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21 Basic Cooking Skills That Will Give You Next-Level Adulting Points

ALWAYS 👏 PREHEAT👏 YOUR👏 PAN.

1. Always, always, always preheat your pan before cooking.

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Why you should be doing this: Sounds obvious, right? Well, it's a common mistake that A LOT of people still make. If you're cooking with a cold pan, your veggies or meat starts to steam, instead of sear or sauté, as it heats up. And if that happens, you'll end up with a mushy plate of hard work gone done the drain.

How you do it: Turn on your stove, put your pan on, prep some ingredients and in no time at all, your pan will be ready to go.

2. But turn the heat down to medium once the pan is nice and hot.

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Why you should be doing this: For the beginners out there, your first instinct might be to keep the stove on full whack so that your food cooks quicker. But this doesn't necessarily work out because the heat of the pan can become waaaaaay too intense for your ingredients. It can quickly turn your beautifully chopped garlic into a blackened mess or ruin your exxy salmon fillet.

How you do this: Once your pan is nice and toasty, turn down the heat to more of a medium simmer and then adjust if needed.

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3. If you're using a recipe, make sure to give it a good read before starting.

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Why you should be doing this: If you're using a recipe, chances are you're making something that you don't want to screw up. Read it once to make sure you've got all the necessary ingredients and utensils, and once more to avoid seeing steps like "leave chicken to marinate overnight" when you're halfway through.

How you should be doing this: Read, don't skim, the recipe. And if you can, print out a copy so you're not getting goo on your phone or tablet.

4. Completely dry your meat before cooking.

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Why you should be doing this: Excess moisture in your meat will cause it to steam, instead of sear. By drying it out, you'll get excellent caramelisation in the pan, which means oodles and oodles of bonus flavour.

How you should be doing this: Use a paper towel and gently pat the pieces of meat you're planning to use to dry them.

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5. Impress your friends and family by using a mandoline slicer to prep your fruit and veg.

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Why you should be doing this: Yes, mandolines look scary AF. But if you use them properly, you'll soon become ADDICTED to this piece of culinary technology. By using one, you'll be able to have consistent, paper-thin slices in no time at all. Think homemade potato chips, fresh slaw and ribbons of zucchini — all without needing to fiddle around with a sharp knife.

How you should be doing this: Always use a hand guard or cut-resistant glove to avoid any nasty accidents in the kitchen. And go slow with cutting the fruit and veg against the blade — it's sharp for a reason!

6. Resist the temptation to overcrowd your pan.

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Why you should be doing this: Look, we've all been there. Big bowl of chicken, tiny pan, rumbling stomach ⁠— but resist the urge to chuck it all in! If you do, there's a high chance that the heat won't distribute properly to everything in the pan. Plus since there's more moisture, your ingredients will start to steam, rather than brown.

How you should be doing this: If you've got a large quantity of something, do it in batches. It'll take a little longer but everything will be cooked to perfection!

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7. If you love to bake, invest in a set of measuring scales.

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Why you should do this: Baking is all about being precise with your ingredients, which is hard to do with a set of measuring cups and spoons. Digital scales are inexpensive, tidy and make it way easier to follow recipes.

How you should do this: Buy some digital scales now!

8. Always let your red meat rest before cutting it.

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Why you should be doing this: Resting your meat is suuuupper important. It allows all the juices to ~settle~, so that when you go to cut it up, it's moist, juicy and bloody delicious.

How you should be doing this: After cooking your steak, take it off the stove and lay it on some aluminium foil. Carefully wrap it up, leave it for around five minutes and then slice it, baby. Just keep it in mind that the meat will continue to cook while wrapped in the foil!

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9. Add a generous amount of salt when cooking pasta.

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Why should you do this: If your pasta dishes are kinda bland, then you're probably not salting the water you cook it in. By doing this, you'll flavour the pasta from the ~inside out~ as it'll absorb the water while cooking.

How you should do this: Once your pot of water has come up to the boil, add 1–2 tablespoons of salt. Give it a mix, then add your pasta.

10. Drain your pasta, but don't rinse it.

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Why you should do this: Rinsing your pasta just removes the natural starch from its surface, making it wet and slippery. This makes it harder for your sauce, whether it's a bolognese, carbonara or pesto-baed, to stick to it.

How you should do this: Drain your pasta after cooking but RESIST the temptation to wash it.

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11. And use the leftover water from the pasta as the base for your sauce.

