How To Find Your Way in an Asian Grocer

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When I became a chef, the power and allure of the food market and grocery stores was so strong that my mum would need to visit them everyday. It was always a great thing that mum bought home - fruits and vegetables, sweet cake and candy and meat or fish. 

How To Find Your Way in an Asian Grocer

If you go to an Asian store in your neighbourhood of Melbourne and Sydney - they have the same format. First, you might walk through a fresh produce session where you can find all sort of leafy green, salads, ginger, garlic, spring onion, sprouts and exotic mushroom.

The next thing you will see is the meat with pork belly, pork mince, duck, chicken, beef and lamb. The good thing is you can ask the butcher to cut whatever size you like your meats or poultry.

There is the seafood session with fresh fish in the tanks, crabs in the basket and even a few still alive. You can buy the whole unit and the shop assistant will clean them for you. Except those lobster or crab as they will keep them as fresh as possible when they are alive.

Then you will visit the frozen session with ready to eat or cook items such as soy products, bamboo, spring rolls pastry and other frozen desserts from durian to Asian icecream - look for frozen seafood such as prawn or scallop.

Next, you will see the refrigerated aisle with rice cakes, tofu, and fresh noodles in every Asian grocery store. 

You will pass into dry goods aisles of hot chilli sauces, pickled vegetables, soy sauces, vinegar, cooking wines, oils, spices, dried seaweed, dried mushroom and dry fungi, dried noodles, and all sorts of junk food you can think off.

The bigger store will also sell small equipment such as knife and wok or frying pan sometimes these guys also stock household items.

These days, Asian grocery stores are increasingly common and are even frequented by a lot more non-Asian people, who are often drawn by the cheaper produce and meat. If there’s one near you, it’s a great place to get inspired and stock up your pantry.

If you’re just getting to know Asian cooking, here are a few items that you’ll want to pick up–a selection of the basic, bread and butter pantry items that are essential to any cook’s stockpile.

  • Soy sauce 
  • Fish sauce
  • Sweet chilli sauce
  • Dark soy sauce
  • Black vinegar
  • Sesame oil
  • White pepper
  • Shaoxing cooking wine
  • Cornstarch
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Chilli
  • Rice

 

How to?

Popular Indian Spice Blends

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Garam Masala

Ingredients

  • 15g cumin seeds
  • 25g coriander seeds
  • 5g black peppercorns
  • 20g cardamon pods
  • 5g cinnamon stick
  • 2 x cloves
  • 1 whole nutmeg grated

Chaat Masala

Ingredients

  • 3 TBL cumin seeds
  • 1 TBL coriander seeds
  • 5 tsp fennel seeds
  • 4 TBL mango powder (amchur)
  • 3 TBL salt 
  • 5 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 5 tsp dried ginger
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 5 tsp ajwan seeds

Method for both spice mixes

Use a pan and dry toast each individual spice until it smells fragrant. Set aside the spices. Blitz the ingredients in a spice grinder or pound together with a stone mortar and pestle. Do this until you achieve a fine powder. Remove and store in a jar for up to 6 months.

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How To Chose Wok & Pan Guide

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Woks

If I had to choose one all-inclusive cooking tool, I would choose a wok. A wok is a traditional Asian pan used for cooking quickly at high temperatures. Typically, it gets used for stir-frying, boiling, braising, deep-frying and steaming. You can also do most of this with a regular pan or skillet, however a wok is thin and large, making it very heat efficient and easier to use when cooking Asian foods. 

An Asian chef will often say that when the bottom of the wok begins to glow, it’s ready to use for cooking. Unfortunately, most home-style stoves cannot deliver this kind of heat needed for stir frying. If you like cooking with a traditional wok, you could consider removing the burner covers on your hob to provide closer contact with the flame. 

Stir-Fry Pans

In most western style kitchens, you will have to use a stir-fry pan or skillet for Asian cookery. Stir-Fry pans and newer westernised woks are typically smaller than traditional woks and have flat bases. This makes them suitable to use on gas and electric stoves. Although they may not get hot enough to achieve the heat of a traditional wok, they are still great pans for a number of applications. The best stir-fry pans are still made from carbon steel, but a number of other materials also perform well. 

Materials

Traditional woks or steel pans are made from carbon steel or cast iron. The best ones are often hammered by hand to from multiple layers of carbon steel. However, the worst ones are simply stamped from a single sheet of rolled steel. Because carbon steel and iron will corrode over time, a traditional wok or steel pan must be seasoned and well maintained.

Aluminium woks and pans are strong, lightweight, and heat conductive, but are also chemically reactive. Solid aluminium woks will alter the taste of foods that are acidic, basic, or contain eggs. Anodised aluminium (an electrochemically treated aluminium) is an excellent material for woks and pans. It is extremely hard, heats fast and evenly, is nonreactive and relatively non-stick.

Woks or pans can be constructed with layered aluminium cores and clad entirely in stainless steel, which also work well. They are strong, heat responsive and their nonreactive surfaces promote the browning of foods. As a bonus, they will also work with induction ranges, the cooktops that function with electromagnetic fields instead of heat.

Non-Stick Surfaces

Non-stick wok or pan surfaces have their advantages and their disadvantages. On the plus side, they are easy to clean and require less oil than traditional pans to prevent sticking. On the downside the surfaces can be delicate, and they do not generally promote browning as well as metal surfaces.

Although innovations have made Teflon coatings more durable than ever, Teflon will release highly toxic vapours if heated above 350C. Because wok cooking and stir-frying requires high heat, Teflon coated woks should be avoided if possible.

Anodised aluminium woks or pans are nontoxic and scratch resistant. They tend to stick more than coated pans, but they do a better job of searing and browning and are hard enough to be used with metal utensils. Some manufacturers use an anodized aluminium that has been electrochemically "infused" with non-stick polymers or utilise revolutionary ceramics to create more efficient non-stick surfaces. We recommend any of these as they are durable and effective.

The Handle

A good handle must be strong, sturdy, and remain cool to the touch. Wooden handles provide the best grip but are not oven safe, and therefore limit their versatility. Plastic handles can withstand oven temperatures up to 250°C, but can melt under a broiler. Stainless steel is a poor conductor, so long handles made from stainless steel are oven safe and will remain cool for a good amount of time. We typically recommend stainless steel handles for their versatility, but we don't think they offer an advantage here as you will probably never use your wok or pan in an oven.

Handles that have been riveted to the side of a pan are strong and durable, but the rivets may be difficult to clean around and can loosen in time with heavy use. Handles that have been permanently bonded to or forged from the same piece of metal as the cookware are ideal as they will never fail. We suggest avoiding handles that have been spot welded or attached to the cookware by means of a screw system as they will loosen easily and may break entirely.

Traditional woks have a round base with stick or side handles. Side handles are traditional to southern China while a long stick handles are more common in Northern China (and consequently referred to as a Peking Pan). Flat base woks have been designed to be used directly on your gas, electric or induction cooktop.

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Food Hygiene & Safety At Home?

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Food Hygiene & Safety At Home

Each year millions of people get sick from food born illnesses which can cause you to feel like you have the flu. They can also cause serious health problems and affect the immune-compromised the most. Good personal hygiene can help prevent food poisoning. Bacteria that cause food poisoning can be on everyone, even healthy people. You can spread bacteria from yourself to the food if you touch your nose, mouth, hair or your clothes, and then onto food.

Follow these four steps to help keep you and your family safe or you can try out master classes

CLEAN

Wash hands in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Do this before and after touching food. Wash your hands with soap and warm water, and don’t forget the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.

Thoroughly dry your hands immediately after you wash them. Always dry your hands with a clean towel, disposable paper towel or under an air dryer. The important thing is to make sure your hands are completely dry. Never use a tea towel or your clothes to dry your hands.

  • Wash your hands after: going to the toilet; handling raw food; blowing your nose; handling garbage; touching your ears, nose, mouth or other parts of the body; smoking; handling animals.
  • Wash your kitchen equipment and countertops with hot soapy water. Do this after working with each food item.
  • Rinse fruits and veggies.
  • Clean the lids on canned goods before opening.

