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Tips and Tricks: So You Don’t Burn Your Fingertips

Published on
21 October 2023
Chef Silvano
Chef Silvano

Where roast, pasta, and dumplings once stood as unwavering pillars. Today, amidst a constant influx of new insights and conflicting nutritional doctrines, one hardly knows what is truly right anymore. It appears to me that many quickly grasp at the straw of a new diet doctrine. A (seemingly) plausible nutritional direction. And in the process, they often get their fingers burned. So here are my tips and tricks, so you don’t burn your fingertips

Our daily bread, the foundations of our nutrition, indeed of life itself, must be approached and altered with the utmost delicacy and sensitivity. Unconsidered interventions have immeasurable consequences. What is most essential is finding a measure that does justice to the fundamentals of our nutrition and can be applied by everyone amidst all the extreme and contradictory opinions.

What could be closer than one’s own perception!

In the realm of original, genuine, and simple food, you’re much closer to your goal than when you must first wade through complicated explanations and delve into theories to develop a taste. Everyone can discern which food carries substance and strength, as opposed to those lacking valuable components, inflated, and empty. Hone your senses with these tips and tricks, observe, and experiment with what suits you. Don’t be thrown off by the myriad of theories. Most of them fixate on a specific aspect and disproportionately magnify it. Nothing is inherently evil; the benefit or harm depends solely on the measure and balance of various nutritional components.


About Seasoning

A chef or a cook can possess all the skills – good knowledge of ingredients, precision, dexterity, organisational talent – but it is perfect seasoning that leads to complete success.

Let’s condense the most important principles of seasoning into a simplified, vivid system in practice, that of the three “S‘s”. It does not claim to be universal but only practically valid.

Every perfect taste contains the three basic elements:

Unlock the secrets to sweetness, sourness, and saltiness with these tips and tricks. While other elements like aroma, tannins, bitterness, spiciness, alcohol, and fat contribute, the core always comprises the three “S’s.” A taste lacking any of these components registers as bland, expressionless, or even unpleasant. These three “S’s” create an interconnected triangle, meaning any adjustment to one element impacts the equilibrium of the other two. Mastering the art of balancing sweetness, sourness, and saltiness according to specific flavors elevates your dishes to unparalleled taste sensations.

It’s essential to recognise that even the subtlest hints of sweetness, sourness, or saltiness on the palate wield influence. These elements exist in foods to varying degrees; for instance, celeriac boasts high mineral content (salt), tomatoes exhibit natural acidity, and onions showcase their inherent sweetness. Seasoning then becomes a meticulous adjustment of the sweet, sour (including spiciness), and salty taste components, with the recipe already providing the foundational composition. Often, the slightest touches yield the most profound effects during seasoning. Yet intentional contrasts can also be crafted by accentuating specific components of a dish, even in desserts. The interplay of all these elements shapes a harmoniously balanced whole.

Contrast and interaction give life its allure and beauty. Food, intended to bolster vitality and the joy of living, adheres to these same principles. Without a spectrum of colours, diverse forms, varied textures, aromas, tastes, and the interplay of heat and cold, as well as love and creativity, food remains empty and lifeless.


Seasoning begins with salt and pepper, but it doesn’t stop there – there’s much more to explore. Many chefs and cookbooks don’t delve into a specific aspect: the incorporation of various flavor enhancers, extracts, and pre-made bouillons. These additives result from the natural fermentation of grains, legumes, molasses, yeast, and similar ingredients, including vegetables. In practical terms, few chefs or home cookers can do without such flavourings, and there’s nothing amiss with judiciously incorporating them, particularly in vegetarian cuisine where a robust flavour foundation is sometimes lacking. Throughout kitchen traditions, you’ll find a plethora of these “secret ingredients.” I recall a Sicilian chef who crafted an unparalleled anchovy seasoning using traditional regional methods.

The inevitable onion: a large portion of recipes in conventional cuisine begins with sautéing onions. This often results in many dishes tasting conventionally and monotonously of sautéed onions. Try omitting it once and discover the richness of flavor nuances possible even without sautéed onions.


Most chefs and cookbooks remain silent on one topic: The use of various flavor enhancers, extracts, and ready-made bouillons. These are natural fermentation products of cereals, legumes, molasses, yeast, and vegetables. I hardly know any chef or cook who can do without such flavorings in practice, especially in purely vegetarian cuisine, where sometimes the flavour “foundation” is lacking. Kitchen tradition is full of such “secret ingredients.” Recalling a chef in Sicily, who prepared an unbeatable anchovy seasoning according to traditional, regional methods.

And then there’s the ubiquitous onion: Many recipes in traditional cuisine start with sautéing onions. This results in many dishes tasting conventionally and monotonously of sautéed onions. Try omitting them once and discover the wealth of flavor nuances possible even without sautéed onions.

Practical Tips

Pro Tips and Tricks
  • Practical Kitchen Wisdom This guide goes beyond theory, offering practical tips and tricks that seasoned chefs rely on daily. Discover innovative methods for roasting nuts and seeds, preventing discoloration in blanched vegetables, and elevating your dishes through the strategic use of spices and herbs. We unveil the secrets to perfecting egg whites, sautéing like a pro, and choosing the right wines and spirits to enhance your culinary creations.

