Cooking Food

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People all over the world eat cooked food, but people in different countries cook their food differently. Most people in this country like to eat meat, fish and vegetables cooked, but there are some people who like to eat raw fish. With the expectation of some vegetables and fruits, most of the food eaten is cooked to a greater or lesser degree. The reasons for cooking food are:-

1. To soften the food so that it can be more easily digested.
2. To improve the flavor of food. The flavor of the meat and fish is greatly improved by cooking.
3. To improve the appearance of food, as uncooked meat or fish is objectionable to some people.
4. To kill germs so that the food is safe to eat.
5. To vary the flavor of the food. Different methods of cooking and the addition of different ingredients and flavoring give a wide variety of flavors to food.

There are many methods of cooking food as below:-

Food is cooked in boiling liquid tell tender. Vegetables should be put into boiling water and boiled quickly, while meat should be put into cold water and brought up to the boil when making soup, or put into boiling water for stews. When boiling meat, the temperature is lowered to simmering point as soon as the water boils, otherwise the protein in meat will harden and will be difficult to digest. Fish is put into boiling water and simmered till cooked. If it is allowed to boil all the time the fish will break up. Boiling food to cook it partly is called parboiling. Slow boiling so that the liquid bubbles slowly all the times and only a little steam is given off is called simmering.

This is long, slow cooking in a little liquid. This is a good method of cooking, as cheaper and tougher pieces of meat can be cooked with other ingredients to make them and better flavored. Stewing should be done in a pan with a lid, as foods become tender more easily in a closed pan where the steam cannot escape too easily. It is also an easy method of cooking as very little attention is required when the food is slowly stewing.

Food is cooked in steam from boiling water. Only tender bits of food should be steamed. It is a slow method of cooking but it makes food easy to digest. Delicately flavored foods are best steamed as no flavor is lost during cooking, so the food retains all its own flavor. Steaming can be done by the following methods:-

1. In a steamer which sits over a saucepan of boiling water. Steam rises from the boiling water and passes through the steamer to cook the food.
2. In a frying pan of boiling water. The food is put in a steaming tray which rests on a stand in the frying pan. A well fitting lid covers the tray and steam from boiling water cooks the food. This method is faster than the first method.

3. In saucepan with a tight fitting lid.
a) Food is placed in a bowl or basin which stands in a saucepan of boiling water that comes up to half way up the side of the bowl, or placed on rice which is about to cook.
b) Food is placed on a plate and is covered with the saucepan lid. The plate is placed on top of the saucepan which is half filled with boiling water.

This is a very quick method of cooking and is the most popular method of cooking in this country. There are three methods of frying:-

1. Dry frying where no oil is used at all as in frying peanuts or coconuts. The food is put into a clean, dry frying pan and is stirred over a slow fire until the food is evenly browned and cooked.
2. Shallow fat frying where a little oil is used to prevent the food from sticking to the frying pan, as in frying eggs, pancakes or vegetables. When vegetables are fried, they are tossed in a little fat which is absorbed by the vegetables. This method of cooking vegetables is also called sauteing.
3. Deep fat frying where food is cooked in at least 2″ of hot oil. There must be enough oil to completely cover the food when the food is first put in. This method of frying is used for curry puffs, fry chicken and many other dishes.

This is cooking food directly over hot charcoal or under the electric or gas grill, as in cooking barbecue chicken or making toast. This is a very quick method of cooking and only very tender pieces of good should be cooked by this method.

This is to cook food in the heat of an oven as in baking cakes, pastries, biscuits and bread. The hot oven heats up the air inside it and food is cooked by the hot air. Care must be taken to cook the food thoroughly without burning it.

This actually means cooking over the open fire, but with the introduction of the oven, it has now become very much like baking, except that fat is added to prevent the food from drying and burning and also to improve the flavor.


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