SEPERATE 

  •  Keep raw foods separated from cooked. Germs can spread easily from one to another.
  • Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs away from other foods. Do this in your shopping cart, bags, and fridge.
  • Do not reuse marinades used on raw foods unless you intend to cook them first.
  • Use a special cutting board or plate for raw foods only.

COOK

Foods need to get hot and stay hot, the heat is what kills germs. Different meats require different cooking temperatures to destroy harmful bacteria. For example, a steak need only be seared on the outside and can be rare inside, while minced meat must be carefully cooked to destroy bacteria. That’s because minced meat has a far greater surface area than the steak and the inside has been exposed to the atmosphere. This is what makes it at greater risk of bacterial contamination.

One way is to simply cook minced meat, sausages and poultry right through to the centre. No pink should be visible, and juices should run clear.

Using this method should ensure your meat and poultry is free from harmful bacteria, although what constitutes "pink" and "clear running juices" might differ from person to person, and the colour is not always a reliable indicator. It’s a good idea to invest in a food thermometer and use it. You can’t always tell by looking.

Safe cooking temperatures for protein:

  • Beef, Pork, Lamb 71 °C
  • Fish 63 °C
  • Ground Beef, Pork, Lamb 71°C
  • Poultry 74 °C

CHILL

  • Put food in the fridge as soon as you get home from the supermarket.
  • Marinate foods in the fridge.
  • 2-Hour Rule: Put foods in the fridge or freezer within 2 hours after cooking or buying from the store. Do this within 1 hour if it is hotter outside.
  • Never thaw food by simply taking it out of the fridge. Thaw food; in the fridge, under cold water, in the microwave.

FEEL SICK?

Call your doctor or dial 000 right away.

  • Save the food package, can, or carton. 
  • Have a think if the illness was caused by meat, poultry, or eggs. It may help your doctor diagnose and treat you.
  • Call the council of the premises if you think you got sick from food you ate in a restaurant or other food seller.

RISK?

Anyone can get sick from eating spoiled food. Some people are more likely to get sick from food-born illnesses, they include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Older adults
  • People with compromised immune systems or existing health issues

PERSONAL TIPS 

  • Wash and dry your hands thoroughly before handling food, and wash and dry them again frequently.
  • Dry your hands with a clean towel, disposable paper towel or under an air dryer.
  • Never smoke, chew gum, spit, change a baby’s nappy near food storage areas.
  • Never cough or sneeze over food, or where food is being prepared or stored.
  • Wear clean protective clothing, such as an apron.
  • Keep your personal items (including mobile phones) away from where food is stored and prepared.
  • Tie back or cover long hair.
  • Keep fingernails short so they are easy to clean.
  • Avoid wearing jewellery or only wear plain-banded rings when preparing food.
  • Completely cover all cuts and wounds with a wound strip or bandage (brightly coloured waterproof bandages are recommended).
  • Wear disposable gloves over the top of the wound strip if you have wounds on your hands.
  • Change disposable gloves regularly.

SAFE STORAGE TIPS

  • Any temperature between 5-60 C is considered the "danger zone" for food. If food stays in this danger zone for too long, harmful bacteria grow to levels that can cause illness. 
  • Never leave food out of the refrigerator for over 2 hours. If the temperature is above 32, no more than 1 hour.
  • Keep hot cooked food at or above 60 C if you aren't serving it right away or if you are serving buffet-style.
  • Put leftovers in shallow containers so they will cool quickly. They must be refrigerated at 5 C or below within 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is above 32 C).
  • There are some exceptions, but most foods can be frozen. Leftover food that won't be eaten within 3 days should be frozen. Foods frozen for a very long time can lose quality, but if frozen at a constant temperature (-18 C), the food will be safe. Always label freezer containers and bags with the name of the food or dish and the date. Foods frozen in freezer bags or containers should be used within 3 to 6 months for best quality, while vacuum-sealed food can be frozen for up to 2 years.

REHEATING LEFTOVERS

Reheat foods to a minimum internal temperature of 75 C, or until they are steaming hot. Microwave ovens do not heat evenly, stir regularly or cover ensure even heat.

FRIDGE AND FREEZER?

Refrigerated food must be kept at or below 4.5 degrees Celsius. Many new refrigerators have a temperature display, so you know whether or not it is operating at the correct temperature. It's also important to keep frozen food at a safe temperature. The temperature of the freezer should be -18 C or lower. If your refrigerator doesn't have a display, keep a refrigerator/freezer thermometer in it and check it from time to time.

CHECK THERMOMETER

The best way to check a thermometer's accuracy is with ice water. Fill a container all the way to the top with ice cubes and then fill the container with cold water to about 2cm below the top of the ice.

  1. Insert the thermometer stem or probe 4cm into the ice water, not touching the container.
  2. Slowly swirl it for about 15 seconds. It should read 0 degrees Celsius.
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What's The Knives We Use?

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How To Plan A Weekly Menu?

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Plan A Weekly Menu

Are you struggling to manage a busy lifestyle and eat right? Menu planning may be the answer. You’ll find it easier to eat well, save money and get tasty meals to the table faster. Which of these steps can help you to plan better?

Ask for meal ideas and share the work.

  • Ask others for lunch or dinner ideas.
  • Decided from the protein, for example, if you shop on Saturday then you want to have Sat-fish. Then you go for Sun-chicken as chicken wouldn't last long.
  • If you have too many meats in the weekend then you can have Mon-vegetarian. Then you have noodle or pasta on Tuesday. You may decide to make Wed-beef and Thu-frozen-seafood. You will try to do use up your leftover by Friday by having a Fri-Stir-fry.  

List your favourite seasonal meals ideas.

  • Use the list as an idea starter. Keep it to use again.
  • Write down the shopping list for each recipe.

Find out what’s on hand and what’s on special to plan your meals.

  • Check the fridge, cupboard and freezer. 
  • Note what needs to be used up soon so it does not go to waste.
  • Keep the pantry well-stocked with healthy basics. 

 Start planning! List three meals and one or two snacks daily.

  • Keep meals simple during the busy work week.
  • Post menu plans in a visible spot. First home starts cooking!
  • Store menus in a binder to use again.

Eat healthy meals and snacks!

  • Plan meals and snacks using healthy basics prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or sodium. Limit the processed or prepared foods.  Eat fewer packaged, ready-to-eat and take-out foods. Eat fewer packaged, ready-to-eat and take-out foods.
  • Serve at least one serving of vegetables and/or fruit with each meal.

Save time on meal planning.

  • Use leftovers for lunches or as part of another meal.
  • Use time-saving appliances: slow cooker, rice cooker, toaster oven. 
  • For a cook's night off, make your own healthy frozen dinners.
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How To Restocking Your Pantry

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Why we need stock pantry?

 A stocked pantry is the best way to ensure you'll have everything you need to make a healthy and flavorful meal every day. A combination of classic pantry staples such as tin tomatoes, chicken broth and tin beans and flavour-boosting convenience items like herb mixes, soy sauce and jarred pesto are key to keeping your kitchen dinner-ready. 

This kitchen pantry list should include the items you need to prepare healthy recipes, plus a few other ingredients that will make impromptu meals easier and more delicious. If you're building an Asian pantry from scratch, start with the basics and slowly expand your pantry with some of the other ingredients as you're trying new recipes and cooking techniques.

Don't have a large pantry to stock? You can get this list down to go-to foods, the ones you are most likely to use in cooking your meals. This way, you can stock a smaller kitchen pantry cabinet without overwhelming your limited space. 

What do we need?

We suggest you can start with the following.

  1. Meat & Seafood
  2. Vegetable and Fruit
  3. Fresh Spices and Herbs
  4. Rice, Noodle and Pasta
  5. Dairy, Eggs and Small Goods
  6. Frozen items
  7. Lunch and Breakfast
  8. Dry Goods (pantry)
  9. Nuts and Seeds
  10. Seasoning and dry spices
  11. Beverage
  12. Kitchen consumables
  13. Cleaning
  14. Pest and Maintenance 
  15. Office Equipment 
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TIPS to store your food for optimal freshness during this lockdown

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Many of us have overstocked essentials and thus we must learn the art of storing food with an extended shelf life thus minimizing food waste. Here are the tips which can help keep your food fresh for an extended period of time.

