Recently, consultants of KSearch had the good fortune of being tutored by one of the sought after executive chefs in Manila, Chef Carlo Santiago of the Bayleaf Hotel, Intramuros. Despite his tight schedule, Chef Carlo gladly shared with us the different methods of cooking and how we can use them in our daily practical lives.
Chef Carlo quickly established the three key guidelines he wanted us to keep in mind. These objectives should guide us whether we aspire to produce the fanciest lamb chop we love or the “Adobo” dish that has always been part of our dining experience.
First guideline was that “We should understand and accept the different cooking methods. These are universal and non-negotiable. Efficiency in cooking should also be on top of our minds.”This only means that even the best Chefs in the world does no longer question such cooking methods as Braising, Simmering, Poaching among others.
Second guideline was “Always plan ahead before buying the ingredients so that time and money would not be wasted.” Chef Carlo reiterated that cooking should be fun. It should not be something that would stress us out. It should be an activity that is enjoyed and not rushed. It should be an activity that would bring out the creative side in us.
And the third was for us to “Use the effective and most appropriate cooking method to produce the intended result.” Cooking is thinking. You just don’t cook just to cook. You cook a dish because you have a purpose in mind. It could be for experimental purposes or to impress your significant other. When you have this goal in mind, you would strive to do your best to make the best dish that you can.
One of the things that I realized from Chef Carlo’s talk is that cooking is science, as in Chemistry. The different cooking methods cause a series of chemical reactions that would change the molecular structure of food. Each cooking method will have a different end result. That is why we can actually use a number of cooking methods for one dish.
Another interesting point he mentioned was about the two categories of cooking. These are the Dry and Moist Heat Cooking.
'Moist heat cooking' is cooking done to the food product using water or water-based liquids such as stock and sauces, or by steam. Well-known cooking methods under this category is boiling, simmering, poaching, blanching and steaming. On the other hand, 'Dry heat cooking' is done either by hot air, hot metal, radiation, or hot fat. There are two methods used in this: cooking with fat and without fat.
Cooking without fat involves grilling, broiling, roasting and baking. Our beloved burgers, fried chicken, french fries are cooked with fat. It could be done through griddling, sautéing, pan frying, deep frying, stir frying and using the microwave.
Aside from that, he also gave us tips on how to cook some known Filipino dishes. For Caldereta, first marinate the beef belly in soy sauce, calamansi, garlic, bayleaf and peppercorn. The longer the meat is marinated, the more flavorful it will be. Then, simmer the beef in water with vinegar to tenderize it. While it simmers, make the sauce by cooking tomato sauce, liver spread, peanut butter, soy sauce and olives. Braise the beef in the sauce afterwards and for final touches, sauté garlic and chili and add it to the dish. Voila! You have your delicious Caldereta.
Overall, it was a session loaded with new information. It was not just about cooking but it was also about one’s lifestyle. One important lesson that we’ve learned is that, we can come up with a number of dishes but the most important factor is the judgment of the cook. As quoted, “A cook’s judgment is based on his understanding of the raw material and knowledge of basic cooking principles”.
Karla Dawn Fuentes