9 Common Cooking Disasters And How You Can Quickly Fix Them

Whether you're an amateur or professional cook, there's no avoiding some cooking disasters. Why? Simply because you're human! Making a mistake in the recipe shouldn't dissuade you from making that delicious meal. There are tips and tricks that can help you fix the situation regardless of its nature. In this article, we have compiled 9 such cooking disasters and the easiest remedies for them.

By Cookist
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Rice is one of the easiest meals to prepare right? Well, not always. It can come out overcooked and mushy. And what about baking a cake? Easy to follow a recipe, right? But, what do you do when you forget to line the pan with parchment paper?

These might sound like simple things but we all know how frustrating they can be. So, here we have 9 such common disasters and how to fix them:

DISASTER 1: You've overcooked your vegetables

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One of the best things to enjoy about vegetables is the fresh crunch they pack. When you lose that crunch, the vegetables become unappetizing.

It is difficult to save mushy vegetables but that doesn't mean you should throw them out. Try making a few new recipes instead. For example, you could make a vegetable puree, delicious creamed veggies, or even vegetable bouillon cubes!

DISASTER 2: You burnt your meat

You can't cook meat perfectly every time without a meat thermometer. But, if you do happen to burn the meat, experts advise serving the best parts of the meat and then use the burnt areas to add a dark, smoky flavour to sauces.

If you cooked it with the skin on, simply pull off the skin and discard it. You'll not only be hiding the fact that you burnt the meat, you'll also be getting rid of the potentially harmful carcinogens found in charred meats. Alternatively, you can slice off the burnt areas and then cover the rest with any sauce.

DISASTER 3: Your cake is stuck to the baking pan

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There is nothing more frustrating than find that you forgot to line your baking pan with parchment paper or at least butter to facilitate easy removal of the final product. But, don't fret too much. An easy way to fix this is by placing the cake (still inside the pan) in a freezer.

Let the cake cool down to room temperature, then cover it in plastic wrap and freeze it for 6 hours to a day. Remove it and run a butter knife around the sides. Then insert two forks at opposite ends and, using them as levers, nudge the cake upwards. Do this around all sides of the whole cake. Finally, invert your pan and tap one edge at a 45-degree angle on a board.

DISASTER 4: Your soup, sauce or gravy has oil film floating on its surface

Oil is an important ingredient in most soups, sauces and gravies but not when it's floating around on the surface. Not only does it produce an unappetizing taste, it is not very good for your health.

The easiest way to remove such floating oil film is to add some ice cubes to the sauce. Stir the cubes into the pot and the fat will adhere to them. But, you must be quick enough so that the ice doesn't melt into the dish. Here are some other alternative methods you can use:

During cooking, you can place a lettuce leaf on the top of the soup and remove it when it's covered in fat.
Tear a paper towel into strips and drag the strips across the top of a soup or sauce, one at a time, to absorb fat floating on the surface.
If you're not in a hurry, refrigerate the sauce or soup overnight, so the fat rises and settles at the top. Then use plastic wrap to skim the fat off the top

DISASTER 5: Your cream or butter sauce starts to clump up

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Proteins in dairy-based sauces can begin to curdle at high temperatures. If you notice this soon enough, then an ice bath is the quickest fix. Simply remove the curdled sauce from heat immediately and place the pan in an ice bath to completely stop the cooking process. You may add an ice cube to the sauce as well if it won't become too diluted.

This quick cooling should help bring the sauce back together but it won't work if the sauce has already cooked for too long. In that case, you need to start heating your dairy base in a separate pan and slowly add in your curdled sauce while whisking vigorously. You could also add cornstarch paste to stabilize the sauce, but that will affect the flavour so it's best to skip that unless it's absolutely necessary.

DISASTER 6: You overcooked your rice

A rice cooker is a good investment if you eat rice frequently as it can prevent the rice from going mushy. When that happens and the rice is just sticky and the grain hasn't split, experts recommend rinsing it in cold water in a colander, and separating the rice with your fingers.

Another easy fix is to simply use the mushy rice to make fried rice! Pour the rice into a pan with your favourite vegetables, eggs, some soy sauce, and voila, a sumptuous meal!

DISASTER 7: You over-beat your egg whites

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It can happen all too easily when you take your eyes off the mixer for a few seconds. Fortunately, there is also a fix that's just as easy to do.

Once you observe that you've overmixed the egg whites, simply add another unbeaten white (one for every two over-whisked whites), continuing just until a smooth consistency returns.

DISASTER 8: You added too much salt to the food

The best remedy for salty food is to simply re-adjust portions so the salt is balanced. So if it's salty soup or stew, remove some of the liquid and add fresh, unsalted broth or stock. Similarly, for salty pasta or rice, remove some and add in unsalted bits.

Some experts also recommend adding a little sugar or vinegar to a salty dish to balance the flavour profile.

DISASTER 9: The dish is too spicy

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The best way to neutralise spicy flavours is to add dairy. That's because milk contains casein, a compound that bonds with the capsaicin in peppers and helps dissipate it.

So, next time you discover that you added one too many chillies to your dish, stir in a few spoonfuls of yoghurt or sour cream. Other substitutes for dairy in this food hack are nut butter or creamy avocado.

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