Your local Asia shop might seem intimidating, but there are many bargains to be found. Certain articles are of much higher quality and much lower price than our western supermarkets. Off the top of my head these are:
The only issue is that sometimes the quantities are geared for ‘we cook this every day’ rather than the ‘I fancy something Thai tonight’. In particular, I only ever need one or two teaspoons of fresh chilies at any one time, and the smallest quantity you can buy is something like a handful.
So here’s the secret: Wash your chilies, deseed them and chop them into small cubes, fill in ice cube holder. Tip: I use latex gloves because that chilli oil stays a long time on fingers, even after washing with soap, and I always end up rubbing my eyes…
After that you have some perfectly portioned chilli-cubes
I lucked out with the ice-cube holder, it makes small cubes and it’s about a single chilli per portion…
Have you noticed that the eggs in markets are not refrigerated? Freshly laid eggs will keep up to three weeks out of a fridge and still be completely fresh.
If you put them in the fridge, the three weeks get extended to five weeks, but since we have a regular consumption, our eggs are never more than two weeks old.
What’s the point? The main point is that there are many occasions where you need room-temperature eggs, particularly if you are making emulsions such as mayonnaise and sauce hollandaise, where the egg temperature is critical to the success of the recipe. Plus it frees space in the fridge.
And those horrible egg-holder-plastic thingies just annoy me.
the biggest breeding place for bacteria are kitchen sponges. It turns out that the absolute best way to clean your sponges is to microwave wet sponges for two minutes, or to put them in your dishwasher.
I put mine in the dishwasher weekly. My wife hates it, because they come out gorged with soapy water, but not a single microorganism survives the 55° of the dishwasher, so it’s actually very safe, if disgusting.
Here’s the link to the supporting study done by real microbiologists:
Microwave, dishwasher best for cleaning sponges
These two methods are fool-proof and FAR better than cleaning, bleach, or lemon juice.
If there is a single bit of kit that can dramatically decrease cooking times, it’s a large freezer.
Having the capacity to store for long periods batches of food you make should at least halve your total preparation time. It generally does not add a lot more to cooking times to double the quantities, so, just always cook twice the amout of stuff, and, bingo, you’ve just halved your total preparation time.
Things I prepare in huge batches and freeze:
- Tomato sauce (for pasta)
- Pesto Sauce
- Kräuterbutter (herb butter)
- Gulash (done in a large crockpot)
- Vegetable Soup
Note that you should try to keep the small freezer in your fridge as empty as possible, because then it’s really useful. If it’s crammed, it’s useless.