Otao kitchen offers Online Cooking Experiences to Celebrate Winter Cooking

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Asian Cooking Courses Online in Australia?

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Online Cooking Classes

Home Cooking Live is a website that brings all the best cooking classes in a destination together and allows you to book a place online. Founded by Chef Ha Nguyen of Otao kitchen, who is founder of Asian cooking school in Melbourne previously worked in New Zealand and Australia, the cooking classes, which are available in Indonesia, Thailand, China, India, Japan, Korea and Vietnam currently, include pho making, green chicken curry and even classes for kids and vegans.

Chef instructors taking classes 

Chef Dylan Vickers has been working in some of the great Japanese restaurant  in Canada, The USA and now Australia, but just as importantly, Dylan has also spent his time teaching and mentoring Melbourne based home cooks.

You might think with a career spent time in the kitchen would be ready to relax, but far from this, Dylan is now setting his sights on training you, yes you online.

 

 

 

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The Supermarket's 7 Secrets You Want To Know

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Vegan Cooking Class Highlight

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This intensive course spans over 5 lessons, hosted by experienced chefs with Asian cuisine. A large proportion of this workshop’s content is structural cooking”, how to take a concept and apply this across the board to include ingredients, flavours and textures in order to multiply recipes. The kitchen skills such making soups, protein, noodles, dumplings and stir frying are all part of the workshop experience and advanced food preparation skills and most up to date techniques and ingredients are included in the workshop. Cooking vegetarian cuisine does require some more thought over traditional cooking and sometimes needs a dimension of extra creativity. 

You will expose to core techniques in the plant-based kitchen, this experience will allow you to explore and practice a variety of recipes and flavours from the region. The course begins with learning how to set-up a home kitchen so get you started cooking right away. A full introduction to core techniques for cooking vegetables, grains, legumes, and meat and dairy alternatives of plant-based foods and flavour principles. The course also covers some raw food techniques and addresses health supportive cooking with no oil, low sodium, and gluten free options.

This workshop is designed for anyone who enjoys either cooking at home to a high standard and is interested in a thorough grounding on vegetarian or for aspiring chefs or chefs already working in the industry who are looking to expand their vegetarian repertoire. You will be learning 60 recipes out of the menu list below.

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How To Get Organised In Your Kitchen

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Step 1 De-Cluttering

Take out all of your kitchen tools and sort them into a few piles: set aside and keep useful items that you use all the time, carefully consider what utensils you could donate, or give away based on how often you use those items. For example, how many times have you used that fondue pot haunting the back of your corner cupboard? Were the cobwebs lining it 2 or 3 decades old? My general rule of thumb is to remove from my kitchen any tools or utensils I haven’t used in the last 6 months- a year. Nostalgic or special technique based equipment can be moved to deep storage. There’s no point in having that tortilla press you use once every 2 years clogging up any of your useable, in kitchen space.  

Think about what multipurpose items could cover the functionality of multiple, single-function items. For example: do you really need a countertop deep fryer when you could fry things in a large pot of oil fitted with a thermometer. Instead of a panini press, do you instead have 2 heavy skillets you could use to do the same job? Sometimes less is more. Having 3-4 solid, well-made pans that suit 95% of your cooking needs is better than having 10 okay pans, half of which you hardly ever use. Get rid of the excessive duplicates of items. Do you really need 4 spatulas and 4 peelers? How about 2 well-made and comfortable spatulas and 1 sharp peeler? 


Smell all of your grains and nuts and make sure none of them has gone off or turned stale. Most nuts can last for around a year without spoiling and whole grains last about the same amount of time. If the jar smells stale at all, it probably is. Get rid of its contents and start afresh. The same goes for dried spices.  


Most ground spices aren’t useable after a year in storage. If they’re older than that, they’ve probably gone off. Don’t count your losses and just move on to greener pastures with a fresh bag.  


Also, give your soy sauce bottle a sniff. Once opened, soy sauce doesn’t usually last for longer than 2-3 months at room temperature. If it’s older, it’ll impart a strange flavour to all of your Asian cooking. In fact, one of the reasons why people often complain about not being able to make Asian food taste like a restaurant at home is because they’re using old soy sauce


Trust me, you’ll feel a lot better with more space and room to breathe= 

Step 2 Organising

Before putting all of your items back away, think about how you can efficiently place your kitchen items so they can be easily accessible where and when you need them. For example: 

Everyday items such as plates, plates, bowls, glassware, cups, cutlery items should be to be closer to the dishwasher or sink so you can load or unload them more easily. Place items that you use more often in the most reachable drawers and cupboards so you have the most access to the items that you use most frequently. Rewrite the placement of any kitchen item based on how functional it is in the space and don’t fall back into old habits. 

Cooking items such as pots, pans, dishes, cutting boards, spatulas, wooden spoons, measuring cups/spoons, mixing bowls, baking items should be close to your stove and cooking area. Theses should all be at an arms reach so you don’t have to go wandering back and forth across your kitchen all the time. 

Pantry Consider having a designated area for your pantry and dry storage items. Store heavy and large containers of flours or grains on the bottom shelf so you don’t have to lift them. Sort items by type and shape of containers. For example, all liquids and bottles of vinegar can be grouped together. All cans, since they have a similar shape can be grouped together. If you have the time, try labelling some of your dry items using a piece of masking tape and permanent marker to make finding items easier.

Drawers use small boxes or baskets in drawers to sort and keep tools and utensils separated.  

Step 3 Use Chef Tips 

Use one or two types of containers so you can easily see and reuse them. Ideally see-through containers.

 Get rid of the dead space by installing lazy susans in your corner cupboards

Make sure you can see everything in your pantry by placing items strategically

 Accessories and storage Consider the kinds of containers you’re using to store things and keep them organised by shape. Move larger containers to the back of shelves and smaller

 ones that might get lost in the cupboard closer to the front of the shelf where they’re more accessible. 

Consider storing frequently used hand utensils in an upright canister near your stove for easy access. 

Asian Master Classes Online

Asian Master Classes Online

An online cooking platform, inspired by Asian food, with weekly live demonstrations, how-to-videos and a recipe...

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Asian Vegan Cooking Online

Asian Vegan Cooking Online

In this online vegan cooking class, we bring you the best foods of Asia - using traditional techniques spanning many...

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Asian Cooking Junior Online

Asian Cooking Junior Online

In this online cooking class for kids, we create a variety of recipes from different cuisines, showing your kid some...

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How To Avoid Simple Mistakes Home Cooks Doing?

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1. Cutting With a Dull Knife

When I first began cooking in kitchens, I found that almost all of the knives that I used would be terribly dull. This would cause a lot of issues with the food that was being prepped, with tomatoes being squished instead of sliced. This caused many of the cooks to apply a great amount of pressure on the knife when cutting, which can cause knife accidents. A dull knife is a dangerous tool. Always keep it sharp and avoid the slips that could severely cut you. A knife’s edge should do the cutting and you should only have to apply minimal pressure.

2. Cooking at too high or too low temp

Finding the right temperature is an important instinct to have as a cook and is something that you will learn as you go. What I see is that cooks unfamiliar with high heat will burn food or overestimate the heat and undercook food. Know what your intended cooking method is before you begin. If it’s a pan sear, you want your temperature to be higher. If you have a large item being cooked through, you’ll want a lower temperature for a longer period of time. High heat is applied to smaller quicker items, so prep your ingredients accordingly beforehand.

3. Not prepping beforehand

Prepping on the fly is probably one of the worst ways someone can cook. Not only does this add additional stress, but it opens you up to missing key time frames and can cause you to burn or overcook between steps. Always read the recipe fully beforehand, and prep accordingly.

4. Creating recipes by volume, not weight

You will see a lot of recipes on your journey that list their recipes by volume. It is something that I don’t necessarily like for several factors. One, a cup of flour can vary widely depending on the person. Some use heaping, some compress. The actual weight can vary by up to 10% every time, which can mess up your consistency. Especially when baking, you should always be using weight whenever possible.

5. Using the wrong tools

The proper tools can mean the difference between failure and success. If you do not have a strainer, it will be very tough to strain a stock. Not only that but if you start bootstrapping your toolset you can lose the intended goal of the recipe. While a ricer might be called for in a certain recipe, it would be difficult to achieve the same result from other methods such as grating. Small differences can be the difference between a successful recipe or a failed recipe.

