Chef Secrets: 10 Simple Tips For Perfect Eggs, Pasta & Rice

by Travelling Peach

1. USE SUGAR, NOT SALT, TO STABOLISE EGG WHITES 
Recommended by:
Amandine Chaignot. Executive Chef The Mirror Room restaurant in Rosewood London Hotel.
Amandine says ‘When whipping egg whites, for meringues, soufflés, omelets or anything else, most people tell you to add a little salt (even my mum used to tell me that!) but actually it doesn’t do anything; what does work is sugar. As the sugar melts, it gives the egg whites a much better, more stable texture. They’ll start to resemble a soft meringue and will last longer too.’


2. PERFECTLY FLUFFY WHITE RICE
Recommended by:
Asharaf Valappil. Head Chef at Dawaat restaurant, The Strand Palace Hotel
Asharaf says ‘For perfectly fluffy rice, soak it in clear water for 20mins before cooking, then rinse well. Put the soaked rice in a saucepan with clear water ready for boiling (approx. 2inches higher than the rice). Cover and cook until most of the water has evaporated. Then stir the rice and cover with the lid. Cook over a slow flame for 5-6mins, then switch off the heat. It should take no longer than 20mins.’ 

‘If you fancy something a little bit tastier, try flavouring your rice with stick of cinnamon, cloves and green cardamom. It makes a big difference. Sometimes I use mint and other flavours too because my son loves them.’


… And Chef Arup Dasgupta agrees. He says
Cooking rice is the simplest and easiest thing to get right but many people still struggle. Instead of soaking the rice in cold water for a long period of time, try soaking it in hot water for a shorter period of time. Perfect!’


3. AUTHENTIC ITALIAN PASTA 
Recommended by:
Francesco Mazzei. Chef Patron at Sartoria restaurant, Mayfair 
Francesco says ‘Don’t put olive oil in pasta dough (or in the pasta water) and don’t blitz the dough in the mixing machine. So many chefs do it and it’s wrong. Pasta needs to be made by hand because it needs to move. You shouldn’t put olive oil in the pasta or pasta water either because, basically, you’re adding fat for no reason.’

‘Everybody used to tell me that you should mix your pasta dough for a long time and use the whole egg. Then, one day I realised that the secret to beautifully rich and al denté pasta is to only use the egg yolks and, if possible, only eggs from corn fed chicks as that ensures that the pasta is a healthy yellow colour’ says Chef Simone Zanoni.


4. FLAVOURING PASTA
Recommended by:
Francesco Mazzei. Chef Patron at Sartoria restaurant, Mayfair
Francesco says ‘Keep your pasta simple. You don’t need to use lots of ingredients, or expensive ones, but if you opt for seasonality, freshness and flavour, and use the right ingredients, you’ll have the most amazing bowl of pasta in the world.’

‘Plain pasta is always the best so I wouldn’t make flavoured pasta (e.g. spinach tagliatelli). Instead, try making the most amazing sheets of plain pasta in the world, then stuff it with spinach and ricotta, or a delicious tomato sauce. It’s far fess time-consuming and the flavour will be so tasty.’



... And Chef Simone Zanoni agrees. He says ‘My ultimate comort food is Spaghetti Pomodoro. It’s so simple but really sums up the meaning of Italian food. The best time to make it is in the summer when the tomatoes are in season and beautiful. There’s a market 5mins away from where I live – a beautiful market – so you can buy little cherry tomatoes from Sicily (South Italy) where they’re so sweet and juicy that they almost taste like honey. You only need 5 ingredients: olive oil, garlic, basil, spaghetti and tomatoes so it’s very easy but, mixed together with magic, they just taste amazing… and you have al denté spaghetti topped with a little bit of parmesan. For me, its just ‘Wow! Fantastic!’’ 


5. SPANISH RICE FULL OF FLAVOUR
Recommended by:
Sergio Sanz Blanco. Executive Chef at Ametsa restaurant with Arzac Instruction in COMO The Halkin Hotel, London 
Sergio says ‘To infuse your rice with as much flavour as possible, always pre-cook it and finish it on the day you want to eat it. For example, chicken rice, mix the raw chicken and rice the day before, ready to cook, so that the rice has time to absorb the flavour. Then cook the chicken and the rice together in the same pan. The same applies to vegetables. Trust me, the rice will be so much tastier.’


6. PERFECTLY FIRM (BUT NOT WATERY!) POACHED EGGS
Recommended by:
Sergio Sanz Blanco. Executive Chef at Ametsa restaurant with Arzac Instruction in COMO The Halkin Hotel, London 
Sergio says ‘Instead of poaching or boiling an egg, the best way is to wrap the raw egg (shelled) into a ball inside cling film, twist, knot and seal the end. Then cook it in boiling water with a little vinegar for 4-5 minutes. Leave to cool for 1min before unwrapping. Perfect!’


7.  CHILEAN RICE FULL OF FLAVOUR
Recommended by:
Francisco Hernandez. Executive Sous Chef at Kaspar’s Seafood Bar & Grill, The Savoy Hotel London
Francisco saysMost people boil their rice, especially in England, which whilst correct is also boring. This recipe works magic: heat some olive oil and garlic in a pan… slowly, slowly… let the oil infuse with the garlic’s flavour. Then, when the aromas start to fill the air, add the rice immediately. Seal the rice with olive oil until it’s very hot, then add 1.5 fingers of boiling water on top of the rice. As soon as it starts boiling, reduce the heat and leave it to cook for around 17mins. You’ll have perfect pilaf rice.’


8. THE BEST FRIED EGGS START IN A COLD PAN 
Recommended by:
Tom Cenci. Executive Chef at The Duck & Waffle
Tom says ‘Everybody loves fried eggs but most people struggle to make them properly. It’s actually very simple… cook your egg in a cold pan, not a hot one. Take a cold pan, add a little bit of oil and crack the egg into it. Then put it onto a gentle heat to cook. The egg will always be perfectly cooked and shaped, with the white fully cooked and the yolk deliciously warm and runny’. 


9. MAKE YOUR SOUFFLÉ BASE MIXTURE THE DAY BEFORE
Recommended by:
Simon Young. Executive Chef at Jumeirah Carlton Tower, Knightsbridge 
Simon says ‘Soufflé bases used to be made from pastry cream and flavourings. Quite heavy so in order to prevent the soufflé from collapsing you had to make the mix just before cooking but these days you don’t need to. New style soufflés are made using a fruit purée and corn flour so are a lot lighter and can hold up for longer, meaning that it’s perfectly fine to make your base in the morning, store it in the fridge, cook it at 8pm and it will still rise.’ 


AND, AS A FUN (BUT VERY USEFUL!) FACT...

10. NORMAL PANS ARE JUST AS GOOD AS COPPER ONES, IF NOT BETTER
Recommended by:
Andrew Dargue. Head Chef and Owner of Vanilla Black
Andrew says ‘So many people think that copper pans are brilliant, simply because they’re ‘sold’ that ideal through marketing and chef trends but actually, they may be expensive but normal pans are just as good, if not better for cooking. Copper pans have heat spots and, more often than not, they don’t heat properly.’ 

 




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