my approach to cooking

I tend to improvise when I cook. As much as I’d like to find a good recipe, and just follow it, I really struggle to find something that I’m keen enough to try, and so I often end up trying to think through what ingredients would "go together", and to figure out some method of cooking.

Watching Iron Chef has helped me think about cooking in terms of combinations of textures: though I don’t try and make things that are quiee as outlandish as they make on the show, it’s good to think about what is possible.

The dish shown was an example of something I put together with no recipe. I bought some fish on the way home (about 200g each, following the CSIRO guidelines), and then tried to improvise from there.

I started off heating some olive oil in a frying pan, then adding two finely chopped large brown onions with some garlic, a little bit of ginger, until the onions were soft. It’s worth pointing out at this early stage that you don’t need the stove to be at maximum heat at this point: having the stove on a low or a high heat can make a big difference: if only someone had told me this during my early attempts at stir-fry cooking!

I threw in some bean sprouts as well, to add a bit of flavour to them – I find that I don’t like them much when they’re raw.

With the onions fairly soft, I rinsed a can of white beans (after draining whatever scary liquid was in the can), heated that through, and then put the whole frying pan worth of food into another bowl.

Why? I realised that the other vegetables were more crunchy, and so they’d need more cooking time than I’d allowed for them. I cut up some green beans, and finely sliced some red capsicum and some mushrooms, and cooked them until they seemed to have lost their crunchiness.

With the vegetables under way, I figured it was time to cook the fish. The pieces each consisted of a thicker piece, and a thin piece. I thought I’d try out tumeric to give the fish (ling) some flavour, so I tried on the thin pieces, knowing that they’d cook faster, and if the whole thing was a disaster, I could just eat that, and give whatever I could make pleasant to kel.

I tested a little bit, though, and it seemed fine, so I applied the tumeric to the big pieces of fish too, and left them in the pan to cook (kel doesn’t like fish to be undercooked, so I was watching carefully while the heat from the pan travelled up through the fish).

With the fish almost cooked, I put the onions and other vegetables back in the pan to heat through, and then it was time to serve everything up.

Somehow, it tasted quite good. Why “eye of sauron”? I thought it looked like a lidless eye, and kel is a bit Lord of the Rings fan.

What thought process do you go through when you cook (or am I the only one who makes it up as he goes?)

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  1. You crack me up 🙂

    However, i am impressed by your ‘give it a go’ approach. My cooking is currently limited to BBQ’s and spit roasts, both of which I am awesome at. Unfortunately, I only knock up the occasional stir fry or similar in the kitchen. I would like to take some classes, but cant really find the time.

    Love the name 🙂

  2. We don’t even have a BBQ yet… one day, we’ll get one: especially now that Greek is over for the semester.

    My stir-frying improved a lot once I listened to kel: cut up everything before you start, don’t think that you’ll be able to cut things up once the cooking has begun.

    One day there will be time for all these cooking adventures.

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