25 of Anthony Bourdain's Best Cooking/Life Tips
25 Best Cooking & Life Tips from Anthony Bourdain
gathered and written by Jennifer Stitt
We have compiled a list of cooking tips and philosophies by Anthony Bourdain to help you become the best cook you can.
When making the perfect burger, one of the things that should be considered first and above all is the meat going into the patty. It should be made from top quality beef in order to taste the best.
A burger is also only as good as the cheese that covers it. The chosen cheese should be soft and easy to melt for the best consistency to be achieved.
Finally, the house of the burger, the bun it sits on, needs to be considered, too. It should be soft but one that will not end up soggy. Potato buns are often a great choice for these very reasons.
Anthony believes there is a special essence to eating food. Some cultures, such as Italians, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese, also share this viewpoint that food should not be seen as something to bragged about. Instead, he says it should be seen “as something else that gives pleasure, like sex or music, or a good nap in the afternoon.” It should not be taken for granted, and it should be enjoyed as much as possible.
He also believes there is an essential method to preparing for a dinner date, so it can be enjoyed the most. He claims that he goes all out when the meal comes because he believes it should be enjoyed thoroughly, mostly because he wants to enjoy the person he is spending time with. He says, “I choose this meal and this order, and I choose you, the person across from me, to share it with. There's a beautiful intimacy in a meal like that.”
At the same time, he believes something else by extension of his methodology on dinner dates. He claims that, “You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.” Not only do you learn a lot about their tastes in food, but you have the chance to learn people’s mannerisms. Most importantly, discussions that occur over a meal tend to be the most revealing about people in our culture. Coming to the dinner table has always been a corner stone for which conversations, deep and meaningful ones, take place.
As an extension of the previous thought on eating a meal with people, Anthony believes there is an important key to feeding people, too. He says, “ . . . it's a noble craft and a noble calling, 'cause you're doing something useful - you're feeding people, you're nurturing them, you're providing sustenance . . . ” In other words, to cook something for someone means you are giving them a gift from your heart, thus showing how much you care about them.
The most important thing to learn in cooking, first and foremost, is acquiring knife skills. Many teachers claim this should be done with an onion first because of its strength and the low cost. As far as knife skills go, Anthony believes a cook is nothing without them because it means not being able to accomplish anything in the kitchen. Having knife skills includes knowing how to handle the knife for different types of cuts and knowing how to take care of a knife in the best ways possible.
Anthony also believes there is a key in learning how to make the perfect omelet. While it is a simple dish, many things can be done to make it taste different each time it is made. It also teaches a lot of skills with the knife because of cutting up ingredients. Furthermore, it teaches the importance of the egg as the cornerstone of cooking because it is used as an ingredient in so many dishes.
People who want to know the basics of cooking need to understand how to roast a piece of meat without having to cut into it or without having to use a food thermometer. This technique teaches patience with food.
Likewise, people should know their way around the grill. Not only is this alternative a healthy one to other cooking methods, it opens up the world of cooking to a whole new variety of food options and pairings.
Cooking vegetables can be difficult. Whether it’s grilling, boiling, or stir-frying, a cook needs to be careful with vegetables. Anthony suggests going on the cautious side because by time a vegetable seems to be done to the untrained eye it is often overcooked.
Knowing where to shop for the best produce options is key to understand the basics of making good food. Basic skills in this area should be able to determine when something is in season and whether or not it is ripe or rotten.
Understanding how to make a good salad dressing, sauce, or dip means potentially saving a dish that does not otherwise seem like it goes together. Sometimes, simplicity is better in this department because the dressing accents the food instead of takes it over.
One key to survival is knowing how to fillet a fish. If you do not know how, then find a reliable fish monger to teach you how to do so, or simply pay them to do it for you.
As an added bonus, it would be a good idea to learn how to recognize a fresh fish. Well, the same can go for any type of meat, really. Fresh is best.
As with other types of seafood, knowing how to steam a lobster or a crab can mean having a change to really showing off your skills. Again, fresh is key here. Do not buy seafood that looks too dead when you buy it. As far as lobsters and crabs go, they should be rather lively indeed before they are brought to the steamer.
Making mashed potatoes is something many people struggle with. Avoid going for the box method. Learning to peel potatoes teaches knife skills, and learning to roast them teaches patience. Also, this dish teaches that simplicity in flavor is the key to a successful side dish.
When dealing with meat of any kind, it’s a good thing to know what to do with the leftovers that are trimmed off and cannot be eaten. Mostly, the bones are the focus here. These ingredients may seem disgusting, but when paired with some water and light seasonings in a pot of water, they can make an awesome stock that can be used as the basis of many dishes.
According to Anthony, people commit steak murder on a frequent basis. This meat is not mean to be overly handled. It needs to be touched as little as possible in the cooking process.
The best way to serve a steak is actually medium rare. This method allows for the best tasting juices to be used.
Remember, steaks need time to rest. Therefore, pulling a steak shortly before it is done allows it to carry over cook to the perfect grade of doneness while it rests a moment. Allowing a steak to rest also means allowing a chance for the juices to settle into the meat again. Once more, no touching!
Anthony believes stews are a perfect dish to learn how to master at an early stage in your cooking experiences. It requires knowing how to make stock, how to handle meat, and knife skills with vegetables and how to cook them.
First, be sure to precook the meat so it has enough time to be thoroughly cooked through by the time the dish is finished.
If grease and oils build up on top of the stew, do not try to mix all of them back in. Skim them off the top. Mixing some back in can be helpful, but the fat mostly is not useable.
- Darren Clunie