6. Ignoring Cooking Signs

In cooking, we have several signs we use to determine the doneness of our foods: sight, touch, time. Ignoring any of these signs due to uncertainty or inexperience can have terrible consequences. Always be sure to know your cooking signs and trust your instinct.

7. Estimating Recipes

This is usually one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to overconfident cooks. Estimating major aspects of a recipe should never be done. What makes us professional cooks is our consistency and knowledge application. I’ve seen far too many cooks winging the recipe and having disastrous results. If you think recipes by volume is bad, this is the far worse!

8. Cooking With Substandard Ingredients

Any cook worth their weight realizes that you are only as good as the ingredients you cook with. While a good cook can make an economical cut of proteins taste amazing, they cannot make terrible ingredients into good food. Always source the best produce, the highest quality meats and make that your standard. Don’t compromise otherwise you will compromise your end product.

Asian Master Classes Online

Asian Master Classes Online

An online cooking platform, inspired by Asian food, with weekly live demonstrations, how-to-videos and a recipe...

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From AUD $99 Book now
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Virtual Cooking Party

Join this online cooking class to cook, share and inspired Asian dishes. The subtle variations by cuisines and the...

Duration 2 Hours

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Virtual Team Building

Connect meaningfully, and inspire your team with this virtual ‘happy hour’. We provide online food...

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Asian Vegan Cooking Online

Asian Vegan Cooking Online

In this online vegan cooking class, we bring you the best foods of Asia - using traditional techniques spanning many...

Duration 20+ Hours

From AUD $99 Book now
Asian Cooking Junior Online

Asian Cooking Junior Online

In this online cooking class for kids, we create a variety of recipes from different cuisines, showing your kid some...

Duration 4 DAYS

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Tips and Tricks You Might Learn From Our Chef

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GET YOUR KNIFE SHARP

The very first thing you go to work in the kitchen, you will need to make sure you knife is sharp. Learn the sharp knives with a stone from Chef's Armoury . These guys have a great ideas and they do have a class for knife sharpening if you are keen on learn from the best. A sharp knife makes chopping so much faster and easier. You might want to learn to chop properly and that would make the chopping more fun.

USE THE RIGHT PEELER 

If peeling carrots or potatoes feels like it takes forever, it’s probably because you’re using the wrong peeler. My advice? Throw away the rusty swivel one that’s been sitting in your drawer for years and order a new one from ebay. 

GET READY BEFOR YOU COOK - MISE EN PLACE

This is how commercial kitchen works with “putting things in its place,” and it refers to getting all of your ingredients out, measured, and prepped before you start cooking. This is how restaurant kitchens get food out so quickly and efficiently. And while you don’t need to be quite so exacting at home, it’s much easier to follow a recipe when your ingredients are all ready to go in advance.

DRY YOUR MEAT AND FISH BEFORE COOKING

This is a great tip as skin to crisp, you need to get rid of as much moisture as possible — because moisture and steam kill any chance of crisping and browning. This will also prevent the meat and skin from sticking to the pan as it cooks.

KEEP THE HEAT TO MEDIUM

Even if you want food in a hurry, push up the heat to high isn’t always the best way. Slowly sautéing aromatics — like onions, shallots, or garlic — in oil over medium-low heat will bring out more flavour and will keep them from burning and getting bitter - in Asian cooking. Cooking meat or veggies over medium heat will give them time to cook all the way through without burning on the outside. Simmering soups or braises instead of boiling them will cook the ingredients and meld the flavours without making meat tough, or breaking veggies apart.

CUT VEGGIES IN UNIFORMED SHAPES

Those fancy vegetable cuts you see in nice restaurants? There’s reasoning behind them besides just looking impressive. Smaller cuts will cook quicker than big ones, so using a mix of both can vary the texture of a dish. We don't want something is soggy while something is still uncooked so we keep them uniformed.

CLEAN AS YOU GO

You’ve heard this before, but a clean kitchen bench is so much easier to work in. Wipe down your chopping board after you finish prepping each ingredient. Put pots, pans, and utensils in the sink or dishwasher as soon as you finish using them. Space is tight in restaurant kitchens especially the ones in Melbourne or Sydney. Cooks can spend the afternoon prepping for 100 guests or more, all from a single cutting board. 

FRY SMALL AMOUNT OF FOOD EACH TIME

Food can’t caramelise or brown in a crowded frying plan. A handful of sliced vegetables cooked in a hot frying pan with a layer of oil will come out brown, crisp, and deeply flavoured. Too many things cooked in the same pan, same time and the same oil will come out pale, soggy, and less flavourful. Same technique goes for roasted vegetables in oven tray. Piling ingredients on top of each other creates moisture that gets trapped which means your food will steam instead of crisping or browning.

KNOW YOUR OIL AND FAT

Butter is delicious but it can’t stand up to high heat, since the milk solids in it can burn. Neutral oils, like canola or vegetable oil, don’t add any flavour but are perfect for roasting, frying, and searing because they can stand up to high temperatures without burning.  High-quality olive oil, avocado oil or pumpkin seed oil are not good for high heat as they would burn.  However they are great for salad dressings and for finishing dishes once they’re cooked.

SEASONING 

You know our taste is based around sweet, sour, spicy, bitter, salty and a bit of umame.  For example, all food cultures use salt brings out flavour, which means good seasoning make food tasty. To really maximise all the flavours in a recipe, season with a bit of salt every time you add a new ingredient.

Vegan Cooking Master Class

Vegan Cooking Master Class

Explore vibrant spices, beautiful sauces, fresh vegetables, tofu and beans in vegan cooking. If Asian vegan dishes...

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Top 3 Tips To Cook Healthier

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Healthy eating goes beyond just consuming nutritious food. The way you prepare your food is equally important. If you had been eating out lesser and cooking at home more often, kudos to you!! That’s a great start to healthy eating! Now, let’s take a step further by using these tips to cook healthier meals at home!

Why is it important to have good sauces?

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It's always good to be a little saucy, especially when it comes to food! Sauces play an important role in maximising flavours, adding juiciness and improving the mouth feel of a dish. For instance, if you’re having a BBQ party at home, having a delicious sauce to slather over your BBQ meat will make a world of difference.

How to make Christmas lunches more enjoyable?

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#1 Menu tips

You might need to have the turkey or ham as your tradition. Everything else you can just keep it simple and work with our summer. You know Christmas foods are rich in protein, sugary in desserts and heavy in side dishes. That is the reason why everybody tired after lunch. So make something you know well, taste great and simple so everyone can enjoy. Ask family and friends to bring what their favourite dish so everyone can share and much less left over or prep-works for you. Here is the list we think you can include

Seafood with prawn, baked fish or other pickles with breads 
 can change it with nice dipping sauces

Two type of meats ~ you may already have the ham or turkey 
can do different by adding honey soy and ginger glaze

Great salad selection 
with Asian light salad such as Thai salad

Dumplings, rice, noodle, pasta or potato dishes

Traditional custard, brûlée or pavlova 
or just go with sticky rice and mango

Cheese plates or some grazing fruits 
at the end or how about some mocktails.

 

#2 Buying tips

You can do so much online for ideas and even get together some menu ideas. Write them down and get a list of recipes. You can sort out the ingredients beforehand.

 This process may lead to shopping online or find out where is the cheapest. For example you might be best to collect some prawns and pop them in the freezer as you know there is no fresh prawns! They all get defrosted from the supermarket. You know this time everyone put the prices up!

#3 Cook & chill tips

Chef are brilliant at planning ahead so nothing come at surprise for them and you can do that too. A week before you can start making your chutney, relish or sauce and pop in the jar then in the fridge. They last for few weeks and taste better and you don't have to do at last minutes.

The turkey and ham can be defrost if you bought them frozen few days before. Your oven space is limited so as he Christmas day go, pop them into the oven as soon as you get up. If the weather is going to be hot on the day, you might opt to cook turkey or glazed the ham the day before then served it cold.

Get your dessert sorted as the meats are in the oven so they can be cook or steam. Then you opt to make couple of side salad and starch dishes. Those can be cook and chill in the fridge as well. 

