Nine kitchen hacks from professional chefs

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Navigating your way around the kitchen can sometimes be a battlefield. Making sure you’ve prepped correctly, baked your dish for the perfect amount of time and followed all the steps in between to deliver the perfect balance of flavour, soul and technique can sometimes overwhelm without having to navigate the small factors that can waste time and make or break a dish.

We spoke to chefs at three of South Africa’s top hotels who shared their top kitchen hacks with us.

Yoshan Naidu, Executive Chef at InterContinental Johannesburg OR Tambo:

  1. To peel garlic very quickly, put the whole head (or the number of garlic cloves you require) in the microwave for 20 – 30 seconds. Once you remove them, the cloves will pop out of the skin if you squeeze them slightly.
  2. To peel a tomato quickly without soaking it in water for a long time, score the top of the tomato and put it in a microwave for 30 seconds. When you take it out, you will be able to peel it easily but be careful: the tomato will be hot.
  3. If you want to make foam for a cappuccino but don’t have a frother, place cold milk in a small consol bottle with a plastic lid. Shake it for 20 seconds and put it in the microwave for 40 seconds.

Amina Lebelo, Executive Chef at Southern Sun’s Riverside Sun:

  1. Adding freshly squeezed lemon juice to any lamb dish will enhance the flavour and make the meat tender.
  2. Marinate beef the night before cooking with freshly chopped herbs, garlic, crushed black pepper, salt and olive oil to ensure the meat is tenderised and to incorporate flavour.
  3. Add Cremora to mash to make it creamier and tastier.

Kirsten Howell, Executive Sous Chef at Punchinello's at Southern Sun Montecasino:

  1. The best hack I ever discovered is the power of a dedicated team. Delegate responsibility – you can’t do it all alone.
  2. Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide will clean anything off your pans, stove tops and baking pans good as new.
  3. Dip a palette knife in hot oil and make a cross pattern in your muffin batter before baking. You will get a perfect muffin top!