daidokoro the japanese kitchen podcast by pat tokuyama square icon

Episode 6 – 7 important lessons I’ve learned since I started cooking regularly

What lessons have you learned since you started cooking? Here are 7 I'd love to pass on to you.

Show Notes

Seven things that I learned since I started cooking regularly. you’re listening to the daidokoro video podcast. Hi, I’m Pat tokuyama. And you’re about to discover some of the tastiest ways to feed your mind, body and soul. A pharmacist by training you may know me as the founder of all day I eat like a shark, the food blog YouTube channel or as author of several Japanese cookbooks, if you desire to live a healthy life and are looking for a different way forward with a hunger for growth, then this video podcast is for you. Daidokoro is a Japanese term for kitchen. And I’m glad you’re here with each episode, we’re going to be bringing clarity to your cooking by blending Japanese tradition and life lessons into bite sized bits that even a shark would enjoy ready to make some magic happen.


So believe it or not, there was a time in my life when I actually didn’t really care about cooking. And I just wanted to eat out. So I would say this is probably in my college days, and maybe also a little bit of my pharmacy school days. But after I finished and started working, I did begin to cook a little bit more often and really appreciate homemade food, food that I made at least. So one of the things that I think many of you can relate to if you’ve been cooking for a while is a recipe that calls for one exotic ingredients that you’ll only use for that one recipe and never use again. So I know a couple of things that have sort of just sat in my pantry after I bought them for a recipe or two. One of them is like Sichuan peppercorns for example, I don’t really cook too much such one food, maybe maple tofu every now and then. But that’s about a hit. And the second thing is Urfa chili, which is a Turkish chili that I got for a Turkish dish. And that one’s also sitting in my pantry. And I haven’t really used it since that one recipe. So maybe you can relate.


Sometimes if you know that there is a recipe that is calling for an exotic ingredients that may make or break that dish like you absolutely need it, you might not really have a choice, you just need to buy it. But if you can get away with it, maybe there’s something that you can substitute instead, both of those two ingredients that I mentioned, have a very unique flavor and can really change the end dish if you don’t use them. So I think in those two cases, you don’t really have a choice. But if there is a way that you can substitute or sort of get around that exotic ingredients, maybe you can’t, and that will save you some space in your pantry and your spices from going bad from not using them.


The second thing, if you’re going to be cooking from a recipe, whether it’s a blog post, a cookbook, a YouTube video, a cooking class, if you look at it at first glance, and you notice there’s a long list of ingredients, or even worse, a long list of directions, like 20 different steps, for example, you might want to think twice about cooking that dish. And instead, if you can actually get it at a restaurant and let them do all the work while you get to just go ahead and eat it. So for me, one of the things that I usually do when I’m eating out is to order things that I know are either going to take a lot of time or effort or a lot of preparation and ingredients to make. So in other words, they’re sort of complicated or time intensive or energy intensive. And rather than doing it myself, let them do it and order it at a restaurant instead. And yes, there are situations where occasions where it might taste better if you actually do all that work up front and do yourself. So every now and then I don’t follow that rule. But that’s one of the things that I have been a little bit more conscious of, especially if I want to eat a certain type of food is think, can I get this at a restaurant, if not, then I might hold off a little bit, maybe for like a month or two. And if I can’t, then for sure, I will go ahead and just make it. 


The third thing that I’ve noticed as it pertains to any sort of cooking resource like recipes, cookbooks, YouTube videos, whatever it is, sometimes the reviews or the feedback might not necessarily be accurate. Why? Because everybody has different tastes. Some people might think like things a little bit saltier, a little bit sweeter, a little bit more sour, depending on whatever it is that you’re making. And because of that, it may not be their preferred way of making it or their preferred flavor. And they might leave their review accordingly. Right. So it’s subjective. The second thing is even worse is that people will leave a review on a recipe. So for example, like on Food Network are New York Times where people can leave comments and stuff like that about what it is that they liked or didn’t like, or what they changed is, you may have noticed that a lot of times people change a lot of different things from the original recipe, whether it’s an ingredient, spice, or whatever. And it totally changes the recipe. So that review that they left is not going to be accurate for the original recipe as it was written. So that’s the other thing you got to take those reviews and those comments and such with a grain of salt because you never know if that person followed that recipe verbatim or as it was written. But the good thing I think is since you’re the one doing the cooking, you can adjust the flavors and the ingredients to your tastes as you go.


And this leads us to the fourth thing that I’ve also sort of learned as I’ve cooked more often is to trust your intuition. So if you see a recipe or list of ingredients or some directions that seemed a little bit off, like maybe there’s too much salt, or maybe they’re going to be cooking this too long and it’s going to overcook or undercooked go with your gut, chances are you might be right. And if you’re not, for whatever reason, you can always make an adjustment after the fact for example, under cooking it, you can just cook it a little longer. And if you don’t have enough salt or seasoning at the beginning, when you’re finishing the dish, you can add it in at the end. So you can always put more in, but you can’t take it out, at least when it comes to salt and sugar and certain spices. Actually, most ingredients right. 


