20 Most Common Cooking Mistakes, As Shared By Folks Online
If you’ve ever struggled with cooking a dish, this post might just be right for you. Cooking is an art that needs time and patience to yield good results. You cannot become a chef in a day! However, there are people who are willing to share their cooking mistakes so that others can learn from them.
When a Reddit user asked, “What is something that a lot of people typically make wrong or badly?” and people started sharing tips and tricks for different types of foods. Scroll below to read some of the wisdom they shared.
More info: Reddit
Most people lack the courage to make it from scratch and instant gravy is just awful and lacking most of what makes a gravy good.”
“Risotto. Everyone always serves it too tight/stiff/dry. Loosen it up with some more stock before serving so it is like rice coated in a thick emulsified sauce and settles flat on the plate. It’s so often instead served as a standing mound of too-dry greasy rice because the moisture content got too low and the emulsion broke.”
“As someone who grew up near New Orleans…
Proper gumbo has its roots in displaced Acadian and slave food. If you try to get fancy with it, you’ll ruin it. Gumbo (like most prized dishes today) was invented to make protein stretch. It’s how you get one chicken to serve 20 people.
Make a roux. Toss in trinity (and okra). Pour in stock, and put your protein in there. Let it slow cook for a few hours. Serve over rice.
That’s pretty much it. Season to taste, but don’t go crazy. I simply salt mine and let it be.
I’ve seen gumbo recipes with 50 ingredients (cough Emeril cough). That’s not gumbo.”
“Salmon, every salmon I’ve had at someone’s home has been cooked to oblivion and is dry and stringy.”
“Not people, but companies over roast their espresso beans. It’s supposed to be light to medium roast, and multi-origin, because espresso can extract the complex flavour. Meanwhile every single espresso roast I’ve seem has been basically charred. Yes, espresso is dark and strong, but it’s the method of brewing the coffee that’s supposed to do that, and not the coffee beans.”
“Apparently a lot of people struggle to make rice.”
“Meatloaf has an incredible upper ceiling but I feel like it’s primarily associated with people who are bad at cooking. It can be so rich and tender and silky and complex. To most people though it’s just depression-era food, or a weeknight staple akin to mom’s famous boiled brussel sprouts. You can make it so juicy and packed with flavor but the world is sadly filled with dry drab bland meatloafs.
EDIT: Folks try adding some gochujang to your brown sugar ketchup glaze.”
“Scrambled eggs. Most people/breakfast places in my experience cook them quickly in a hot pan, leaving you with big chunks of overcooked egg that taste nasty. You gotta do it low and slow while stirring constantly, with lots of butter and no milk.”
For green ones, first of all you have the people who don’t cook them enough on first fry. It’s the same concept as French fries. You are cooking through on the first fry and crisping on the second. If you do not let them cook enough they will break when smashed and come out greasy. The second thing is people smash them too much and they’re too thin. You want them thick enough that you have a fluffy interior to contrast the crisp exterior.
And now for sweet plantains, which are almost more egregious. One, plantains are often not ripe enough. They need to be streaked with black rather than bright yellow. Two, they’re cut into these huge hunks that give you tons of mushy innards that don’t get any exposure. The best fried plantains are made with thinly sliced planks about 1/4 inch thick. These have tons of surface area which caramelizes and you get these really crispy caramelized sugar edges. Three, they need to be cooked at moderate heat so that the sugar really caramelizes. Too high and they brown without that happening. Four, you need to go fairly dark to really take advantage of caramelization. Not burnt, but a slight bitterness gives complexity. Five, you don’t need a lot of oil to do this. Shallow fry is best! You could deep fry, but they’re fragile and would likely stick to each other tossed in oil.
Restaurants deep fry in a fryer where other items are fried. The heat is too high, they brown quickly, and often they’re not cooked on the inside since they’re thick hunks.
Lots of Latin restaurants serve terrible fried plantains. Pio Pio for example serves absolutely awful ones.
Bad homemade tostones tend to suffer from the sin of not cooking enough on first fry.”
“Browning meat. Most people over crowd the pan and grey the meat by boiling it in the meat water. The pink disappears and they think it’s done.
It’s cooked, but you get much more flavor from browning it. You can add less meat to the pan or wait for the water to boil off and the leftover fat will brown it.”
“New York bagels. People look for instructions online, which are either way off (most common), or they’re in the ballpark but fail to emphasize the key points of how they’re really made.”
“Mushrooms. Just plain old, white-button mushrooms.
A few years ago someone posted a video, maybe here, maybe in another sub, that opened my eyes. Cook them until all the liquid is boiled away (takes about 10 minutes if they’re sliced) *then* add seasoning.
Even people who say they hate mushrooms love them cooked this way, because they taste like whatever you season them with and have a firm, chewy consistency.”
“Margaritas. F**k any margarita that doesn’t use fresh limes.”
“Grilling and serving a steak. Do not constantly flip it or rotate it. Make sure you have a solid heat source and place on the grill. Only rotate it once for diamond marks and flip only once. Every time I see someone noodle around with a steak on a grill I die inside. Also, you have to let it rest unless you want a juice soup on the plate.”
“Apparently pork. Discovered last christmas that the minimum cooking temp that has been advised for a long time is actually wrong and results in dry, leathery meat. Had someone mention that wasn’t needed, looked it up online and followed the recipe as intended. Who knew I actually did like pork tenderloin? Apparently 135°F is about the goal, not 180°F.”
“Whenever I go to restaurants, a huge pet peeve of mine is when people fiddle with a Cuban sandwich. Everyone is trying to add stuff like micro greens, chipotle aioli, pulled pork etc. it’s a simple, perfect sandwich people, you don’t need to mess with it.”
“People over cook fish all the time. That’s why a lot of people say they don’t like fish because they’ve never been served properly cooked piece.”
“Not browning onions for a curry slowly & properly. It should feel like you’re about to burn them.”
“I find that a lot of people overcook their omelettes/scrambled eggs/fried eggs.”
“Pot roast. It’s not supposed to be dry and stringy and minimally seasoned.”