good idea to be prepared to do what needs to be done in a kitchen rescue mission.
You could have miscalculated and instead of using one teaspoon of salt, you used a tablespoon of it. You could have added way too much of curry, have forgotten an ingredient while cooking, or miscalculated the cooking time and burned the bottom of the pot.
Fear not, Here are a few tips to help you try to fix kitchen blunders.
Too salty. This is one of the most common cooking disasters known to happen. Depending on the dish being cooked, you can add sliced potatoes to the dish to soak up the saltiness or you can add more water and other ingredients to whatever it is you are cooking. Remove the sliced potatoes before serving. If there is an alternative dish to cook, do so and you can just divide the cooked food in equal portions and use it as a base for your next meal. Just add more ingredients to cut the saltiness.
Too spicy. Not everyone can appreciate spicy food and this is going to be unappreciated by sensitive palettes. Add sugar, if you must, to adjust the spiciness. Depending upon the dish, you can also add crushed pineapples or dairy products like cream or yogurt.
Overcooked vegetables. No one wants to eat soggy and limp-looking vegetable dishes. If you will be serving these too soon, serve right away. Otherwise, it is best to blanch for two minutes and immerse in ice-water. Quickly re-heat before serving. If there is no way to save the overcooked vegetables, just add meat or vegetable stock and puree to make vegetable soup. For green leafy vegetables, add this towards the end of the cooking process and turn off the heat.
Too sweet. A few drops of lemon juice will cut the sweetness of a sauce. If you don’t have lemon, a dash of vinegar will do.
Burned rice. It is usually the bottom of the pot that gets burned so it is best to not scrape this at all. If the rice on top is still good to eat, carefully scoop these out and transfer to a serving dish without touching the burnt part. You can also add sliced bread on top to have the burnt smell absorbed by it.
Undercooked rice due to insufficient water. Soak two or three sheets of paper towel in water. Put these on top of the rice and sprinkle the towels with about a tablespoon of salt. Cover the rice pot, turn the heat to low, and let cook a few minutes until the rice is done. Sprinkle more water as needed.
Too much curry. Add a bit of honey if the dish has too much curry in it.
Unevenly cooked meat. Sometimes meat is cooked outside but inside it’s still rare or raw. Thaw the meat inside the refrigerator before cooking to take the chill off.
Poached egg looks bombed. Add 3-4 tablespoons of white vinegar to the water where you will immerse the eggs to be poached.
Gravy or sauce separation. It can happen that the fat and solids in your gravy separates while cooking, get a little of the gravy out of the pan, put this in a smaller pan and whisk in a small amount of flour before putting back in the pan. You can also add a little water carefully to enable the sauce to emulsify.
Burnt gravy or sauce. Pour the gravy or sauce in another pan and add sugar to it in small amounts to take the burnt flavour away.
Lumpy gravy. Just pass the lumpy gravy through a sieve to get a smoother consistency.
Burnt pan bottom. Do not stir the food if the bottom has been burned. Get the pan and put in a shallow container with water to prevent the heat from burning the food more. Transfer the unburnt food in another container taking care to avoid the seared portions. Continue cooking and add a little liquid. Add spices or other sauces to disguise the burnt smell.
Cracked boiled egg with the egg whites spilling out. Add a few drops of vinegar in the water you will use to boil the eggs to avoid the eggs from getting cracked.
Burned or unevenly fried bacon. Bake the bacon to have a consistent and even cooking. You can also use an oven rack and catch the bacon drippings for sauces.
Soggy salad. If you are serving the salad greens immediately, you can add the salad dressing. If not, hold the dressing till serving time.
One important tip: Taste as you go along. There are recipes that need to be adjusted according to health requirements or palate considerations so it is best to have a taste of the food while this is still in the process of being cooked. Use a separate spoon and not the cooking utensil to taste the food being cooked.
The following are a few substitutions just in case you ran out of ingredients in the middle of cooking.
No buttermilk? You can use yogurt. You can also just add lemon juice to regular milk and let stand for about 10 minutes before you use. If you have no lemon juice, add one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to one cup of milk and let it sit until the mixture separates.
No butter? Try reduced-fat cream cheese if you ran out of butter. For cakes, Greek yogurt will do because it has a thicker consistency. For every cup of butter required, you can use ½ cup of Greek yogurt.
No eggs? You can use one ripe mashed banana for every whole egg ingredient needed in a recipe. One tablespoon of applesauce can also substitute for one egg in baking.
No condensed milk? Try using canned coconut milk.
No mayonnaise? Try avocado. Avocado has no taste and it will feel like you have mayonnaise in your sandwich, only better and more nutritious. You can also use mashed avocado as butter substitute on your toast.
No-meat burger patties? For no-meat or less meat burger patties, you can use red beans, mushrooms, onions, even oatmeal and tomato paste for the same meaty texture only with better and nutrient-dense substitutes.
Dry spices instead of bottled sauces. Bottled sauces are high in sugar and sodium contents. Swap these with dry spices to add more flavor to your dish.
Every cook has experienced cooking disasters. Cooking emergency situations are bound to happen no matter how careful cooks can be. The important thing is to know what needs to be done to save the food being cooked and to enjoy the cooking experiences.