 

#3 Prep tips

Be time efficient with time so you can enjoy people company when they visit you. Make as many dishes ahead of time, whether it be a Christmas cake that will last if soaked in alcohol or mince tarts. 

If Champagne or Proseco jelly in a cup with fruit inside might appear to be a dessert trend this year then you can make a day or two before. Laddies and gentleman would love to help out so why dont you pop up some dumplings  for them do do so they feel they are part of your party.

 

# 4 Cook or reheat and serve

Being a good host these days always has antipasto or grazing platters. This can mean they can take photos with foods and move around the house and enjoy your company. A trend cooking party  that using platters with finger foods instead of large portion and sit down dinner. You might opt for a smaller canape size of foods mixing up with individual meat and salad bowls. 

All you have to do is cooking in smaller size portion so you ask your friends and familly members to help by cutting them up with uniform and small size. You can time it so there are platter then a serve up mixing style. As you don't have to set the table on the day. Cutlery and crockery your party can basically set that while you're waiting for their foods. 

 

#5 Leftover Tips

After a successful meal and everyone is spread across couches with food comas, the next task to tackle is packing up the leftovers. Use zip-lock bags and containers so guests can take home the delicious food. Ham can last for at least a week if stored in a cloth bag that take out the moisture. Another option is to organise a potluck barbecue with friends. Christmas Day is often with family, so on Boxing Day you can invite people with their favourite leftovers.

Dumpling Party

Dumpling Party

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Tips on How to Plan the Ultimate Surprise Party

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Guest list

As the host and creator of this delightful surprise, it is vital that you invite your honoree’s closest friends and family, and other guests that he/she was not expecting. The great thing about this is kids can join in too! Once your guest list is completed,  organise your guest RSVPs and collect deposits as soon as you know they’re coming, so that you can then easily secure your reservation. In the invitation, be sure to let all of your guests know that this is, in fact, a surprise and remind them to keep this a secret from the honoured guest. For an additional element of surprise, hide your guests in a back room or the dark, so when the birthday guy or gal arrives, they’re in for a great awakening! If you have a long guest list for the mystery dinner experience, it is essential to ask if they have any dietary restrictions or food allergies to prevent emergency trips to the doctors, allergic reactions or stomach aches.

 

Properly prep for the party

To properly prepare the perfect dishes, work with an OTAO kitchen chef to gain insight on how to complement the guest of honours pallet. Your personal OTAO chef can advise you to meal options from a healthy balance menu.
Quick tip: consider menu items such as the popular dumpling party or our Vietnamese cooking party, as guests can cook and prepare their own meals with the option of eliminating certain ingredients from a recipe.

 

Have fun

 
Upon arrival, walk your blindfolded guest into our cooking kitchen and remove their blindfold to reveal the excitement! Once the reveal is complete, let the cooking begin!


Allow your guests to choose their cooking partners or pull names out of a hat to keep the mystery element of the experience going! If you want to assign partners, consider pairing a more experienced chef with a novice, so everyone learns from one another. Matching a non-experienced chef with one with more cooking credibility can assist in building better relationships too! Interactive cooking is all about having fun while creating something new and learning new techniques that you can incorporate into your cooking repertoire.

 


After your exceptional and interactive cooking experience, keep the entertainment going by heading over to The National Hotel with your guests!


We hope that you found these tips and tricks useful in the party planning process. Consider OTAO for exceptional services and an experience that is one of a kind.


Book with us today to reserve a spot for your next birthday celebration!

The Social Cooking Party

The Social Cooking Party

Our cooking experience is a great way to bond people by cooking, eating and sharing great stories. Have a fun,...

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How to Cook the Perfect Steak

| 1 rating

With the huge variety of beef cuts available in the market, it is easy to be overwhelmed when it comes to choosing the right cut. For the most of us, we’ll end up purchasing the more popular cuts such as the rib-eye, sirloin, fillet or rump steak. However, it is important to note that each cut has a unique texture and flavour that suits certain cooking methods and recipes. With this infographic from BBC Good Food, you’ll get to know a thing or two about these popular cuts. There are a few tips and tricks on how to cook the perfect steak regardless of which cut you’ve purchased.

The Guide To a Canapé Party

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HOW MANY PIECES OF CANAPE TO MAKE OR TO ORDER FOR A PARTY

People often ask this question then wonder how much would be enough. It is commonsense on a party you are having. Best to know how long want the party to last and whether your guests come on time. It is best for 7-9 savoury and 2-3 sweet canapés per person for a standard 3-4 hour party where no other food is served. Each piece should be good for one or two bites.

If the party food is served pre and post a main sit down dinner then we would recommend for 3-4 pieces per person. This gives the guests a chance to kick off their appetite  but this amount won’t be enough before the main meal. After work functions, it would be best to serve 4-6 pieces as people tend to be bit hungry. It is always a good things to have some extra food in case your guests are very hungry. You or your staff will need to control the quantities and will slow down the service if needed.

 

WHAT FINGER FOODS TO SELECT FOR A PARTY

Quite often party organiser are keen to know who would be in the functions so they can cater to the mass. If you don't know well who is coming then It is best to choose a selection of canapé and ways to make them so you would please everyone. Popular items would be rice paper rolls, spring rolls, dumpling, sushi, tomato and mozzarella skewers, cocktail sausage, fish cake or vegetable tarts or even burgers and salmon blinis... The options are your choice however try to mix beef, chicken, fish, prawn, vegan and gluten free, dairy food and fodmap and other common dietary restrictions so you will make everyone happy. Most caterer or our chef would be able to help you to choose the menu.

SERVING CANAPE

You would need to decide whether you want to set up as in a station or have someone flow around to serve the foods. If you buy your finger foods from supermarket then you would need to find a solution of trays and utensils to serve the food out of the packaging. Catering companies like us would have these foods in the tray and even have staff to serve them for you. Please note the size and shape of the tray is important if you have limited spaces as it would be difficult to walk around for you and catering staff. Lastly think of user friendly finger foods items - sushi might not be easy to eat as it can get quite messy in a party.

MATCHING WINE WITH YOUR PARTY

We found the best wines are the ones that most your guests can enjoy. These wines are easy to drink, mainstream and non obtrusive. Choose a sparkling wine, decent soft red such as pinot, sauvignon blanc or rose. We think beverage selection should be palate cleansing properties and food compatibility. You can add on one or two easy cocktails if you have a caterer in or let the guests make cocktail themselves too.

Street Food of Asia

Street Food of Asia

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Duration 6.25 DAYS

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Tips for Cooking Family Meals At Home

| 0 rating

 

 

 

 

 

Dumpling Party

Dumpling Party

Do you love dumplings but don't know where to begin your Dumpling Party? This cooking class will take the mystery out...

Duration 2 Hours

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Duration 3 Hours

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Tips and Tricks For Cooking Beautiful Thai Food At Home

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How To Cook Thai Food Well?

How to cook Thai food well may start with finding good ingredients such as palm sugar, tamarind, fish sauce or chilli will make your Thai food taste beautifully. If you go to most Asian grocer , you might find most of the ingredients. This important ingredient purchase step means using freshly squeezed lime and proper Thai basil, which is available in good Asian grocers. Here are the market you should visit before you can cook Thai food well.

  • Queen Victoria Market
  • Richmond Asian Grocer on Victoria Street Richmond
  • Preston Market
  • South Melbourne Market
  • Spring Vale Market
  • Footcray Market
  • Sunshine Asian Grocer 
  • St Albans Grocers
  • Prahan Market

Cooking Thai Dinner For Friends and Family

Cooking for family and friends are natural steps for man of us. Quite often it can be stressful as you want to impress your loved ones. We encourage you to find a easy simple Thai recipes to cook so you can get a balance in your Thai cooking dinner. This includes choosing a variety of dishes for a meal, which should have a balance of salty, sweet, sour, bitter and hot as well as texture. 

 

Easy Thai Recipes

Easy Thai recipes may mean less stress at home and quite often the simple is the best policy in cooking at home. I always get asked - what is your favourite dish or favourite restaurant. The asnwer is a difficult one as I like plenty of variety in my everyday foods. To be fair we are one of very lucky nation on earth where we can get many choices at one. Try some classic Thai menu of all time - fish cake, Thai sauce, Thai chicken curry, Pad Thai or Thai Noodles, Thai Beef and Thai Dessert.

