Top Ten Tips from Ivan Pahk

‘Aipono Chef of the Year:

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1.    I teach this in my monthly sushi class: Wash your uncooked rice thoroughly, then drain, and dry in the refrigerator. You get a much better result.

2.    This is a good trick—I do it all the time. When buying a baguette, the best way to get it crunchy again is by splashing it with water and putting it in the oven for ten minutes at 350°. Do not preheat.

3.    Never let tap water touch ‘ahi. The chemicals burn the meat, even if the water’s been filtered. We don’t do this in our restaurants; don’t do it at home.

4.    Always leave osso bucco and other braised meats in their juices when cooling. Some people take the meat out for fear of overcooking. But this just makes it dry.

5.    Always brine lean meats like duck, turkey, and chicken breast. At Sansei, we even brine our shrimp. Not so much for flavor, the salt-sugar solution helps add extra moisture.

6.    Think “hot pan, cold oil”—this prevents food from sticking, and makes cleanup easier. Or cook with Teflon.

7.    Don’t refrigerate tomatoes at all. They stop ripening and go bad faster.

8.    Anytime you cook with sake, bring it to a boil and then flame it to make sure the alcohol burns out. Don’t over-reduce—the sake will evaporate and turn bitter.

9.    Put a little peanut butter in your sauce if it tastes bitter. I do this a lot when making Thai curry and enchilada sauce.

10.    Use a little salt and pepper. It brings out the natural flavor in your food.

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