Lesson 3 – Basic Cooking Techniques

Chopping and Knife Skills

Objective: To master knife handling and improve precision in cutting techniques. 

Tools Needed: Chef’s knife, paring knife, cutting board. 

Skills Covered: 

  • Holding a knife correctly for safety and control. 
  • Techniques for chopping, dicing, mincing, and julienne. 
  • Maintaining and sharpening knives. 

Activity Description: Begin by selecting a chef’s knife and a paring knife. You will first practice holding the knife properly—using the pinch grip, where you pinch the blade between your thumb and forefinger just in front of the handle, while your other fingers wrap around the handle. Start by chopping a medium onion: peel it, cut it in half from top to bottom, and make vertical cuts, then horizontal cuts to dice. Next, practice julienne cuts on a carrot: peel the carrot, cut into 2-inch long segments, slice each segment lengthwise into thin slabs, and then cut the slabs into thin strips. 

Tips: Keep your fingers tucked in with your knuckles guiding the knife. Move slowly until you feel comfortable increasing your speed safely. 

Sautéing and Stir-Frying

Objective: Master high-heat cooking techniques for quick and flavorful meals. 

Tools Needed: Skillet or wok, spatula. 

Skills Covered: 

  • Proper heat settings for sautéing and stir-frying. 
  • Choosing the right oil for high temperatures. 
  • Techniques for evenly cooking meats and vegetables. 

These quick, high-heat methods are essential for fast, flavorful meals. Our step-by-step guide will show you how to master the techniques, choosing the right oils and maintaining the perfect temperature. 

Activity Description: Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add sliced bell peppers and onions. Stir frequently to ensure even cooking and prevent burning. After vegetables have softened (about 4-5 minutes), add sliced chicken breast and continue to stir-fry until the chicken is fully cooked. 

Tips: Preheat the pan before adding oil. Cut vegetables and meats uniformly to promote even cooking. 

Boiling and Simmering

Objective: Learn the correct methods to boil and simmer foods, enhancing flavor and texture. 

Tools Needed: Pot or saucepan 

Skills Covered

  • Difference between boiling and simmering. 
  • Techniques for perfect rice, pasta, and vegetables. 
  • Tips to prevent overcooking and mushiness. 

Activity Description: Start by filling a medium pot with water and bring it to a boil. Add a pinch of salt. Then, add half a cup of white rice. Reduce the heat to a simmer once the water returns to a boil. Cover the pot and let the rice cook for 18 minutes without lifting the lid. In a separate pot, bring water to a boil and cook spaghetti as per the package instructions to achieve al dente texture. 

Tips: For the rice, ensure the lid is tight to prevent steam from escaping. For the pasta, use plenty of water to prevent sticking and stir occasionally.