There are a lot of cooking myths out there, some are harmless, some are simply misinformation that’s never been corrected, and some are just… well myths. I was trying to think which ones are my personal pet peeves and these are my top three:
Only cook using wine you’d drink
Caveat: we are talking about using drinking wine for cooking here, not cooking wine products. There are 2 things you want from wine when you’re cooking. One, you want the alcohol to do its thing and produce chemical reaction with other flavour compounds, and two, you want the flavour characteristic of the wine to mingle and create depth to your final dish. So you want to keep an eye on fruitiness, acidity, sweetness– cheap wine is fine. I’ve cooked bolognese so many times using $10 shiraz and they turn out fine. Unless you’re going to be cooking a reduced wine sauce, you will not be able to really taste the difference.
Constantly stir Risotto and add the stock in slowly
No, I don’t constantly stir my risotto, and no, I also add most (if not all) of my stock in one go, only adding later if I need to. I simply use a wide pan, lid on, and low heat to let the rice cook evenly and stirring only once in awhile (only to check), far off from the whole ‘constantly stirring’ and this method constantly produces good risotto. If you think risotto is intimidating, think Asian style rice porridge, which is basically rice + stock and let it cook, obviously with a lot less liquid ratio.
Adding oil to the pasta water to prevent sticking
By now, I actually thought people already knew that this is simply an old wives’ tale. But the other day, someone I knew actually mentioned it to me (and a small part of me died inside.) Look, it has been proven time and time again that adding oil to pasta water do not prevent sticking, can we just move on? Besides, wouldn’t it be easier to oil the pasta AFTER you drain it if you really want to do this? (Which you shouldn’t do anyway because it may prevent sauce sticking). If you’re not gonna use the pasta right away, which I assume is why this whole oiling the pasta originates from, just wash the pasta under cold water to remove the excess starch and reheat it later (This is actually similar to how Japanese cook soba or how the Chinese rinse egg noodles after cooking them.)