The 12 Most Unnecessary Cooking Steps, According To Chefs
Cooking can seem really intimidating to many people for a lot of reasons: doing it wrong can lead to gross food (not ideal), some sort of weird kitchen injury (ouch!), or even someone getting sick if it’s not cooked properly (this is basically a nightmare scenario). On top of that, if you follow food bloggers or chefs on Instagram, watch competitive cooking shows like Top Chef, and pay attention to all of the “cooking rules” that seem to be out there, spending time making your own food can seem really, really hard. This is because a lot of those chefs and bloggers are using really fancy cooking methods that seem impossible to recreate… and they might not even need to do that.
According to chefs, there are some unnecessary cooking steps out there you can feel free to ignore.
There are things some do that seem to be more for appearance and less for the actual taste and quality of the food. While you may want to follow these steps if you’re a professional working in a high-end restaurant for people who want aesthetically pleasing food, you don’t need to worry about them when you’re cooking in the comfort of your own home. If you want to create a plate that looks like artwork, then by all means, follow these!
But if you’re just trying to put dinner on the table, you’re good.
Here are some of the most unnecessary cooking steps out there, according to chefs on Reddit:
1. Garnishing is a waste of time.
If you’re washing and cutting herbs just to put them on top of a dish, you may want to reconsider that.
Reddit user codymurp said, “Garnishing with f***ing micro greens that you have to clean and f***ing pick the seeds out of” is a waste of time. He added, “It takes forever and most people just take them off anyway.” User livytheolivee added, “It’s just so extra and wasteful… It just gets picked off or stirred in, and it doesn’t even really add that much needed flavor to the dish.”
2. Peeling carrots and potatoes isn’t necessary.
You probably spend a good amount of time peeling your potatoes and carrots before cooking them, but it might not be something you need to do. User Gyvon said, “Give them a good wash and they’re fine. Hell, potato skins improve mashed potatoes, in my opinion.” User Goobersita agreed, saying, “I never realized how much better cooked carrots taste with the skin. Gives them actual texture and a bit of a different taste.”
3. Leaving the tails on the shrimp isn’t doing anything for your dish.
Only buying shrimp with tails? You’re better off without them.
User coconut-telegraph said, “In stir fries, curries, etc., now I have to get in there and remove something it was actually easier to just take off with the rest of the shell. Why leave these choking hazards in an otherwise entirely edible meal to be discreetly stashed at the side of a plate or in a napkin?”
4. Sifting the flour probably isn’t needed.
Some baking recipes tell you to sift flours, which is an extra step and can be super messy. But user ihatepeasoup says you probably don’t need to: “I never noticed any difference in consistency when I don’t sift it.”
5. Making your own stock is usually too time-consuming to be worth it.
You’ll notice that some recipes call for homemade stock, which can be pretty annoying to make. User IT_Chef says it’s usually not worth it, saying, “Boxed stock or even a base will work just fine.” They explained, “If the stock is going to be the star, or a major flavor component of the dish, soup as a soup, demi, reduction, etc., then yeah, fresh-made stock is key here. If the stock is going to be treated as an ingredient, then have at it with boxed stock/base. You will likely not notice the difference in taste.”
6. Adding edible gold to food is totally unnecessary.
It might look pretty, but edible gold is certainly not something you need in your kitchen. User TheBassMesiter said, “It does not affect the taste and has zero nutritional value, as it will just pass through your digestive system without being absorbed.”
7. Turning the meat before it’s done is for aesthetics only.
Want your meat to look pretty? Then turn it. But if you only care about the taste, turning it does nothing. User CrunchyNutMan said, “It gives the meat beautiful cross hatched grill marks but does nothing for the quality of the meat.”
8. Adding parsley to anything is pretty much useless.
Parsley as a garnish is used all the time, but it’s rarely necessary. User tanzaniteflame summed it up by saying, “put it on anything, and suddenly you’re fancy.” User phonz1851 added, “I like parsley, but it can [be] super over-powering if over-used.”
9. Getting fancy with the plating is only for a good photo opp.
If you want a gorgeous plate ready to be photographed, then by all means, plate away.
But if your only concern is taste, forget this annoying step.
User MrMagooLostHisShoe explained, “High-end restaurants take great pains to make sure meals are plated well and look appealing from a purely aesthetic standpoint. When cooking at home, I generally don’t put as much effort into the ‘plate appeal.'”
10. Using truffle oil is rarely needed in a dish.
User JuicyHashBrowns said, “I feel the vast majority of the time it’s added only so that the dish sounds more sophisticated.”
Plus, truffle oil is very different than real truffles.
User end_amd_abuse explained, “Truffles are amazing things with a really complicated earthy flavor… Truffle oil tastes nothing like truffles and don’t even contain truffles most of the time. Worst part is they are expensive anyways. Complete bs and a waste of money. I wouldn’t even put it on my food if I was given a bottle for free.”
11. Separating all of your ingredients before you cook probably isn’t as helpful as you think.
There’s something satisfying about separating all of your ingredients into their own little prep bowls before you cook (which is called mise en place), but a lot of the time, it’s just using more of your time.
User port3rpotty said it’s not necessary, although there was a debate about it in the thread.
User TeamFatChance said, “I think what separates the pro cook from the experienced amateur is time efficiency and effectiveness. If that means having the mise done before you start because you’re in a working kitchen and won’t have the time to do it later, so be it. That is a necessity on a line. At home, though, where I’m making just the one meal, that can be a waste of time and the tip off that you’re new at this (but have probably read a book).” Basically, it’s only useful sometimes.
12. Cutting the stems off herbs isn’t something you need to do.
Taking your time to snip the ends off your herbs is for aesthetics only. User BorderColliesRule said, “Separating that last 2-5 mm from the leaf to the stalk is not important and generally speaking, it’s both tender and packed with flavor.”
Maybe skipping these will save you a lot of time and aggravation the next time you’re cooking!
Definitely keep them in mind.