BASIC COOKING PRINCIPLES
Don't feel like you're all at sea with the thought
of producing great meals in a small galley.
Once you've mastered a few basic principles of
cooking, then the world really is your oyster.
You can throw out all those fiddly and confusing
cook books and start with your own ideas. Read
through all the sections below for a quick overview
on how to do most things in the galley, from boiling
an egg to roasting a leg of lamb or baking that
perfect cake. Cooking is no more than a basic
understanding of the food science behind it
A lot of dishes require the frying of onions and
garlic as a base, get this right and the rest will
Thinly slice or chop an
onion. Place your frying pan or skillet on the
stove, on a medium heat, with a few tablespoons of a
good quality oil (olive is best here) . As they start to sizzle
use a wooden spoon or equivalent to help turn them
over and move them around. Continue doing
this until your onions are golden brown, or to a
color of your liking (there is no hard and fast
rule here). The longer you cook your onions,
the sweeter they will become and the more they
will combine with what you are cooking.
Don't turn the heat up too much, your onions will
burn! As with onions, thinly slice or shop
your garlic, but use a lower heat and less time,
burnt garlic is not a nice flavor, gently cooked
garlic is to die for. Place your garlic in
your pan of nearly cooked onions and they will
release their flavor without burning and going
bitter... You now have a great start to so
many dishes. Unless you really are getting
into the nitty gritty of cookery, when a recipe
demands sautéing, just think of the above, its
much of a muchness.
Try using different onions occasionally, red onions
caramelize easily and have a much sweeter taste, go
for young onions if possible.
While in the oven things cook from the outside in. As moisture evaporates from the food, flavors concentrate and a browned, crispy crust forms on the outside. Roasting most often happens at 400°F or higher, especially with quicker-cooking foods like vegetables and pork tenderloin. Large roasts, like turkey or leg of lamb, often start at a high temp to encourage browning and cripsing, but then the heat is lowered to 350°F so the meat can cook through without drying out. Try rubbing some herbs or spices onto your ingredients before roasting, and don't forget to cover your food with some oil before hand.
We can cook the meat from almost every part of an animal. Whether we're talking about cows or goats or pigs, the major cuts are generally the same and cook in similar ways. These are as follows:
The shoulders and legs (or shanks)
The middle area (loin and ribs)
The haunches (back thighs and legs)
These main cuts break down into lots of smaller cuts. And then there are the other, less common-cooked, cuts, like organ meat, tongue, tail, head, cheeks, and sweetbreads.
Imagine an animal wandering around looking for food. The shoulders, haunches, and legs are getting all the workout — these big cuts are tough and lean as a result. The back gets much less of a workout, so the cuts from this middle area are generally more tender and fattier. Neither of these cuts is better than the other, but they do cook differently so it's important to be aware of the differences.
Tender cuts from the back (loin) region of cows, pigs, and other animals are quick-cooking cuts. These are things like ribeye steak, sirloin steak, pork chops, and pork tenderloin — generally small, thin cuts that would serve one or two people. These cuts are already tender and full of flavor, so they don't need much cooking to make them taste awesome. In fact, cooking these cuts too long makes the fat melt out and the muscle fibers seize up, making the meat dry, chewy, and tasteless. Use these quick-cooking cuts for fast preparations, like simple searing, stir fries, and other stovetop preparations.
There can be a fine line between a rare and medium rare steak, but instead of cutting into it to find out doneness, did you know that your hand can be a great reference instead?
Just touch the tip of your thumb to the tip one
of the other fingers on that hand, then feel the
fleshy part right under your thumb with your other
hand. Starting from the fingers closest to your
thumb, what you're feeling is similar to what
steak feels like as it cooks: rare (index finger)
to medium-rare (middle finger) to medium (ring
finger) to well-done (pinky). Give your steak a
poke, then compare to your hand. Obviously a
clean hand should be used!
By contrast, tough cuts from the shoulders and rear of the animal will taste dry and chewy if you don't let them cook long enough. These are cuts like beef chuck, beef round roast, pork shoulder, and pork butt, and they are generally large cuts serving multiple people. These cuts need long, slow cooking in order to break down tough connective tissues and become tender and delicious. Use these tougher cuts in braises, soups and stews, and roasts. Searing is almost always one of the first steps when cooking meat. In the case of steak, it's the only step! We sear meat for one purpose only: to give it flavor. Contrary to what you may have heard, searing does not seal in moisture or anything else — it simply caramelizes the outside of the meat, adding deep and roasty flavors to your dish. Use high heat and sear until you see a deep golden-brown crust on the outside of the meat. Most meat also needs a period of resting after it's taken off the heat and before you slice into it. Usually, resting for 5 to 10 minutes is fine. During this time, moisture that was pulled to the surface during cooking settles back into the muscle fibers, keeping the meat juicy instead of tasting dry.
