I’ve been working on a column this week about chefs’ secrets, but that doesn’t thoroughly explain the point of the exercise. Chefs have a lot of secrets; what I’m interested in is how they use normal ingredients in unusual ways.
For example, I have heard from chefs who use cornflakes to bread fish or pixie sticks to color meringues.
Of course, chefs aren’t the only ones who use typical ingredients in surprising ways. Home cooks might use grape jelly in a meatball sauce, for example, or salt on truffles, or cocoa powder in steak rub.
I’m no expert chef, but when I scoured my brain for an example from my own kitchen, I thought about a ramen noodle dish I make sometimes when I’m in a big hurry. I cook the noodles in low-sodium chicken broth, then add some fresh spinach, a handful of shrimp, some soy sauce, fish sauce, hot sauce and lime juice for a Thai-inspired supper in a flash. I’ve tossed chunks of frozen tilapia in there instead of shrimp before. I have also been known to pour some beer in the pan when I’m sauteeing cabbage or greens.
Stay tuned for some far better examples of chefs’ secrets in next week’s paper. And if you have a secret ingredient that you like to use in a creative way, I would LOVE to include it in next week’s column. Any chefs out there who have not heard from me? Please feel free to give me a call at (540) 981-3343, email me at email@example.com or comment on this blog entry.