The fifth thing that I have learned as I’ve cooked more often is to use quality ingredients. don’t cheap out on the food that you’re using one because it’s going to impact the flavor of your food. And two, you should spend money on yourself and treat yourself when you go to a restaurant, they may or may not be using the cheapest ingredients. So when you’re cooking at home, you have a choice. And you can choose to use better ingredients. And when you use better ingredients, you’re going to have better food, better flavor, better color, maybe even better nutrition, especially as it pertains to fresh foods or foods that have been grown on a small farm, for example, versus something that’s been commercially produced. Maybe you’ve had a tomato that you got at a supermarket versus farmer’s market or fruit that you’ve gotten at your supermarket versus a farmer’s market. And you may have noticed that there’s a big difference in the flavor, at least I have and usually prefer the smaller operations because usually it’s better quality. But that’s just me and when you’re cooking ethnic cuisine so for example, Japanese cuisine or Italian cuisine, make sure that you’re using the key seasonings or ingredients that are produced in those countries. So if you’re going to be cooking Japanese food, you want it to taste like Japanese food that you would get in Japan. Make sure to use Japanese seasonings for example soy sauce, you might be tempting to substitute Thai soy sauce, Chinese soy sauce, Korean soy sauce, Vietnamese soy sauce, Indonesian soy sauce, any other Asian soy sauce for Japanese soy sauce, but if you do that for Japanese dish, it’s not gonna taste right. So that’s on you if you do that, that is something to keep in mind is sometimes you cannot really substitute certain ingredients even though they might be the same soy sauce. And if you’ve ever read real food, fake food, which is one of my favorite food books about real food and fake food, you may know about fake wine, or fake olive oil, or even fake cheese. So for Italian food, it’s important if you want your Italian food to taste Italian to not only use Italian ingredients like Parmesan cheese from Parmesan, Italy or olive oil from Italy, one of the ways that you can verify that is to look for a seal or the three letters D O P, which stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta. Sorry for my Italian I don’t speak Italian. But DOP stands for that, and basically means that it’s a protected food that is only supposed to be made in that region or that city of Italy and you know that it’s going to be authentic. 


The sixth thing that I’ve learned since I started cooking regularly is to invest in good cookware. So one of the things that I changed in my kitchen was to stop using those nonstick skillets which usually need to be replaced every few years because the nonstick coating comes off and gets into your food. And it’s probably not something that you really want to be eating. So I switched to enamel cast iron, and then also Stainless Steel Cookware, they are a little bit more pricey, but I know for for sure all of those are going to last a lifetime, maybe even a generation or two. And they’re a good investment that I have been pretty happy with. If you’re interested in some of that cookware that I have bought over the years and use regularly I’ll link a couple of YouTube videos and the resources that you can check out after this episode. 


And then the last thing that I have learned since I started cooking regularly that is that it really pays to invest in yourself. So as it pertains to cooking, that means cookbooks, cooking classes, cooking courses. And also just firsthand experience. There’s nothing like cooking your food yourself and learning what works and what doesn’t work. Because you can’t learn how to cook by reading a book or watching TV, you got to go and do yourself and figure out what it is that you enjoy eating and what you enjoy cooking and how things work on the stove on the cutting board. And maybe the fast way to do that is through a cooking class like some of mine if you’re interested in Japanese food, and I’ll link those in the description below as well. And if you’re wondering why I say that it’s because I have also taken cooking classes not only here in the US but also abroad when I was traveling for example, in India, I took a Indian cooking class because I wanted to learn how to cook good Indian food which is one of my favorite foods to eat. And it definitely helped me get some confidence and also a basic understanding of the way that food is prepared Indian style.


I don’t know maybe you have taken cooking classes before and you can relate and if you haven’t, maybe you can try taking one and find out for yourself. 


Thanks for joining us today from wherever you’re watching or listening from. And if you haven’t yet it means a lot to me if you could share your thoughts in a review on on iTunes. So let me know what you think of this new video podcast. And then I can take that feedback and make things better for next time and to celebrate the launch of this brand new video podcast where you are going to be doing a little giveaway all you got to do to enter is subscribe and send us a screenshot of your review make sure to check out the link in the description or show notes for all the details and I’d encourage you to share this with a friend or a loved one because if you’ve gotten value out of its chances are they will too. want to try cooking Japanese food at home from scratch. Head over to alldayieat.com/aisatsu to get started today. And if you’re new here make sure to check out alldayieat.com/daidokoro for all the show notes, bonus materials, resources and more.


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Konnichiwa! (Hello!) I'm Pat Tokuyama, a Japanese tofu cookbook author, who travels for music, food, and adventure. If you like Japanese tea, checkout some of the newestorganic japanese tea, matcha bowls and noren and more!

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