CHICKEN & POULTRY
What's the difference between white and dark meat? White meat refers to the breast meat, while dark meat refers to the meat on the thighs, legs, and wings. White breast meat is generally leaner and cooks more quickly. Dark meat from the other parts of the bird are richer, fattier, and cook more slowly. Since the two kinds of meat cook a bit differently. When buying poultry pieces, you'll usually have the option of buying skin-on and bone-in, boneless and skinless, or any combination of those options. The skin is mostly fat, which renders during cooking and is helpful for keeping the meat moist and tender (particularly lean breast meat, which can easily dry out). Cooking the meat with the bone in also helps the meat cook more evenly.
Make sure any frozen poultry is totally thawed before starting to cook.
Cook all poultry to 165°F. This is the safe cooking temperature for all poultry, from chicken to duck. Check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. The thighs and wings should also wiggle loosely in their sockets, and any juices should run clear. A little red or pink right at the bone is usually ok, especially around the joints.
Its all the same thing, dependent upon where you live in the world you will either hear it called broiling or grilling. Basically heat or flame over the top of your food. It doesn't really need that much introduction, think of bacon, or cheese on toast.
Simmering is a way of gently cooking ingredients until they are tender, but it's also a way of getting flavors in a dish to melt. As a soup or a sauce simmers, herbs and spices infuse the liquid, vegetables absorb some of that seasoned liquid while also contributing some of their own flavors back. — it's synergy! To boil or to simmer, that is the question? At one end, you have a "slow simmer" and on the other end you have a "full rolling boil." At a slow simmer, you'll see very little movement in the liquid; wisps of steam and a tiny bubble or two every so often, but that's it. Then you have a "simmer," where you'll see some gentle bubble activity. A "rapid simmer" is just below a full boil; you'll see a lot of activity in the liquid but the bubbles will still be pretty small. When liquids are at a full, rolling boil, you'll see big bubbles and lots of churning, frantic activity in the pot.So why not just boil, firstly, the water is not any hotter and things don't cook any quicker, secondly, if you boil you potatoes on full heat, they tend to bounce around the pan, bumping into each other, thus starting to disintegrate before the insides are cooked. On the whole, unless specified, bring things to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, you will also save a lot of gas this way.
You'll need a metal steamer basket, a bamboo steamer, or another similar device for lifting the food above the surface of the liquid — even a colander or a plate balanced on an upside-down bowl will do! You'll also need a covered pot or pan to steam inside; if you're using a bamboo steamer, you can set it over a wok or skillet. Set the steamer basket over simmering water, add the ingredients to the basket, cover, and steam. Make sure that the surface of the liquid is below the basket. This cooking method doesn't involve a lot of guesswork — as long as the water is simmering and creating steam, and as long as the steam is trapped inside the pot, then you're doing it right! Just make sure the water doesn't evaporate completely during the cooking time; you can add more water if needed. Don't forget that you can steam using seawater (as long as the environment is clean), thus saving potable water.
Be careful when working with steam — while it technically can be the same temperature as boiling water, steam releases a lot more energy when it hits a surface like your hand and condenses into a liquid, resulting in a potentially more severe burn.
Just mention the word 'bake' and some people
immediately panic, how do you get that look,
consistency and taste that grandma made
famous. Not a problem, look no further. First
things first, get an oven thermometer, and this is
why. Delicate recipes like cakes, cookies, and
pastries usually bake at the lower end of the
spectrum: between 300°F and 350°F. Besides needing a
bit gentler treatment, the butters and dairy in
these recipes can make them burn at higher
temperatures. Leaner breads, pizzas, and the like
are often baked at 450°F or even higher. Casseroles
often fall in the middle and are baked between 350°F
and 425°F. Be aware that some recipes start at a
higher temperature to kick-start the baking process
and then the oven temperature is lowered later in
Ever wondered why your curry didn't taste right, spices need to be treated with respect, and some times a little caution. When cooking curries, or any type of food that requires a spice remember that on the whole they are oil soluble, thus need to be gently fried to release the flavor. If your dish tastes bitter, it could be that you used too much spice, your spices were old, or they burned when you added them to the dish. Hardy, woody herbs like thyme and rosemary do well if given some time to cook with a dish — they can sometimes taste bitter if added too close to serving. Delicate herbs like basil and chervil can lose their punch if cooked for too long. Usually, these herbs are best stirred into a dish or sprinkled over top just before serving.
