Use your senses to become a better cook

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Using a thermometer to gauge the doneness of food has become commonplace. While that level of precision is welcome, sometimes you must rely on your senses to determine when to pull that pie out of the oven or turn down the heat on the skillet. Paying attention to the sights, sounds, and smells of cooking is vital, says Julia Moskin of The New York Times

Author and pie wizard Kate McDermott uses audio signals to clue her in to the perfectly baked pie. She describes the sounds as  “the sizzle-whump”. The sizzle refers to the sound of the butter cooking flour in the curst, while the whump is the noise of the filling bumping up against the crust. McDermott calls the sounds “the heartbeat of the pie”.

Some people must rely on sounds and smells more than visual clues. That’s the case for Christine Ha, who is visually impaired. She didn’t let that obstacle stop her from winning Season 3 of the US version of MasterChef. When making deep fried spring rolls, she has to use audible and tactile sensory clues to let her know how pliable the wrappers are and when the oil is ready. 

Some chefs take the sensory experience out of the kitchen and into the dining room. Pioneering chefs like Heston Blumenthal and Grant Achatz use sounds and smells to enhance the dining experience. Blumenthal has been known to provide headphones to diners so they could listen to his dish Sound of the Sea while they ate it. 

Even if you aren’t visually impaired or don’t want your dining guests to don headphones, using all of your senses can improve your cooking. Learning the sights, sounds, aromas, and textures of food will help you achieve better results. 

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