When using nuts or seeds (sesame, sunflower seeds), it is often recommended to roast them first. Instead of browning them in the frying pan, it is better to roast them on a baking sheet in an oven preheated to 150°C. Shake the baking sheet regularly to ensure they turn and roast evenly. Snack on a nut occasionally to check the roasting level. Remove them as soon as they smell pleasantly robust. However, you must take into account that the roasted goods continue to “cook” due to residual heat.

When blanching cauliflower, you can avoid the occasional grayish discoloration by adding half a squeezed lemon peel to the water. However, this applies only to cauliflower; using it with all green vegetables would bleach the color.

When removing seeds from a pumpkin, do not shy away from the effort of soaking the large seeds in water to remove any pumpkin residue, then dry the seeds in the sun or in an 80°C oven. Both your children and the neighbors’ children will delight in them. It’s these little culinary experiences in childhood that awaken later sensitivity for something genuine and unadulterated.

Always place a damp kitchen cloth under a bowl in which you are whisking a mixture.
This prevents the bowl from slipping, leaving both your hands free to work.

Whipping egg whites may not always be successful. This can have various causes: even a small trace of yolk, a trace of fat in the bowl or on the whisk, is enough to prevent the formation of peaks. The egg whites turn out best if they are not cold; add a pinch of salt and start beating slowly at the beginning. Speed up after the first foam forms. One must be able to stop beating at the right moment, before it breaks and turns liquid again.

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Besides wine, champagne, vermouth, sherry, muscatel, and various southern wines should not be scorned even in natural cuisine. They are natural products that serve us well in the quest for appealing, varied cuisine.

Proper use of paprika powder requires knowledge of the following facts: to achieve optimal consistency and flavor development, paprika must always be dissolved in warm fat and stirred without lumps before adding liquid. Paprika powder should never be heated too strongly throughout the cooking process, as it burns and becomes bitter.

The taste of many spices, especially seeds and robust dry leaves, can be activated before use. To do this, prepare the spices and all other ingredients to be added. Heat the pan dry. Then add the spices – the robust ones first, the finer ones last – and heat them while shaking to prevent uneven burning. As soon as the fine spice aromas rise, add the rest of your cooking ingredients as mentioned in my tips and tricks.

Always keep a glass of cold water handy while cooking. This saves you unnecessary and hasty reactions. If something is about to burn or boil over, be it milk, sauce, pasta, or vegetable broth boiling too vigorously – a splash of water will calmly bring everything back on track.

Sautéing involves briefly searing or quickly cooking, which rapidly closes the pores through sudden exposure to heat, causing them to contract. Heat the cookware to the necessary temperature before introducing the food; you can assess this by holding your flat hand just above the pan bottom and sensing the radiated heat. To avoid the fat from burning upon addition, incorporate it a few seconds before adding the other ingredients. Alternatively, for optimal results, deposit the food (such as vegetable cubes) already coated in hot fat into the preheated pan.

Grains should be prepared in shallow rather than deep pots. Particularly delicate varieties such as millet or buckwheat do not cook optimally in a deep pot. The upper part becomes dry and hard while the lower part overcooks and becomes mushy. The size of the cooking pot should be such that the water level does not exceed half the pot’s diameter.

When reheating grains or rice, always add a splash of water. By letting the rising steam warm it, the food stays moist and avoids drying out.

For sauce recipes with rice binding as a base, you can use fine oat flakes instead of precooked rice. Let them swell and use them according to the recipe.

After preparing hot emulsified sauces that include butter or oil, avoid covering them, as they may curdle. If this does happen, reboil the whole sauce, mix well, and incorporate additional fat gradually. Taste again.

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Batter can only benefit from applying the rule of the three “S’s”. Besides salt, add a small trace of sweetness and refresh it with white wine or lemon juice. Sufficient time to swell only improves the batter.

Fat is a substance that repeatedly causes controversies. However, fats are vital, and in the kitchen, nothing works without them. Therefore, the question is not whether to use fat or not but to use fat in limited quantities and of the best quality. Instead of trying to avoid every droplet of fat, try to find a more relaxed relationship with it; treat yourself occasionally to something deep-fried or fried and balance it with low-fat side dishes.

Various factors can cause bloating. When you shift to a fiber-rich diet with unrefined products, your digestive process needs to adapt, leading to initial increased bloating. Improper preparation of whole grains, especially buckwheat, rye, and barley, as well as vegetables, can contribute to bloating. Combining heavy-to-digest foods, like cabbage with dense grains (such as barley or rye) and legumes, can result in an almost explosive effect. Conversely, blending natural foods with highly refined products, such as white sugar, is also unfavorable. That’s why you’re exploring these tips and tricks.

chef-silvano-braga-journal-beautiful Indian chef

To prevent digestive problems, use digestive-stimulating spice seeds and herbs, prepare balanced dishes, pay attention to proper preparation, and avoid too extreme steps. Don’t underestimate the impact of presenting dishes in an appetising and colourful manner—it not only tantalises our taste buds but also enhances digestion.

Avoid hasty, wolfing-down your food! Even reading while eating indirectly leads to bloating.
Pay attention to your personal sensitivities. And learn these tips and tricks.

Lastly, a tip on how to grasp the essence of natural cuisine: imagine that the various vegetables and grains, the oils, pasta, and spices, your pans, and knives are living beings that can perceive how you treat them. Develop a relationship with them. You don’t have to believe in it, just treat it as a game. Stick with it for a few weeks and observe the reactions of your diners…