Code for Cooks – Thank You Google

I recently took a course at Google that exposed me to the world of ratios in cooking. It was a series of seven classes that teach you a little bit of everything to get your kitchen set up and get you comfortable with some basic cooking. I took copious notes during these classes. And I am finding it very hard to distill them into a single blog post. But I will try to share some snippets here. This is mostly for my benefit. But I am happy to answer questions if one might have.

Class 1 – Introduction to flavor grids and some basic pantry essentials

Each meal should have a balance of – sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, umami in it. Balance these flavors and each dish will be flavorful.

Some recipes I tried in this class –

(1) Summer salad vinaigrette – add olive oil. balsamic vinegar, champagne vinegar, ginger and honey, with a dash of salt. Toss your greens with some avocado, and any variety of tomatoes. Remember the ratio of oil to the rest is roughly 4:1.

(2) Tamarind Vinaigrette for Asian Slaw – You can buy Asian Slaw at Trader Joes, and make this really simply vinaigrette – Add Tamarind, Siracha, Palm Sugar, Lemon Zest and lil bit of salt. Whisk together and Voila!

Class 2 – Basic vinaigrettes and salad dressings

Apparently the best place to buy eggs is the farmers market. And in Japan eggs are sold next to cereal. It is only in the US that eggs are treated such that need refrigeration.
Common emulsifiers are – eggs, mayonnaise and mustard. These items holds the dressing together and makes it stay longer.
In general ratios are – 1 egg to 1 cup of oil  to 1 tsp of lemon/lime juice
We made honey mustard and caesar dressing  –

Honey Mustard

Shallot  -1/2 chopped
Honey – 1tbsp
Mustard – 1tbsp
Olive oil – 1 cup
Champagne Vinegar – 1/2 cup (if you don’t like it to tangy, slow down on the vinegar)
Salt – to taste

1- Lemon
1/4 cup – Fish sauce
1- Whole egg
2 – Garlic
1tsp – Palm sugar
1 cup – Olive oil
Use the hand blender to get a rich and smooth consistency
And if you are looking for a quick fix, use bell jars for shaking up your vinaigrettes.

Class 3 – Wet Seasoning and Dry Rubs

In this class we learnt about pan roasting and grilling meat, and we also learnt about dry rubs and wet seasonings. Chef Dede is of the opinion that unless you have a big piece of meat, like a pork shoulder, you do not need to marinate over night. You can do a quick wet seasoning that can add a lot of flavor to your meat.

Dry Rubs
Ratio is 8 (sugar):3(salt):1(spice):1(custom)
This ratio is good for chicken and fish. For pork, you can do 5:3:1:1.
Dry rubs last for a couple of months
Types of spices – Cayenne, Paprika, Cumin etc..
Type of custom – Ginger, onion powder, thyme, any herbs for that matter.

Recipe – I did a dry rub with salt, brown sugar, black pepper, cayenne Pepper, ginger and some onion powder, on chicken. Pan roasted it for few min on each side and then cooked it in the oven at 375degrees for 4-5min. It wasp pretty well cooked. Chicken cooks at 135degrees.

Wet seasoning

Ratio is 10:1:1:1 
where the 10 is Umami (pungent. spicy something..) and other items are the tangential flavors. We wet seasoned a flank steak and grilled it –
Chef’s wet seasoning – 
Black Pepper
Rice Vinegar
Cayenne pepper
Shivi’s wet seasoningBalsamic vinegar
Black Pepper
Some misc tips

  1. First heat the pan. Then add oil to it. Then pat the meat dry (if the rub had sugar in it), and then add it to the pan. This will give you some time before the sugar starts caramelizing.
  1. Do not cover the meat with a lid. That will be steaming and it is another way to cook meat. But dry rubs and steam don’t do so well together.
Class 4- Roasting Veggies and Grains

In this class we learnt about roasting vegetables and cooking grains. We made quinoa (yeah no big deal..) and roasted some fall veggies to pair with it. 

We roasted Delicata Squash, apples, onions and potatoes, tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper, at 375F for 20min. Usually best to check after 20min and keep roasting until done. 

We also did soy sauce tasting today. The one that Google kitchens use is 
O’long black soy bean sauce (with Sugar). It was so delicious. And very balanced, as opposed to the Kikomo that I use at home. 

Class 5- Soups and Blanching

In class 4, we learnt about leftover strategies. The strategy was quite simple – make soups out of them. We made a soup out of roasted fall veggies. The recipe was quite simple. Take some left over veggies in a pan. Add some minced garlic and shallots for bold flavors. Add some vegetable stock to the pan, just enough to cover the veggies. Cook until the stock boils. Blend using Vitamix or blender. Season with coconut milk or olive oil. 
We learnt about the technique of blanching veggies in the rest of the class. We blanched carrots and spinach and used them as a topping for our bibimbap. The sauce or the dish was – Korean fermented spice with some soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil.

Class 6 – Sautéing  and Stir-frying

We sautéed some spinach and then made a broccoli shiitake mushroom stir fry. 
The chef made a stir fry sauce with the following ingredients –
  • Spicy siracha
  • Mirin
  • Soy sauce
  • Palm sugar
  • Sesame oil

Stir Frying can be really simple if one follows the steps –

  • Heat the pan
  • Add a lot of oil (do not use Olive oil for stir frys. It’s low smoking point is not desirable for this method. You can mix half olive with half vegetable oil. You can also use coconut oil)
  • Pan should not be more than a third full with ingredients.
  • Be mindful about cutting your veggies. Same shapes, same sizes.
  • First cook the main ingredient that you want to be your dominant flavor. In this case – shiitake mushrooms.
  • Once they are almost cooked, add the broccoli. Once the stems of the broccoli become translucent, add the sauce to the veggies.
  • Stir for 20seconds and take them off the stove.

For spinach we simply followed the same steps, and instead of a sauce, squeezed some lemon in it, just before taking it off the stove. seasoned it with Feta and chili pepper. I loved how it turned out.

I made a stir fry sauce with the following ingredients. My sauce was a little runny, I could have done better there.

  • Soy sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Fish sauce
  • Sea same oil
  • Mirin
  • Palm sugar
  • Garlic
  • Jalapenos

Some chefs don’t recommend washing mushrooms. But if you see dirt on them, rinse them off quickly under running water.

You don’t need to cook summer vegetables with a lid on. But winter vegetables you might need to cook with lid (broccoli and cauliflower)

This pretty much wraps up my course. In the next class, we put together a meal incorporating all the techniques we have learnt so far 🙂

Happy Cooking!

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