Become a Chef at Home with Chef Ping

October 28, 2021

Image: Become a Chef at Home - Chef Ping | CI Talks

In this New Normal, many of us have been working from home. This has changed our lifestyles significantly. A lot of people have taken up cooking but some are not quite sure how to do it.

Chef Ping Surakit Khemkaew

Executive Chef

Hello, I am Ping, Surakit Khemkaew, an executive chef and restaurant consultant. Today on CI Talks, I will share my experience of over 10 years as a chef and also some ideas for those who want to enjoy cooking.

Become a Chef at Home

Today, I am cooking a dish that works well with the New Normal, and that is rice soup porridge. It can be kept for a few days and the soup stock can be used to fry, or to create other dishes. The rice can also later be fried or used in other menus. OK, let's start!

Rice Soup with Pork Ribs and Mushrooms

Start by blending coriander roots, garlic and pepper together in a mortar. One teaspoon of pepper. 2-3 coriander roots. 2-3 cloves of garlic.

Pound coarsely and divide the mixture into two parts. One is for frying with rice while the other is for the soup.

To make the soup, I put some salt into the water. I only want salt to give out a standard or a very basic taste. Then put in a little sugar. Sugar will help balance the sweetness of shiitake mushrooms, pork ribs, and salt. They go well together. Then, put in shitake mushrooms followed by pork ribs.

Simmer on a medium heat for thirty minutes to one hour. This is to tenderise the ribs.

How My Culinary Journey Began

It all began when I signed up to a cooking course; similar to other chefs out there. I started from scratch. No basics. No restaurant of my own. And no connection.

My turning point came whilst I was still attending the course. I came across an advert to enter a cooking contest and this piqued my interest. A friend of mine on the same course came to me and suggested that we both enter the competition. Oh man, it was the moment. I was so passionate and eager. Let's do it!

That first contest I entered with my friend, we both got the same number of medals. Since then, I have been in many contests. I have also gone through various stages of change as a chef. I met Chef Chumpol and I wanted to learn from him, even to have the opportunity to work with him.

Chef Chumpol invited me to work at Cielo, as Executive Chef. This was another turning point; taking that step forward to becoming an executive chef. The experience of cooking a lot of dishes, and learning many cooking techniques, has allowed me to really advance as a chef.

A Passion for Cooking

For over 10 years, I've been with food all along. I've never been bored. There are always things to learn in the world of cooking.

Food is like maths. A dish, to me, is a math problem. When I'm done cooking a dish, I'm also done solving a math problem. Cooking new stuff is like solving new math problems. The answer to every problem is taste. When I compare the two, I like them both. Be it maths or food. I've always been quite good at both of them.

The Answer to Every Cooking Question is Taste

… In another pot, we will stir fry rice, coriander roots, garlic, pepper with oil. Put in a fair amount of oil. After putting in the fragrant rice, pour water just to cover the rice. The heat will help speed up the cooking of rice. Keep on stirring until the rice is cooked. This is how to cook rice without draining water. You can add some salt to flavor the rice.

Now you see. The rice is beginning to cook. Pour in some soup and continue to stir. After 4 to 5 minutes, it should be ready. Lastly, sprinkle with coriander. This is all up to your taste. I personally like coriander, so I put in a fair amount.

Here we go. Here is my own style of Khao Tom Moo (Thai rice soup with pork).

If you have leftover soup, you can store it in a zip-lock bag, but do wait for it to cool first.. Then both of these can go into the freezer. Another food idea for this New Normal.

The Basics: 5 Things To Know Before You Start Cooking

For those of you who think that cooking is difficult. I have 5 takeaways to help make your culinary journey easier.

1. Know Your Cooking Equipment

First, you need to know your equipment; electrical appliances, stoves, or basic tools at home.

For instance, if you only have a stove, it's easy to make stir-fry, soup and curry dishes. But if you want to bake or roast pork or beef without an oven, you can still use a pan. It all depends. But you need to understand your basic equipment and know how to use it.

For sure, every house has a pan. So stir-fried, fried and roasted dishes are the easiest. But you can still use different cooking techniques.

2. Create A Meal Plan

Second is about shopping for ingredients. There are two ways.

One is shopping with a menu plan in mind. You just need a piece of paper and list all the ingredients. Creating a list of ingredients saves time and money because when you know what to buy, you will go to the right place to get everything you need at once.

Another way is when you don't know what to cook. Just go and buy the things you want to eat. Because they are what you like, you'll finish them all. The challenge you will have is how to cook with these ingredients. There are 3 types; proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Stick to these three food groups.

But there is a downside to the second way though. There may be times when you are just about to start cooking and suddenly realize that you don't have all the ingredients. Not fun because won’t be able to cook the dish you like. So be careful.

I suggest you plan ahead. It saves time and money.

3. Choose The Right Menu

Third, choose the right menu for the situation. For example, easy-to-cook menus are great for the New Normal. Stir-fried meat with holy basil (Pad Krapow) is a classic that requires only stir-frying. Clear soup broths are also another easy menu. I used to cook a lot of this as well.

For stir-fried holy basil with meat, you cook it once in a large pan and, after it cools down, divide it into 5-7 portions. Then you can have that for 7 days. This is a great solution when it's difficult to go out or you're tired after work. It's also a nice, easy menu when staying home.

4. Food Storage and Preservation at Home

Fourth, know how to store food safely and so it lasts longer. This is as important as the rest.

When you buy a lot of ingredients, divide them into portions and freeze them. Defrost the ingredients before you want to use them. Then they will be fresh again. This means that you can buy more ingredients and extend their shelf life.

However, there is a trade-off when cooking with frozen food; it can taste dry. Frozen food loses its moisture. When we take food out of the freezer to cook, meat especially can be quite dry.

Fermenting and pickling can also help to preserve the food. Salting and pickling can be used instead of freezing. When food is salted or pickled, it prevents harmful bacteria from growing and is the traditional way to keep perishable food longer.

Greens (vegetables) can normally be kept for up to three days. If you wrap them in foil though before you put the vegetables in your fridge, it helps to control the temperature and prevent frost damage from the fridge. By doing this you can keep vegetables fresh and edible for up to 5 days. This is another technique to preserve food ingredients.

5. Keep Your Kitchen Clean

Fifth is about keeping your kitchen and workspace clean. Actually every chef emphasizes the importance of this point. Cleanliness affects the food. If the food is not clean, it won't last and can also become harmful to our health.

If your kitchen and workspace is not clean, your food can become contaminated with harmful bacteria and dangerous to consume. Contaminated food can cause diarrhea and other serious medical conditions and ailments.

In this New Normal, I want everyone to keep clean. Cleanliness is crucial in cooking.

Chef Ping's 5 Key Takeaways

  1. Know Your Cooking Equipment
  2. Create A Meal Plan
  3. Choose The Right Menu
  4. Food Storage and Preservation at Home
  5. Keeping Your Kitchen Clean

I hope that my 5 key takeaways that I have shared today will help motivate you while you are working from home, to get interested in cooking. If you've tried your hand at cooking but the outcome wasn’t successful, I hope that my video talk will inspire you to get better at it so that you can enjoy cooking everyday.

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