easy to follow the same old tried and true. heres how to break out 👇
seven tips for overcoming boring cooking habits and building confidence. 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 view desire to live a healthy life and are looking for a different way forward with a hunger for growth than 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.
I agree it’s easy to follow the old tried and true. If you want to cook differently, here’s how to breakout. So when I was in pharmacy school, one of the things that they had for one of the student events was an Iron Chef Contest. So if you’re not familiar with Iron Chef used to be a Japanese cooking show where they would sort of compete against each other and make a certain dish and then there’d be some judges to critique it. And then somebody would be crowned the Iron Chef, we started did that format at UCSF when I was a student. And I entered the contest as one of the participants. So I didn’t really know what to expect at that time. I wasn’t really too into food, but I did enjoy cooking. And I did enjoy eating.
So I figured why not actually got some inspiration from a recipe that my mom gave me for some poke. Poke is like a sort of a tuna salad, similar to what they would serve in Hawaii, if you’ve ever been there and had it there, it was one of my favorite foods to eat. And that was what we use for the cooking competition. So given our constraints, and by the end of the competition, I won. So that was a sort of a pleasant surprise, I didn’t think I was going to win, but I did. And if you can imagine what that might do for you, if you’re ready to enter a contest and win as a result of your cooking or whatever it is that you made, that’s probably going to give you just a little bit of a confidence boost.
So from that point onward, I did feel a little bit more comfortable in the kitchen, whether it was something that I had been cooking many times before or something totally new. So the first thing that you can try to do to break out is to potentially challenge yourself and compete against some of your peers. Maybe at the local fair, if you have some sort of a chili cook off, for example, or a bake off where you can create something and then have some people critique it or evaluate it as part of a contest that might be one way to challenge yourself and try something different.
The second thing is going to be to buy some new cookware or tools. Not all tools are necessary, at least as it pertains to most cooking tools do help to make things easier. And if you do have things that make things easier when you’re in the kitchen, preparing chances are you’re going to be more inclined to do the cooking because it’s easier to do. At least that’s kind of how it is for me. So a couple things that I’ve gotten in the past year so that I’ve made my life a little bit easier is this might sound funny to you, but it’s a citrus juicer, I never really had one because my mom gave me an old plastic one that I found out is actually a baby processing. It looks like a juicer, but it’s actually to make our puree, baby foods. I didn’t know that until it came up one day. So that’s what I’ve been using. But now I have a real juicer which just sits in a canning jar. I love that thing.
Because I do use a lot of citrus in my cooking, which I don’t know if that surprises you or not, but I do also I got a rice machine last year prior to that we were using my wife’s old rice cooker, which I think she’s had since college or so but now we have a new fancy one and rice tastes exactly the same, but it has a lot more functions and stuff that you don’t need. But nevertheless, making rice is pretty simple it’s peace of mind. And that’s another thing that I have enjoyed adding to my kitchen.
The third thing that you can do to break out of your boring cooking habits is to take a look in a food cooking magazine. So if you’ve seen some of my other episodes, you might have noticed that I have mentioned Cook’s Illustrated food and wine or Bon Appetit you’ve ever looked in those magazines usually they’re featuring different food products for you to try. If you’re feeling a little bit compulsive as it pertains to shopping for food ingredients, you might be inclined to buy something that you’ve never cooked with before but sounds delicious. I know I have and that has sort of taken me off in different directions as far as cooking random dishes or, or trying to figure out how the heck I’m supposed to use this ingredient in my cooking and being a little bit more creative in that sense with a new ingredients that you’ve never used before. And perhaps you’ll find something that’ll help you to enjoy food again in a new way.
So the fourth thing that I have also done over the years as I’ve gotten more experienced and more confident in doing what I do in the kitchen is to try different things. So for example, if I find a recipe for a new dish that I’ve never cooked before, I may or may not follow the recipe verbatim. Instead I’ll use my intuition and try to enhance the dish or the recipe. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t work but that’s where your intuition comes in or your gut and try to push myself and challenge myself in that sense, and sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.
So in addition to not following a recipe for something that you’ve never cooked before, I think what you can also do is make a same dish, but different ways. So for example, as it pertains to Japanese rice if you don’t have a rice cooker, but instead you’re using a pot, or cast iron, or maybe even something more traditional, like a donabe, which is like a clay pot that goes over open flame, you can actually experience the same dish in different ways. And I think most people may not know this unless they’ve actually traveled in Japan and had rice that’s been cooked that way.
But if you haven’t, one of the benefits of doing so is that you get okoge. That’s the term for burnt okoge is to burn. And okoge means the burnt rice at the bottom and it’s not really burnt, let the clay pot helps to crisp it up in a way that’s a regular rice cooker cannot, even though it might have that function on the rice machine, it’s never going to be the same or as good as using open fire and a donabe. So if you cook the same thing in different ways that’s going to help to improve your knowledge and you’ll understand a little bit better about how to get certain textures, flavors or aromas or presentations with the foods that you’re cooking. So if you’ve never had a chance to enjoy okoge, you will need a donabe or a clay pot. Sometimes the Korean restaurants if you’re ever had a soondubu or soon tofu, which is the tofu soup, sometimes they’ll serve the rice also in a clay pots and that’ll be another way that you can also enjoy okoge or crispy rice very delicious. Oishi.
The sixth thing that I do for overcoming my boring cooking habits is to try cooking different cuisines. So last year, I was all about Mexican food cooking tortillas from scratch using corn and nixtamalizing it in the Mrs Wages pickling lime and then processing it in my food processor and then pressing it into tortillas and then cooking it on the stove. There’s nothing like homemade tortillas that are made from freshly nixtamalizing corn. If you’ve never tried that before, I highly recommend that you do it at least one time in your life. It is a lot of work. But the flavor is unlike anything else. Unless you’ve been to Mexico where they have fresh tortillas Of course.
So the next best thing I guess is to make it yourself is what I’m saying. So in addition to the tortillas I’d made pistolette as well as some of the other corn products that you can make. using fresh hominy like masa, you can make a little tamale. So in addition, I think more recently, what I’ve made is African stew called maafe. It’s maafe it’s made with peanuts. So it’s from West Africa, it’s another sort of exotic food, if you will, I’ve never been to West Africa, hopefully I’ll get a chance to go there someday and eat the real thing. And I think will help you to step out of your usual day to day and cooking habits.
And last but not least, is to ask for feedback. So whether it’s your friends, your family, your co workers, if you’re doing this data, like Office, party or potluck, ask for feedback. Or if you don’t have to ask for it, you can just observe and see what people are doing. If they’re eating your food or not eating it, I know for me, my wife Emy, she lets me know if something is good by eating it. And if she doesn’t like it, she just won’t eat it. So that’s my feedback from her. But if you’ve ever participated in any of my cooking programs, my live trainings, I always send out a survey or have a link to it in the members area so that I can get feedback and improve for next time. In Japanese. There’s a term called Kaizen which means to literally improve or to do over for the better next time. So that’s what I set out to do with all my cooking programs so that I can continue to build upon and grow and make them better each version or each update.
So those are seven of my tips for overcoming boring cooking habits. There’s some of the things that have worked for me as far as stepping outside of my comfort zone, trying new things, and continuing to grow and develop and become a little bit more of a, I guess, cosmopolitan cook, or more experienced cook more venturous Cook, it works for me, maybe it’ll work for you. I’d be curious if you have any other tips or suggestions what you have tried in the past, what’s worked for you let me know in the comments. And if you’d like to contribute to this podcast, make sure to check out the link in the description to leave me a voicemail, and maybe we can feature you on a future episode.
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