Sussanna Ngodoo Jacob
Culinary is an art, it is very much like painting. Just like a painter uses different brushes for different strokes on a canvass in order to come up with a desired effect, so are cooking techniques or methods in culinary. Cooking techniques and food presentation are some of the basic art of culinary. Using different cooking techniques for individual foods is one way to take the art of culinary to perfection and all of these become better with knowledge and practice.
Cooking techniques or methods are basically the different ways food is cooked.
Typically, different foods require different cooking techniques in order to gain good nutrients. Therefore, to achieve the finest texture and nutrients value from cooked vegetables one must master the suitable techniques.
There are many types of vegetables, the leafy vegetables, roots and tuber vegetables. All of these require unique cooking techniques. With the right techniques you will cook the vegetables essentially in its juice with only partial heat to preserve nutrients as high cooking temperatures would usually destroy most of the nutrients in vegetables, especially vitamin C, folate, and potassium. This is why it is a great idea to incorporate raw veggies in your regular diet routine to help you shore-up on nutrients.
Below are a few cooking techniques that are great for vegetables whether leafy or root vegetables: steaming, sauté or stir-frying.
Steaming: Steaming is simply cooking food in an enclosed environment infused with steam. Steaming cooks and seals in flavour, eliminating the need for added fats during preparation. It also preserves nutrients better than any other cooking method, which is why it is my favorite. For me food is about replenishing the cell, and cells can only be replenished with nutrients.
Steaming is a great way to retain nutrients in cooked foods.
Steaming can be a challenge for people who do not own a steamer, but you can improvise with a colander.
Colander method: place vegetable in a stainless-steel colander that has a stand (do not use plastic in this process, plastic will leach out toxins in to the vegetables), put it in boiling water, cover pot lid for about 1-2 minutes and that should suffice. For tougher vegetables like carrots, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower and others, you can use the same method, but give it a few more minutes to ensure vegetables are cooked soft and nice.
Simple steaming tips
You could also stir fry or sauté. Stir frying is amongst the healthiest ways of cooking some vegetables and certainly the most delicious in my opinion. With this method you get to combine assorted vegetables, herbs and sauces, which present your palate with different flavors and textures. Stir frying ensures that food is cooked quickly and also retains much nutrients and appealing appearance. Sautéing is similar to stir frying, except for the brisk tossing and turning applied in the stir-frying method. Sauté involves less frying; it will cook the vegetables and still retain some nutrients.
For Tuber Vegetables I prefer to grill or bake because it allows me to cook the tuber or potato in its juice without additional water. And I also leave the peel on to lock in nutrients and for added flavor.