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72 votes
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When a recipe asks to add spices to the oil, can you add the spices directly to the sauce for the same effect?

The effect will be different for a few reasons. When you add spices to hot oil, they cook at a considerably higher temperature (up to around 200°C) than in a simmering sauce (100°C as it's ...
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70 votes
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Fry onions and garlic before adding to the sauce?

Sauteing onions: Softens them, most people prefer not to run into raw onions in their sauce. Onions will cook in a sauce, but very slowly, so frying them before makes sure they will be soft even if ...
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64 votes
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How can I get a very thick or viscous paste (e.g. caramel, ganache, thick mayonnaise) into small-necked squeeze bottles without heating it up?

What about a piping bag? Fill the bag with a spatula, pipe into the bottle.
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57 votes
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Why is a roux necessary?

You do not need to make a roux. While your proposed technique of adding flour directly to milk will almost certainly lead to clumps, there are other ways to incorporate flour, butter, and milk: namely,...
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52 votes

Is it safe to add garlic powder to sesame oil?

The concern with garlic in oil leading to botulism is about long-term storage, usually in the context of garlic oil as a 'shelf-stable' condiment; the botulism needs time to grow in the anaerobic ...
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49 votes
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I never succeed in thickening sauces with pasta water. What am I doing wrong?

You seem to have the wrong expectations. No, it will never be as thickening as a cornstarch slurry. If that's the level of thickening you expect, you are really better off using the slurry. Don't ...
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  • 124k
47 votes

What defines cooking wine?

At least in germany "cooking wine" is more a reference to a cheap wine that just does not taste good if drunken (or is of a low percieved quality). For example a cheap lambrusco, which you get if you ...
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  • 461
43 votes

How do restaurants make chicken fried rice? What ingredient am I missing?

For me it isn't fried rice without toasted sesame oil, and the fried rice I have had in restaurants always tastes to me as if it contains toasted sesame oil. Peas are pretty required too. BTW, La Choy ...
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  • 58k
41 votes

What defines cooking wine?

Cooking wine has added salt so it is unpalatable to drink and legal to be sold in a store that doesn't have a liquor license in states requiring that.
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  • 2,241
40 votes

What's a good substitute for basil in pesto sauce?

If we're talking about the big classic pesto alla genovese, then unfortunately... There is no substitute. Basil is the majority ingredient in pesto. None of the other suggestions here will taste even ...
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  • 953
37 votes

Fry onions and garlic before adding to the sauce?

You can find out. Split your sauce into 2 batches. Add onions and garlic raw to one and sautéed to another. Some people like the sharp strong taste of those things raw. In the US that is not ...
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34 votes
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Why should I cook the flour first when making bechamel sauce?

This link explains the science behind what is known as "the mother sauce", béchamel. Essentially, the steps of first creating a roux, then adding cold milk, are about manipulating the glucose chains ...
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34 votes
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What is this sauce-making technique called?

If she was doing this in a pan on the heat (melting the butter, stirring in the flour, then adding milk), this is called making a roux, then a béchamel. If, instead, she kneaded the flour and butter '...
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34 votes
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Ways/techniques to make things "fluffy/foamy" like whipped cream?

There is no single, universal technique for making random food "fluffy". And you may have to live with significant changes in the recipe and in the final results if you try it. Classically, ...
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33 votes
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What's a good substitute for basil in pesto sauce?

The good news is, you can make pesto almost out of any green using the same process and proportions as with basil -- it just changes the flavor profile. I make pesto-style sauces out of chives, ...
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  • 5,956
31 votes
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Does adding water back into an over-reduced sauce lose flavour?

What we perceive as "flavor" often comes from a lot of aromatic and volatile components that we smell. We smell them because they are volatile, which means that they tend to evaporate off food (if ...
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31 votes
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What defines cooking wine?

As my answer is quite long, it was suggested to add a summary up front. Here are the main points along with a little more info. In the US, commercial cooking wines found in the grocery store, usually ...
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31 votes
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How to make thick Asian sauces?

Thickening agents To thicken, you would mix in an agent designed to do so. There are many options, but here are some that are directly applicable to Asian cooking: Corn starch - Works well in small ...
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28 votes

Why do you shred cheese before adding it to a sauce?

You're right that the smaller pieces of cheese will melt faster than a whole block when added to a sauce. The main advantage to shredding or grating cheese is that you create smaller pieces of ...
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  • 8,282
28 votes

What to do with 10 liters Heinz BBQ sauce?

'Expiration' dates on anything that's not baby formula aren't. They're 'best used by' or 'sell by', but many restaurants will get rid of it for liability issues. Although it should be good for many ...
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  • 75.3k
28 votes

How can I remove whole peppercorns from a sauce after cooking?

Strain it, or put the peppercorns in cheesecloth which you can easily remove. Obviously both ideas would work better if the sauce was thin then thickened after the peppercorns were removed.
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  • 2,623
25 votes

How do I concentrate the flavor in orange juice?

How about using orange zest instead of the juice? That way you'll get a lot of the aroma and flavor we think of as "orange" without really changing the sweetness or acidity.
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24 votes

How to make thick Asian sauces?

Many such sauces include a thickening starch, like corn starch. This can either be mixed with some of the cold liquid and stirred into the hot, or used to coat ingredients prior to adding liquid (with ...
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  • 38.3k
24 votes

Canning tomato sauce for the refrigerator

As you state, you have not followed any canning procedures, so you don't get any more storage time than the standard recommendation. Glass vs plastic doesn't matter. So, I would just recommend ...
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20 votes
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How do I know when my sauce is reduced enough?

The whole thing should've been done with the lid off. Any time you're reducing a sauce, you want the steam (moisture) to escape. As for 'how thick', the standard test is 'coats the back of a spoon'. ...
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  • 75.3k
20 votes

When a recipe asks to add spices to the oil, can you add the spices directly to the sauce for the same effect?

As other answers have noted, stirring spices into the nearly-finished dish will give a different taste because frying something in oil is physically and chemically very different from boiling it in ...
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20 votes
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How can I remove whole peppercorns from a sauce after cooking?

One way to steep peppercorns in a sauce is to put them in a tea ball or a tied up piece of cloth which is submerged into the sauce and then removed before serving. If they are just dropped into the ...
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19 votes
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Key ingredients for classic Sauce Bolognese (Ragù Bolognese)?

Italy is very protective of its food heritage and there are many examples of recipes being officially codified by various authorities, e.g, the EU designation, Traditional Speciality Guaranteed, was ...
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  • 3,226
19 votes

How close are store bought broths and stocks to the real thing?

There's a great deal of variation in the quality of the pre-made stocks you get from different sources, so there's no clear-cut answer. Here's the types you might find: Stock cubes: these are ...
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  • 66.5k
19 votes

Fry onions and garlic before adding to the sauce?

You can also use ‘layering’, particularly with the garlic. Garlic fried in oil at the beginning of the process contributes rich, mellow, savory flavors, but a little finely minced or shaved garlic ...
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