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Why you should do this: Don't toss all that pasta water! That salty, starchy goodness is perfect for thickening your sauce and adding extra flavour.

How you should do this: Reserve around 1/4–1 cup of pasta water, depending on your quantities, and add to your sauce.

12. Prolong the life of fresh produce by wrapping them in paper towels.

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Why you should do this: Moisture is the killer to all things green and healthy and good for you — and there's a whole lot of that in the fridge. By reducing this as much as possible, this will extend the life of your fresh veggies and herbs and keep them nice and crisp.

How you should this: Obviously this is not the most environmentally-friendly technique, but it does work in a pinch! Grab your fresh produce, wrap it up in some good quality paper towels (that will absorb excess moisture), place it a re-sealable bag and voila! You could even try substituting the paper towels for beeswax wrap.

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13. Keep the root of the onion intact to help with slicing.

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Why you should do this: Onions are hard enough to cut, especially with all those slippery, little layers. But keeping the root intact will hold them all together, giving you a more uniform cut and a convenient hand grip.

How you should this: First off, peel the onion. Then cut it lengthwise (leaving the root intact), so you have two halves. Chop off the steams, then slice horizontally and then vertically to get an even dice.

14. Cook in stock, rather than water, for an instant flavour boost.

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Why you should do this: This works a treat with grains like cous cous, barley and rice because the stock will be absorbed while cooking. It'll add a lot more flavour and richness to the dish, which your tastebuds will thank you for.

How you should do this: Just add the grains, give them a good stir and then pour in the stock. Opt for a low-sodium variety as well, so it's easier to control the flavour and amount of salt you're putting in.

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15. Pound and slice your chicken to equal thickness before you cook it.

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Why you should do this: Whether it's a breast or thigh, most chicken pieces have a "small" and "large" end. Since the larger end is much thicker, it takes longer to cook, meaning that the thinner part of the chicken gets dry. But if you take the time to pound out and slice your chicken to an equal thickness, it'll not only cook faster, but more evenly!

How you should do this: Butterfly your chicken breast or thigh and then pound to an even thickness between sheets of glad wrap. Slice into desired pieces of equal size and cook.

16. Wash your rice for maximum fluffiness.

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Why you should do this: Yes, it's an extra step, but rinsing your rice makes all the difference. It removes any debris and the surface starch from the grains that would otherwise cause your rice to clump together.

How you should this: Rinse your rice throughly under cold water until the water isn't as cloudy.

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17. Season well and often while cooking.

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Why you should do this: If your food is regularly turning out so-so on the flavour front, it's probably because you're not seasoning enough. Salt, pepper and acids like lemon will add a whole other dimension to your dishes and you need to CONSTANTLY be adding them throughout the cooking process.

How you should do this: There aren't any hard rules for this, so just taste as you go and don't be afraid of adding more than you think is necessary.

18. Use canola or vegetable oil if you're cooking at a high temperature.

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Why you should do this: Unlike olive oil, canola and vegetable oil have a higher smoke point, meaning that they won't burn or leave an aftertaste when using them at high temperatures.

How you should do this: Pretty self-explanatory — use canola/vegetable when doing things like stir-fries or deep frying and olive oil the rest of the time.

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19. Press and roll citrus fruits, like lemons, oranges and limes, to release more juice.

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Why you should do this: Rolling the citrus fruits softens and loosens the membranes in the fruit's flesh that holds all that sweet, sweet juice.

How you should do this: Before cutting, press and roll your citrus fruit on a firm surface like a countertop. Then slice or peel as normal.

20. Use a damp towel under your chopping board to stop it moving around.

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Why you should do this: This takes minimal effort and will help avoid disasters in the kitchen, like chopping your finger off because the chopping board moved while you were cutting up a carrot.

How you should do this: Grab a tea towel, wet it, wring it out and lay it underneath your chopping board. The added friction will help keep it steady.

21. And lastly, if you're serious about cooking, sharpen your knives.

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Why you should do this: This may surprise you but a dull knife is actually more dangerous than a sharp one! That's because it requires more pressure to cut into something, increasing the chance of the knife slipping and cutting your poor, little fingers.

How you should do this: There's a couple different ways to sharpen your knives. You can use a whetsone, sharpening steel or even an electric knife sharpener.

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It’s adulting week at BuzzFeed Oz! We’re celebrating everything it means to be an adult in 2019 — and discussing how to be a better one. Click here to check out more.

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