So, here’s the dilemma – Is it OK to use premixed ingredients like spice mixes, sauces and pastes when teaching people to cook? For us, there is no dilemma. We’re good with them, providing they don’t detract from the desired end-result. Poh Ling Yeow; Yeow Family; Yeow; Foodie
From scratch or not from scratch? That is the question!
We got a lot of tremendously positive feedback on our most recent Shop-Cook-Eat session. However, there was one particular piece of feedback that highlighted a dilemma I’m sure that many cooking demonstrators grapple with and inspired this blog post. It related specifically to Mum starting the demonstration on how to cook the chicken curry dish by introducing ready-blended dry spice mix (aka curry powder). As a seasoned traveller and obviously an advanced cook, the lady who kindly provided that feedback was hoping to learn how to make it from scratch and expressed some disappointment. Poh Ling Yeow; Yeow Family; Yeow; Foodie
As much as we would like to make everything from scratch, a recurring message we get is for us to simplify. This makes our recipes accessible to less experienced and/or time-poor home cooks. With our four kids (Teena may argue five!), we fall into that latter category. We frequently see expressions of relief on faces when the ‘I can do this’ coin drops. Poh Ling Yeow; Yeow Family; Yeow; Foodie
Moreover, we also use my sister, Poh as our consultant and sounding board. Her advice has consistently been to reduce ingredients to encourage a spirit of education and inclusiveness. Adhering to KIS (Keep It Simple) principles helps inexperienced cooks from different walks of life gain confidence in our classes. Poh always stresses the difference between someone actually attempting the recipe again at home or not, can be a legitimate short cut like this. The chance of someone giving it a go is further improved by our coaching through the ‘shop’ part of our Shop-Cook-Eat sessions with regard to our preferred brands of pre-mixed ingredients. Poh Ling Yeow; Yeow Family; Yeow; Foodie
The other reason we use ‘ready-mades’ like blended spice mix is because it’s indeed a very common cultural practise. Our Malaysian relatives, many from whom we have inherited precious recipes, often use spice mix because nowadays they are of such high quality. To say that anyone who adds a packet of premixed garam masala, or a mixed spice mix, to an otherwise from-scratch dish, is not cooking properly, is harsh.Poh Ling Yeow; Yeow Family; Yeow; Foodie
Although we understand that some may feel slightly unfulfilled by our use of pre-mixed ingredients, we stand by our approach. And that is to make our form of cooking as accessible and non-discriminating as possible. Sometimes, we may say things that seem like culinary sacrilege to purists, but the simplicity and honesty with which we conduct our classes, that is without script or rehearsing, defines the very core of our brand. We are a family of home cooks, encouraging other home cooks to expand their repertoire. There’s not a lot more to it than that. Poh Ling Yeow; Yeow Family; Yeow; Foodie