Sight, aroma, taste, feel and sound all contribute to the eating experience — we smell food before we see or taste it, and sometimes we even hear it being cooked, these ignites our senses.
We cook with our senses, and we have six of them, all of them critical, the sixth most of all. Taste is the common mantra among chefs: “Always be tasty to the buds.” Enough richness, enough depth, enough seasoning, and enough acidity these all factors we need to consider. We need to tune it like a guitar!!
But often overlooked as a fundamental cooking sense is hearing. For an example, throw chopped garlic into a hot oil pan, your sense of hearing triggers and your sense of smell can tell you when it has infused in the oil, smells garlicky and it’s time to follow the other ingredients. But more important is imagined sight. What you expect to see should be a part of the cooking process. Touch is essential, a sense to call attention. We touch bread dough to know how thick it is. We press down on steak to intuit how done it is on the inside (will be posting in my next post in detail). We touch the top of fish to know how well it is done.
Cooking brings all the senses in to our play ground of kitchen:
- Sight in the recognition of commodities and the eye appeal in the presentation of dishes.
- Smell in the freshness of food and identifying the various cooking smells.
- Taste an important field and one allied to smell, testing for flavour and the use of seasoning agents.
- Touch, the use of hands in sampling or testing of food for freshness, texture and other factors.
- Hearing in communications and listening to food being cooked, recognition if the food in cooking too fast or slow.
- Kinaesthesia is the sixth sense. A general term involving the co-ordination of sense in performing a task. The know and the recognition on an unconscious level, this being achieved by proficiency. Cookery brings all the senses into play. Most chefs have highly developed senses particularly of smell, tastes and touch with in a built- in sixth sense,that of Kinaesthesia.
All of these five senses — taste, touch, hearing, sight, and smell — lead to the most important sense of all. But the sixth sense: bit more on explanation is common sense!! This cannot be written into a recipe. You can’t Google the common sense for a recipe!! But it’s critical in good cooking and often lacking in the home kitchen.
This is what missing in my sweet heart Sibil while cooking at home. A five minute job will be dragged to a five hour marathon. (Soon I can get ready my second tent in my garden – From my old post “A home alone recipe!!“)
Our world is better when we cook for the people we love. Our bodies are healthier, our families are healthier, our communities are healthier, and our environment is healthier. That’s the sense I love most about cooking.
Stir fried soya chunks
Soya chunks are a defatted soy flour product, a by-product of extracting soybean oil. It is often used as a meat analogue or meat extender. One time I introduced this to a buffet menu in one of the hotels I worked. An aggressive vegetarian lady turned up with a piled pate of soya and claimed she had beef on a misguided food tag. Standing next to those sharp carving knives I thought it’s going to be the last day in my life. I forget all the six senses explained above. And the seventh sense called in me Helpppp…. It took an hour for me to convince her it’s vegetarian.
Preparation time – 20 minutes
Cooking time – 20 minutes
Soya chunks – 50 grams
Oil for frying
For the batter
Corn flour – 2 tbsp
Plain flour – 1 tbsp
kashmiri chilli powder or mild paprika – ½ tsp
Ground black pepper powder – ½ tsp
Garlic and ginger paste – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Vinegar – 1 tbsp
Water – 3 tbsp
For the sauce
Vegetable oil – 2 tbsp
1 green chilli (to taste)
Garlic finely chopped – 5 cloves
Ginger finely chopped – ½”
Green, red and yellow pepper diced – 1 cup
Onion diced – ½ a cup
1 tbsp chilli garlic sauce
3 tbsp soya sauce
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp corn flour mixed with 2 tsp of water
Salt to taste
- Soak the soya in water for 15 minutes
- Wash, strain and squeeze out the water from soya and keep aside in a bowl.
- Heat oil in a wide sauce pan. In a mixing bowl add the corn flour, plain flour, chilli powder, black pepper and ginger garlic paste along with the salt. Add the vinegar and water; mix to make a thick batter. Add the soya chunks to it and mix well coating all the pieces with the batter.
- Fry the soya chunks in the hot oil in batches for 1-2 minutes. They should have a slight colour all over. Drain the soya on kitchen paper and set aside.
To make the sauce.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a wok on a medium heat.
- Add the green chilli, chopped garlic and chopped ginger.
- Fry for 10 seconds and add the peppers along with the red onions. Sauté for 1-2minutes until they begin to soften.
- Add the chilli garlic sauce, tomato ketchup and the soya sauce & stir well.
- Add the water and bring to a boil and simmer for a 1minute on a low heat.
- Add the corn flour water mix, season to taste and simmer for a further 2 minutes as it begins to thicken.add the fried soya and mix
- Your stir fried soya chunks is ready to serve with either rice or noodles.