 

How To Make Thai Paste

To make a Thai Sauce it is best with mortar and pestle. If you an aspiring Thai cooks is to make pastes and even coconut cream, from scratch. It may take some time but a good curry paste for dinner for four people that's about two or three tablespoons of curry paste. It takes about 5 minutes to pound in a mortar and pestle. But it's buying the stuff that is time consuming. So we recomend you go freeze your thai paste. Making your own coconut milk makes a huge difference to the flavour as well if you can get a hold of fresh old coconut.

 How To Make Thai Sauce 

Thai sauce is an umami-bomb of salted and fermented anchovy can be overpowering on its own, but something very special happens with you combine it with lime juice and palm sugar. It's one of my go-to mixtures when you like something sweet-and-sour for most of your dishes.  The flavors will blend seamlessly into salad or meat. Or that's versatile enough to dress a salad, marinate a steak, and, yes, coat your dumplings.

 

How To Cook Pad Thai

Love pad Thai but don't know where to start? Then this recipe is for you! It's an authentic recipe from our Thai chef in Thailand. Pad Thai is one of the most universally popular stir fried noodle dishes in this whole wide world

 

Thai Cooking Classes

A visit to a Thai cooking school has become a must-do for many Thai chefs at home and for some visitors it is a highlight of their trip to Melbourne. A typical 3 hour course has an introduction to Thai ingredients and flavours, and a chance to prepare and cook three or four dishes. All lessons include a set of online recipes and end with a communal lunch consisting of your cooking.

Check out  Thai Cooking Class Master and Taste of Thai Cooking Class

Thai Cooking Master Class

Thai Cooking Master Class

Thai cooking classes showcase the amazing food of Thailand, stories of its people, culture and history. Join us to...

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Great Recipes For Hosting This Christmas

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A Christmas lunch with all the trimmings can be a daunting prospect for many home cooks, sending them into panic mode leading up closer to the 25th December lunch for their family. The idea of working over a baking oven might be less than appealing for many, as Australia starts heat up during Summer sun and your thoughts of visiting a pool while refresher. Take the stress out of Christmas Day and opt to make fresher, healthier and simpler affairs. However you choose to celebrate, the most important aspect is spending time with family, loved ones and friends.

Here’s a few ideas on how to have a great Christmas Lunch.

 

ENTREE

 

  • Selection of Seafood
  • Vietnamese Summer Rolls
  • Selection of BBQ skewers

 

 

MAIN

 

  • Cold Turkey Salad
  • Thai Beef Salad
  • Glazed Ham and Asian Apple Salad
  • Japanese Cold Soba Noodle 

 

 

DESSERT

  • Mango and Sticky Rice
  • Palova, Cream, Berries and Kiwi
  • Summer Fruit With Coconut 

Best of Melbourne Dumplings

| 1 rating
Dumpling Party

Dumpling Party

Do you love dumplings but don't know where to begin your Dumpling Party? This cooking class will take the mystery out...

Duration 2 Hours

From AUD $109 Book now

Seven Asian Desert You Must Try At Home

| 1 rating

Vietnamese Coffee Icecream

 

Sweetened condensed milk and a touch of spice set this caffeinated treat apart from other coffee ice creams.

see recipe here 

Thai Black Sticky Rice Pudding with Coconut Cream


Black sticky rice, which like wild rice is unhulled, makes a rustic rice pudding loaded with far more flavor and texture than usual. This version from chef Peerasri Montreeprasat at Sugar Club, a Thai grocery and cafe in New York, adds in cubes of nutty taro and is sweetened with palm sugar.



Team Building Cooking

Team Building Cooking

Take your team out for hands on cooking class inspired Asian Restaurants. The subtle variations by cuisines and the...

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Our Chef's Tips For Shopping

| 1 rating

As you might already know, we can waste a lot of food if we don't plan well. Groceries are one of our biggest expenses and you want to make sure you never short on food. Also, cooking your own food is much less expensive than eating out however you don't want to lose time and energy for unnecessary steps. 

Menu Planning

This is the best way to ensure that your list is complete and that you have enough to serve your family dinner for the week. We often plan a weekly menu and then duplicate it for the next week, this way we can shop for two weeks at once. Be sure to plan a leftovers night.

Shopping List

If you go without a list, you may as well just throw your money away. You need to prepare a list of everything you need, pulling from your weekly menu and check to make sure you don’t have it in your pantry, fridge or freezer. Make sure you’re not forgetting anything. Now stick to that list! If you can prepare your shopping list categories by aisle, it should save you time in the long run.

Have A Budget

If you want to stay within your budget, it’s best to know where you’re at. When you can see you’re going to go above, perhaps save the not-so-necessary item for the following week's shop. At home keep a list handy to write down things are low.

Shopping Time!

Eat something before you go so you're not tempted to buy things you don't need. The same applies to kids and teens. Hungry mouths can influence even the strongest willed parents. 

Buy a few things for quick easy lunches and snacks but don't lover do it and pack your own as they are so much cheaper.

Read labels as you might be surprised by unwanted ingredients in your meals.

Buy a mix of frozen and fresh veggies as it can be cheaper & convenient to make meals later in the week (as fresh veggies often don't last long).

Cut back on meats as they are expensive. Serve some vegetarian meals here and there - Thai vegetable curries or Chinese stir-fries are great.

Buy in bulk on things like sale items, toilet paper, long-life milk etc. so you won't need to run to the supermarket all the time. 

You can look for specials or use coupons for cheaper buys. Try the store brands as they can be more economical.

Avoid buying junk foods, sugary snacks and cereals as they cost more and contain fewer nutrients. Go for fruits, veggies and whole food items.

Shop around & compare major retailers as they alternate their specials. For example, Coles may do a drink special and the following week Woolworths will do the same. 

Know when your stores re-stock fruits, vegetables and meat as you will buy the freshest things - supermarkets work towards the weekend.

Cook in large batches and freeze so you can have some leftovers for dinner later in the week or early in the next.

Storage 

Ideally, the meat should be at the bottom of your fridge in a designated cold compartment. This way if anything leaks it won't drip onto any other raw items.

Vegetables need to be in the covered areas (eg veg crisper) otherwise they dry out quickly.

Use your freezer for meals that have been pre-prepared or for back up meat or seafood. Don't waste space with things like bulky packaging. Transfer items to ziplock bags or space-efficient containers.

You may want to invest in a deep freezer as it can hold a lot more pre-prepared meals.  

 

 

Asian Cooking Junior Online

Asian Cooking Junior Online

In this online cooking class for kids, we create a variety of recipes from different cuisines, showing your kid some...

Duration 4 DAYS

From AUD $49 Book now
Asian Vegan Cooking Online

Asian Vegan Cooking Online

In this online vegan cooking class, we bring you the best foods of Asia - using traditional techniques spanning many...

Duration 20+ Hours

From AUD $99 Book now
Asian Master Classes Online

Asian Master Classes Online

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Duration 1.5 Hours

From AUD $99 Book now
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Why Beans and Lentils Are The Best For Easy Meals?

| 1 rating

 

We are researching for the best beans and lentil recipes. You can do Indian curries, Thai inspired lentils and beans salads.

BEANS AND LENTILS FOR DINNER IDEA

For example, the cold lentil salad with cucumbers and olives is an amazing to try for dinner. This tasty dish has lentils, cucumbers, olives and mint tossed with a sherry vinaigrette. https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-cold-lentil-salad-with-cucumbers-and-olives-recipes-from-the-kitchn-205243  

BEANS AND LENTIL SOUP IDEA 

Another easy legume recipe with beans and lentil is lentil soups. You can make a pot of stew for your winter months. We really like the chicken lentil soup. It is easy and cheap! You may need some bacon, onion, celery, carrot, garlic and tomato purree. On the top of it you will need some chicken and chicken stock. To finish it off you might need to have some grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-chicken-lentil-soup-214900

BEANS AND LENTILS FOR VEGAN MEAL 

Lastly you can try to make a one plate for your vegan meal. By having other ingredients mixing with beans and lentil you can get a fabulous lunch or dinner. We would love to tell you to make wild rice bowl with red lentil curry and spinach. This dishes is feature on the kitchnn.com here https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-wild-rice-bowl-with-red-lentil-curry-and-spinach-223095. The author thinks that it is simple to make even though a long list of ingredients. You can always cook some of the item as part of your last night dinner to cut down the time.

