Step 5: Experiment

Branch out

Next time you cook, you can start to draw on the experience you’ve gathered from the last meal in the one you’re cooking now. At the simplest, this might be working out how much salt you want to put in a stew for 4 people, but what I’m really talking about here is trying to develop your culinary imagination, so you can start to make up your own recipes and get an idea of what ingredients work together.

As you’re thinking about what things to put in, try to imagine in your mind how they might taste together. If you’re using herbs, have a smell of them to get them fresh in your mind, then think about which ones might go with the ingredients you’re using.

If you’ve cooked a similar recipe before, try changing a few things to see how it comes out. You could try putting some vegetables in earlier or later if you’re making a stew, or for a curry, try making it less hot than usual to taste the other flavours more.

You might think that working out your own recipes like this is some kind of mystic ability that only born chefs have, but I don’t believe this is true – I taught myself to cook this way and I reckon most people can given a bit of time and perseverance.

Learn from others

Once you’ve got a bit of confidence to find your own way with what you’re doing, you can broaden your range of techniques by trying out book recipes or learning from people you know. Just bear in mind that the aim is to broaden your own skills and intuition, rather than just rote learning a series of steps to prepare a specific meal.

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