When you need to thicken a sauce or stew/curry
there are more ways than one, which ever method you
choose you'll soon be slurping up all that sauce and
not wasting a drop. If your soup/stew/curry is
a little liquid for your taste, mix a little flour
(any will do) with water, then stir in, remember you
will have to cook your food for a few minutes longer
to cooker the flour. Alternatively, use corn
flour, this is an instant thickener, again, mix with
a little water, then stir in., the advantage here is
that you will not have to stand there stiring it
whilst it cooks through. Wheat flour will hold
it's 'thickness' once your food cools down, corn
flour often wont, so think of this if wanting to
re-heat things afterwards. Do not simply
sprinkle flour onto your sauce, it will clump
together and ruin what you have just cooked.
If you are gluten intolerant, then try thickening
your sauces with potato or guar gum, available in a
lot of health food shops and pharmacies.
This brings us nicely onto...
There are five classic French sauces, the building blocks for many other dishes and complete meals. They include béchamel, velouté, espagnole, hollandaise, and tomato sauce. Those first three are all sauces made with a roux, which is a cooked paste of equal parts flour and butter. Some schools of culinary thought argue that mayonnaise should also be included here.
Bechamel: Roux whisked with milk or
Velouté: Roux whisked with chicken, turkey, fish or any other clear stock
Espagnole: Roux whisked with beef or veal stock
Tomato Sauce: Tomato puree, sometimes thickened with roux but more frequently cooked until thickened
Hollandaise: Egg yolk and butter emulsion (served warm)
Mayonnaise: Egg yolk and oil emulsion (served cold)
How much seasoning do you really need? It's
up to you, unless you are on a low-sodium
diet. Here are a few tips on what and when to
season. Don't put too much salt in at the
start. You can always put in more as you go
along. Should you have a little mistake, try
sprinkling a small amount of sugar into the recipe
(no more than half a teaspoon), this will take the
salty taste away and rescue your food.
Salt is neither herb nor spice, but it is
extremely vital to our cooking. Salt reduces
bitterness and enhances the flavors of other
ingredients in foods. A dish that is under-salted
might taste flat or overly bitter. Only dishes that
are over-salted actually taste salty. You're looking
for the sweet middle ground. When tasting a dish,
try to ignore your instinct to taste for saltiness
and instead ask yourself if the flavors are flat or
bright, or if it's a touch bitter.
type of oil you use can sometimes effect the
outcome of your dish, unless you are a great
connoisseur of oils, buy a good quality oil that
you like and that can be used for all your
you want your sugar to caramelize, learn a little
about just how much to use, what temperature does
to the flavor and when to use it. When
exposed to heat, sugar will at first melt into a
thick syrup. As the temperature continues to rise,
the sugar syrup changes color, from clear to light
yellow to a progressively deepening brown. This
browning process is called caramelization.
It is a complicated chemical reaction, and in
addition to color change, it also causes the
flavor of the sugar to evolve and take on the rich
complexity that we know to be characteristic of
caramel. Different types of sugar caramelize at
different temperatures. Granulated white sugar
melts at 320°F/160°C and begins to caramelize at
338°F/170°C. As you chill food down in a
fridge of freezer, sweet things will taste less
sweet, what you consider may be the perfect
sweetness at room temperature will lose its
sweetness when frozen, which is why there is so
much sugar in normal icecream.
Eggs, the incredible edible. No matter where you look, eggs are there, breakfast and beyond, the Buzz Lightyear of the galley. So, what to do with them? Cocktails, sandwiches, cakes. Eggs will carry on 'cooking' once taken off or out of heat, so take that into consideration when making such things as scrambled eggs. Size matters with eggs in recipes, so take note when your recipe calls for a large egg, if not stated assume a medium egg. Take note if eggs need to be whisked or separated before you start. Also, don't forget the effect of time and temperature when cooking eggs, pay attention and dont end up with egg on your face!
Normally you will find tofu in the refrigerated part of a grocery store, if not, it also comes vacuum packed, which is great for long passages. If buying refrigerated stuff, keep chilled and use within a few days. Since there are several kinds of tofu with varying textures, make sure you buy the tofu that your recipe calls for. Don't bash tofu too much when cooking, it will crumble. Tofu can be cut into any shape or sliced - it's up to you. Tofu is a great substitute for eggs or dairy in a lot of sweet and savory recipes. It can be crumbled and cooked like scrambled eggs, whipped into chocolate mousse, or blended to make creamy dairy-free salad dressings. Tofu does need a lot of other flavors as it's bland and otherwise uninteresting, try a tofu curry.