Cooking beans and lentils are the best for your weekday meals. It is not only a cheap meal but studies have shown that it can help you to improve longevity as it is in Japanese and Mediterranean people. Otao kitchen offer Asian inspired cooking classes and it would be easy to recreate a recipes from one of our recipe collection minus the meats. https://otaokitchen.com.au/recipes/

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Vegan Cooking Master Class

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8 Sauces For Your Everyday Vietnamese Cooking

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#1 Fish sauce – Nuoc Mam

Fish sauce is the “must have” Vietnamese sauce when cooking our food, bring flavour and some protein. Fish sauce is made from fermenting anchovies and sea salt over a period of 1-1.5 year in ceramic jars. Fish sauce makers can pass 2 times from the mixture to get the premium and the second.  There are 30+ fish sauce brand in Melbourne and the brand we use Nam Ngu or Phu Quoc.

 

#2 Hoi sin

You might have this Vietnamese sauce at home. Hoi sin sauce is a thick, sweet Chinese barbecue sauce. This sauce is made from salted black beans, onions and garlic. Vietnamese cooking included the use of Hoi sin sauce as a table condiment and as marinade for meat, poultry and shellfish dishes.

 

#3 Chilli sauce – Tuong Ot

Chilli sauce is made of fresh pimentos, ground garlic, salt, sugar and vinegar. Quite often it add colour to make them red. There are few Vietnamese  sauce varieties. You might need to find out what you like. We like the once has not too much strong flavour and less sugar. Chilli sauce is used as a table condiment and for soups like pho and or dipping sauce for seafood dishes.

 

#4 Shrimp paste – Mam Tom

This amazing smell Vietnamese sauce from Shrimp is widely used as a dipping sauce, soup condiments or marinade in Northern Cuisine. It is fermented shrimps either processed or conserved in bottles.

 

#5 Soy Sauce – Xi Dau or Nuoc Tuong

Soy sauce is condiment made from fermented paste of boiled soybeans, roasted grain, brine. After fermentation the past is pressed to produce a liquid which the the soy sauce and remove the solid product that often feed animal. Soy sauce is often used in Vietnamese sauces, cooking and condiments. It has umami taste and naturally with glutamates. Many varieties of soy with different qualities and prices. Stick to Kikkoman as a known product and often you can get from major Australian supermarkets.

 

#6 Sesame Oil – Dau Hao

Sesame oil is an vegetable oil pressed from sesame seeds. The oil from the nutrient rich sesame seeds and often use for traditional medicine and massage treatment for years. It is used in food as high Omega 6 fatty acids. Sesame oil does have high smoking point so it is suitable for deep fry. Sesame oil is used also in Vietnamese cooking for flavour enhancer in salad or stir fry. With left over oil from deepfry or cooking, be careful with nature antioxidants present in the oil, you will need to keep the lid tight. This is not a Vietnamese sauce but we do use them generously in sauce making.

 

#7 Rice Vinegar – Dam gao

Rice vinegar is fermented product made from rice or rice wine in many Asian countries. A special Vietnamese rice vinegar is the spicy and sour giấm bỗng made from a specialty rice. The most notable place to make this specialty is Lang Van – a commune near Hanoi. This vinegar is used in soup such as Duck, Bun Rieu and Bun Oc. A similar vinegar in the South Vietnam Hoc Mon, Saigon. This is call “me” kind of similar to the North. This specialty is used in making dipping sauces.

 

#8 Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce is sauce made by cooking oysters. The most common in modern use is dark brown sauce made from sugar, salt and water thickened with cornstarch, flavoured with oyster essence and caramel. It is commonly used in Vietnamese foods to make sauce or marinade. 

Vietnamese Cooking Master Class

Vietnamese Cooking Master Class

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The Best and Easiest Way to Peel Ginger

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and it is one of the core ingredients in a lot of Asian recipes. But have you ever struggled trying to peel a ginger root with all of its bumps and lumps?

Ginger can be expensive, so you don’t want to waste any of the flesh. Knives and peelers can’t get into the lumps and bumps of a ginger root without you cutting some of the flesh away. But fear not! There is a super easy way to peel ginger. In this video you’ll see how the best and easiest way to peel ginger is with a spoon!

So how easy was that! Now that you know the best and easiest way to peel ginger, we are confident you’ll be the ginger peeling champion of your household.

Want to learn more cooking tips and tricks?

Come along to one of our hands on cooking classes where Chef Ha provides expert advice and cooking techniques. With his guidance you’ll learn how to make a range of Asian dishes that you can recreate at home and you’ll get to enjoy all the spoils of your creation during the class.

 

Our cooking classes are a wonderful activity to enjoy with your friends and family, and we hope to see you soon!

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The Best Fish Sauce For Home

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If you want to stock your kitchen with some good quality fish sauce then read on. Fish sauce makers buy anchovies from the fishing boats. Because of hot and humid weather in Southeast Asia, people learn to mix sea salt and fish to keep the fish in better condition or preserve them. They will be put into large vats and ferment for a long period – normally one year to three years. The resulting liquid, best fish sauces. It’s the backbone of many Asian cuisines. The Thai call it Nam Pla. The Vietnamese call it Nuoc Mam. The Philippines call it Patis. The Korean call it Aek Jeot. 

The Vietnamese use terms of protein (%) to indicate the quality of the fish sauce. Normally the higher the number the more money you will pay for them. They also work out the first press and the second press - similar to that of olive oils.  

Fish fermentation had been a practice for several thousand years ago in the freshwaters of Southwest China and the Mekong River region. It then spread to coastal deltas and was applied to ocean fish to many countries in Asia. 

The best fish sauces should have:

  • Tastes of best fish sauces are pure fish and sea salt and Fish should be the dominate flavour and salt. Nothing else!
  • Tastes of best fish sauces are with fish and the ocean, and not “fishy”
  • The colour of best fish sauce should be dark amber and not too coffee-like-colour
  • Tastes of best fish sauces can be sweetened naturally not from sugar or other additives

Brands of best fish sauce in Australia

  • Golden Boy - Thailand
  • Viet Huong - Hong Kong/Thailand
  • Three Crabs - Hong Kong/Thailand (same company with Viet Huong)
  • Red Boat 40°N and 50°N - Phu Quoc, Vietnam
  • MegaChef (30°N) - Thailand
  • Squid - Thailand
  • Ayam Fish Sauce - Malaysia
  • + many other brands if you go to Asian supermarkets

How to choose which bands?

  • Next time you’re shopping - read the labels. Check the country of origin, it’s often not what’s represented in the design.
  • But most importantly, check the ingredients. Ideally, you want to check % protein, %fish and %salt.
  • We use different brands over the years, these brands are okay but if you want to have a little premium - then pick Redboat around $12. They are 4 times more but they are more concentrated so you will use less. Other brands will dilute the fish sauce with water. 
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Thai Cooking Master Class

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Thai cooking classes showcase the amazing food of Thailand, stories of its people, culture and history. Join us to...

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Fresh produces at Farmer markets

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Hawthorn – Boroondara Farmers’ Market

When: 3rd and 5th Saturday of the month

Where: Patterson Reserve, Auburn Road, Hawthorn East (Melway 59 E4)

Time: 8am to 1pm

Cost: $2

Contact: 9278 4444

Join a dedicated group of farmers and locals who are passionate about fresh fruits, vegetables, organic produce, meats. Talk directly with the producers and support small Victorian producers. Bring your kids. The market is supported by the city of Boroondara and Melbourne Farmers Market 

http://www.boroondara.vic.gov.au/our-city/markets-restaurants/farmers-market

 

Carlton Farmers’ Market

When: 1st Saturday of each month

Where: Carlton Primary School, cnr Palmerston & Rathdowne Streets

Time: 8.00am – 1.00pm

Cost: Gold coin donation supports school projects.

Parking: Street parking available on Palmerston, Drummond, Rathdowne & Lygon Streets.

