Apart from the company, one of the reasons we love to dine out is those mouth-watering tastes and clever flavour combinations that make our taste-buds hum. Eating out can be a real feast of the senses.
Fear not foodies! We can create restaurant quality meals at home with a few simple hacks. Use this extra time to move away from your standard mid-week stir-fry and create meals that are a pleasure to prepare and eat.
We have 7 tips to help get you cooking like a pro.
1. Quality Ingredients
Good food comes from good ingredients. Even a simple salad can have a wow factor with a sprinkling of toasted pinenuts or strips of grilled haloumi. Source local fresh ingredients – particularly fruit and veggies - as often as you can. When it comes to meat and fish – spend your money on a smaller amount of a quality cut than a larger amount of a cheaper alternative.
2. Become friends with your herbs & spices
Spices and herbs give your dishes an international flair and unique essence. Dried herbs don't come close to matching the same earthy flavours as freshly picked. You don’t need a lot of space for a herb garden and it’s actually cheaper buying and planting fresh herbs in your garden than purchasing them from the supermarket. Plus, once planted, you’ll have an endless supply at your fingertips!
And what about spices? Take this opportunity to clean out your cabinet of spices. That jar of turmeric that’s been in your cabinet for the last 5 years is past it’s prime, lacking that flavour burst you need to create restaurant quality food at home. If you’re not sure, do a smell test, and if it doesn't have a strong scent, toss it. If you know you haven't used it in two years…? Toss it. When restocking your spice cabinet, consider how often you use each one and look for smaller bottles of the ones you don't use much.
Besides beautiful bold flavours, herbs and spices have health benefits too. They contain antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, plus spices naturally rev up your metabolism. Did herbs and spices just reach 'best friend' status?
3. Get the right equipment
Every at-home chef should have quality kitchen equipment that is a joy to work with. You don’t need to buy all top-of-the-line equipment, but there are a few things you should splurge on. Invest in a great non-stick fry pan then look after it to preserve the surface of the pan. Buy the best knives you can afford and keep them sharp, so slicing tomatoes, bread or meat is easy. A quality knife should last a lifetime.
4. Keep cooking to a minimum
Try for super-tasty dishes with loads of plate-appeal over complex recipes that keep you in the kitchen for hours. Fish, including salmon, can be prepared simply with a quick pan-fry or wrapped in tinfoil and popped into the oven for 15 minutes. Feel like getting outside? Crank the BBQ up to a medium heat (not too hot!), and either grill your fish with a little oil, or cook wrapped in tinfoil with the hood down. It goes without saying, adding herbs for that restaurant quality taste will raise your meal up to chef standard. Parsley, basil, rosemary and dill are our favourite herbs to pair with salmon.
5. Take time to prepare
We all have a bit more time on our hands now. One bonus that professional chefs have is the ability to spend time creating the different components that make an amazing dish. Take this time to get creative and try new things, that includes making a sauce or broth from scratch. Use that extra hour in the morning, think ahead and whip together a marinade. By the time you get cooking the flavours will be well-infused, tempting even the toughest critic in the family. Think salmon ceviche, tandoori chicken, or a delicious sticky-rib sauce.
6. Presentation is everything
Remember - we eat with our eyes! And it’s not just about presenting the meal nicely on the plate or platter. There are other little things you can do that go a long way. Warm the plates if you need to stop the food from going cold too quickly. Keep a few pots of fresh herbs on the window-sill to add a garnish. Add a swirl of olive oil and wipe any drips from the rim of the plate.
7. A chef's best kept secret: cook salmon!
Many people will order salmon at a restaurant but are nervous of cooking at home. The good news is that the high oil content of Regal Marlborough King Salmon actually means it’s difficult to overcook and ruin. And the rich, delicious flavour means minimal prep is needed to impress.
Our Regal Oven Ready Salmon comes with a delicious chef approved glaze, all you need to do is drizzle it over the fresh salmon fillets and pop in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve with a fresh salad, or some lightly steamed greens and rice.
Most importantly, turn off the TV and call everyone to the table to sing your praises, because now you’re cooking like a level 4 chef.