Television chefs, old wives’ tales, your mum. Cooking myths come from many sources. Everyone has an opinion and they want you to hear it.
The idea that searing meat will help lock in the juices, or that salt will help your water boil faster are so common they’re not even interesting anymore. Other myths are downright ridiculous, like the idea that throwing spaghetti against the wall will determine if it’s cooked.
In the Instagram age, where everyone’s an expert and cooking shows are prime time viewing, it’s hard to sort the fact from the fiction. So we’ve gathered our pros together to debunk some of the more plausible cooking myths that we might otherwise blindly accept as fact. Bon appetit!
MYTH: You should never cook truffles.
It’s true that you shouldn’t cook white truffles because the flavour is so intense and delicate. As soon as they hit the heat, the flavour peaks up and then goes straight back down. You can warm them for up to maybe ten seconds, but they should really just be shaved on top of a dish. The black ones, however, such as Black Perigord or Australian, can be cooked. Not too much, but you can definitely make a sauce or a terrine with them. The flavour changes into something a little milder and earthy when they’re cooked, which is equally as delicious as when they’re shaved.
-Daniel Calvert, BELON
MYTH: Your pasta water should be as salty as the ocean.
This isn’t entirely false. I like to have properly seasoned water, about 8-12 grams of salt per litre of water to give it a little extra kick. However, you should always adjust depending on what you are making. When you cook the pasta you should cook it ⅔ in salted water, and the last ⅓ in the pan with the sauce. The pasta will first absorb the seasoning from the salt water and then the flavours of the sauce. Oh, and never rinse your pasta under cold water after boiling, that is blasphemy! Your pasta should go straight from the water to the saucepan for the best result.
-Luca Marinelli, Osteria Marzia
MYTH: You should always sift flour when baking.
I think it’s an old wives tale that you need to sift flour. I don’t sift any all purpose flour, bread flour or cake flour because it’s a waste of time. The only time you need to sift flour is If it’s humid, water drops into your flour or your bowl is not cleaned properly. Then you should sift the flour to get the lumps out. I do always sift almond flour, icing sugar and baking soda, though, because they naturally lump up and what we want is a finer product that folds in nicely with the other ingredients.
-Safia Osman, The Bakery
MYTH: You should always wash your rice before cooking it.
Cooking rice for family meal was the first thing I ever learned how to do in the kitchen when I was a kid. My parents gave me that responsibly because they thought it was straightforward. I thought: ‘how hard can it be to operate a rice cooker?’ But as with anything ‘simple’, there are always nuances one must be aware of to get it right. And one of those details is washing your rice before cooking it. Why? Rinsing your rice will rid it of surface starches. It will prevent it from clumping and turning into mush from excess starch being released during the cooking process. But is there a reason not to wash your rice? Sure, If you’re making a creamy rice dish like a risotto or congee, it’s really not necessary.
-Steve Nguyen, Chôm Chôm
MYTH: Canned produce is always worse than fresh produce.
There are a lot of benefits of canned food, and often they can stand side by side with fresh ingredients. Canned fruits and vegetables are picked at their peak freshness, ensuring the best flavour and nutrient quality. That’s right, canned food can be just as nutritious as fresh and frozen foods, because the amount of minerals, fat-soluble vitamins, protein, fat and carbs remains pretty much unchanged by the process of canning. However, because the process requires high heat, canned goods may have less water soluble vitamins.
-Luke Barry, Motorino