Carlton Farmers’ Market is a place for locals searching for a way to get closer to the source of their food. Carlton Farmers’s Market offer shoppers the unique opportunity to put faces to names of their favourite local producers, and to take home a basket of tasty, ethically grown groceries. More information Carlton Farmers’ Market

 

Collingwood Children’s Farm Farmers’ Market 

When: 2nd Saturday of each month

Where: St Heliers Street, Abbotsford

Time: 8.00am – 1.00pm

Cost: Gold coin donation supports projects at Collingwood Children’s Farm

Parking: St Heliers Street Carpark, visit the Abbotsford Convent.

Set in the pastoral oasis that is the Collingwood Children’s Farm and open the second Saturday of each month, this gourmand’s paradise offers a fleeting taste of country life in the heart of Abbotsford. More information Collingwood Children’s Farm or Melbourne Farmer Market

 

Gasworks Farmers’ Market

When: 3rd Saturday of each month

Where: Gasworks Parkland

Time: 8.00am – 1.00pm

Cost: Nil

Parking: Parking is still free, but limited, visit the City Of Port Phillip website.

If all you sell is raspberries (or olives, or rhubarb, or honey), then you’ve got to have a pretty strong passion for them. Every third Saturday of the month, enthusiasm for high quality local produce runs like electricity at this Port Melbourne arts space, and your tastebuds will feel it too.

Grab a fresh, crusty baguette from Alison, then stock up on seasonal produce and a treat or two for later (handmade chocolate biscuits, anyone?).

 

Slow Food Melbourne Farmers’ Market

When: 4th Saturday of each month

Where:  Abbotsford Convent, St Heliers Street, Abbotsford

Time: 8.00am – 1.00pm

Cost: Gold coin donation

Parking: St Heliers St Carpark, visit the Abbotsford Convent.

Beneath the grey spires of the historic Abbotsford Convent is a market that champions an era when you know the farmer who grew your potatoes, and when tomatoes tasted like real tomatoes.

Open the fourth Saturday of each month, seasonal, organic food is king here, and learning about the origins of your produce is half the fun. Pope Joan’s Matt Wilkinson can’t get enough of the Warialda sausages and Jim’s pork pies, and we fell hard for Take Me Home’s Gippsland-made gnocchi.

Visit Slow Food Melbourne Farmers’ Market website 

 

Gleadell Street Richmond

When: Every Saturday

Where: Gleadell Street Market, Gleadell Street, Richmond

Time: 7.00am – 1.00pm

Cost: Nil

Parking:Parking is still free, but limited,

Every Saturday, Richmond’s Gleadell Street is transformed into a bustling fresh food market, overflowing with seasonal fruits and vegetables, fresh bread, herbs, flowers and other gourmet delights. The original Richmond market opened in 1873 and the tradition of enthusiastic stallholders arriving as early as 2am to set up their stalls continues today.

http://www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/Events/Shopping-and-dining/markets/Gleadell-Street/.

Market Tour and Asian Cooking

Market Tour and Asian Cooking

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Best Vietnamese Dishes You Can Try On Victoria Street

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#1 Pho

Pho is a traditional Vietnamese soup, where thin strips of beef are ‘cooked’ in a hot, aromatic stock in the serving bowl – this keeps the meat meltingly tender. ...

Check out I love pho

#2 Banh my

Only Asian country that the French brought with them in: the baguette. The Vietnam takes it to a different level depending whether you are in the South or the North. In the north, you will have the basic elements of bread, meat and sauces. In the south you will have colourful combination of cold meets, pickled vegetables, sausage, fried egg, fresh coriander, fresh chilli and hot chilli sauce.

Check out Banh My Nhu Lan

#3 Bun Cha Hanoi

Vietnamese dish of grilled pork and noodle from Hanoi, Vietnam. Bún chả is served with grilled fatty pork over a plate of white rice noodle and herbs with a side dish of dipping sauce and pickles.

 

Check out Co Thu Quan

 

#4 Cha Gio - Fried Spring Rolls

Vietnam’s bite finger sized crunchy spring rolls is considered as less healthier fresh rice paper rolls, but we love those crispy shell with a soft veggie and seafood or meats. Great to dip them in nuoc cham and get the gastronomic flavour mixture. In Hanoi (north) we go by Nem Ran and in Saigon (south) we go by Cha Gio.

Check out Van Mai

#5 Bun Bo Hue - Hue Style Noodles

The emperor’s city of Hue (Central Vietnam) take on noodles caters to meat eaters with its meaty broth and generous beef and pork. The thick slippery rice noodles also compliment with the dish. You feel like hearty meal than white noodles in the Hanoi and Saigon.

Check out Co Co

#6 Goi Cuon - Fresh Rice Paper Rolls

These light and healthy fresh spring rolls are the best choice when you want the healthy foods in Melbourne. The translucent parcels are rolled with greens, some meat, seafood, mint, coriander. You can then dip them in the nuoc cham.

Check out Tho Tho

#7 Nom Hoa Chuoi - Banana Flower Salad

This Vietnam’s banana flower salad has a much bigger punch than a typical plate of mixed greens. Banana flowers’ layers are peeled and thinly sliced. The salad includes green papaya, carrots, mint and coriander along with tofu or chicken and a generous dipping sauce with lime juice and crunchy peanuts.

Check out Co Thu Quan

#8 Bo La Lot - Beef in Betel Leaf

Vietnamese are superior in wrapping their food. Bo la lot can be eaten raw, fried but when you cook them on an open grill to soften the exterior and this would infuse the betel leaf’s peppery aroma into the ground beef inside..

Check out Van mai

#9 Ca Tim Kho To - Eggplants in Claypot

One of more popular dishes is eggplant in a clay pot along with tomatoes, soy sauce, sugar and sometime minced meat. Try it with rice, you will like it as you will discover with Italian meat sauce.

Check out Van mai restaurant

#10 Com Suon Nuong - Pork Chops on Rice

You might think this simple Saigonese meal is equivalent of bun cha with rice in place of noodles. A tender pork cutlet is barbecued over hot coals to give it a rich, smoky flavour, some pickles or vegetable, cup of soup and laid over the steamed fluffy broken white rice.

Check out Ha Long

Vietnamese Cooking Master Class

Vietnamese Cooking Master Class

Join us and discover flavour of this fascinating Vietnamese food for its fresh, healthy style of cooking and eating....

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7 best things why cooking Vietnamese Foods

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Vietnamese food is admired for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of oil and an abundance of herbs and vegetables. Not only is Vietnamese cuisine bursting with amazing flavours, it is also very healthy. We pride ourselves on the quality of ingredients we provide you with and everything is sourced locally from within Victoria Street. OTAO is proud to support local business. We have a focus on fresh and exciting foods and flavours that we know you will fall in love with.

You will find that our classes and events offer you the best value for your time and money with the highest quality experience. But don’t take our word for it, here’s what our guests have to say:

OTAO Kitchen is a purpose-built Vietnamese cooking school located on Victoria Street, Richmond – Melbourne’s own little Saigon. Just minutes from the Melbourne CBD, Victoria Street is a hub of activity, sights and sounds. What better way to immerse yourself in an authentic Asian cooking experience!

We have hand-picked the best regional and popular Vietnamese recipes for you to create, which your chef will teach you to cook step-by-step during your cooking class. You will get to enjoy all the dishes you cook during the class, while sharing stories, travel adventures and good times.

Our cooking classes are delivered in a small and intimate group environment, ensuring you have plenty of one-on-one time with your chef and a supportive and enjoyable cooking experience. Our cooking classes are a wonderful way for you to meet like-minded foodies and new friends, and to learn healthy recipes and cooking skills. We provide you with all equipment, utensils and food ingredients so all you have to do is turn up!

Vietnamese Cooking Master Class

Vietnamese Cooking Master Class

Join us and discover flavour of this fascinating Vietnamese food for its fresh, healthy style of cooking and eating....

Duration 3 Hours

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Cooking the Foods of Vietnam

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Traditional and modern Food of Vietnam is admired for its freshest ingredients, minimal use of oil, and accompaniment of herbs and vegetables. With the balance between fresh herbs and meats and a selective use of spices to reach a refined taste, Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest cuisines.