Vegetables come in all different colors, flavors
and textures. Once you've learned to love
them not fear them, they make all the
difference. Vegetables can be turned into
meals on their own, or used in supporting roles to
meat or fish - so how do you tackle that pumpkin,
and do you really need to keep the heat on high
when boiling potatoes?
There are a lot of vegetables to choose from, but
they are basically all the same, they start out
hard when uncooked, and end up soft and squidgy
when cooked. The application of heat to a
vegetable can change its flavor, most of the time
for the best, think of a crispy golden roasted
potato. One thing to remember is that, vegetables
such as potatoes, carrots etc cook a lot quicker
when cut into cubes. So dependent upon what
you intend to do with them, you might want to dice
your veg before cooking in order to save
gas. If boiling vegetables on a stove top,
bring to the boil, then turn the gas down to a
simmer, they don't cook any quicker on a full
rolling boil, than a simmer with the lid on.
Alternatively, using a pressure cooker is a great
NOTE: THESE TIMES ARE APPROXIMATE AND THAT INDIVIDUAL PRESSURE COOKERS WILL VARY
Pots and pans
and pressure cookers, there's a lot of choice out
there, but really you only need a few on board to
create all that you want. One good skillet
is a must, you'll use it day in day out. Try
buying pans with heavy bases, not only for
stability, but the base will act as a good heat
spreader. Some people prefer a matching set
of pans, others buy particular sizes that they
want, but on the whole a set of one large, one
medium and one small pan is all that you will ever
need. Go for stainless steel, not
aluminum. If you spend a lot of time by
yourself, then invest in a good quality small
frying pan, it will save time and gas, and makes
frying eggs a doddle. Pressure cookers are a
must on a boat, and a good quality one will last
you a life time. MORE
ON PRESSURE COOKERS...
Do you really need all those sharp knives, triage them and maybe replace the most important ones. A good sized chopping knife is essential, a paring knife, filleting knife and general purpose medium sized knife are all that is really needed. Investment in a good knife is well worth while. Keep your knives sharp, buy a good quality steel and learn to use it. Good knife skills start with holding the knife properly. Pinch the blade of the knife where it meets the handle between your thumb and first finger, then wrap the rest of your fingers around the handle. (Do not lay your first finger across the top of the blade.) This position will give you the most leverage and control as you cut and dice. It might feel a little awkward at first, but if you keep practicing holding your knife this way, it will quickly start to feel natural. Be sure to protect your other hand as you cut: use "The Claw" position. Curl the fingers of your opposite hand into a "claw" and rest just the tips of your fingers on top of the ingredient you're about to cut. Tuck your thumb in; your wrist should be parallel to the cutting board. As you slice, move your fingers back, still keeping this claw formation. If your knife slips as you cut, it will hit against your knuckles or fingernails, protecting you from a serious slice.
At what temperature should you cook a certain
food, as with a lot of boat ovens, you might just
have the two type setting...HOT OR COLD! If so
keep an eye on what you are cooking and act
|Red Meat, Type||Oven °F||Timing||Minimum Internal Temperature & Rest Time|
|Beef, rib roast, bone-in; 4 to 8 pounds||325||23 to 30 min/lb||145 °F and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes|
|Beef, rib roast, boneless; 4 pounds||325||39 to 43 min/lb|
|Beef, eye round roast; 2 to 3 pounds||325||20 to 22 min/lb|
|Beef, tenderloin roast, whole; 4 to 6 lbs||425||45 to 60 minutes total|
|Beef, tenderloin roast, half; 2 to 3 lbs||425||35 to 45 minutes total|
|POULTRY: Times are for unstuffed poultry. Add 15 to 30 minutes for stuffed birds. The internal temperature should reach 165 °F in the center of the stuffing.|
|Turkey, whole;||325||30 min/lb||165 °F and check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh, innermost part of the wing and the thickest part of the breast.|
|Chicken, whole; 4 to 8 pounds||375||20 to 30 min/lb|
|CAPON, whole; 4 to 8 pounds||375||20 to 30 min/lb|
|CORNISH HENS, whole; 18 to 24 oz.||350||50 to 60 minutes total|
|DUCK, domestic, whole||375||20 min/lb|
|DUCK, wild, whole||350||18 to 20 min/lb|
|GOOSE, domestic or wild, whole||325||20 to 25 min/lb|
|PHEASANT, young, whole, 2 pounds||350||30 min/lb|
|QUAIL, whole||425||20 minutes total|
leg, bone-in; 5 to 9 pounds
Lamb, leg, boneless; 4 to 7 pounds
|325||20-26 min/lb||145 °F and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes|
|Lamb, crown roast; 3 to 4 pounds||375||20-30 min/lb|
|Pork, loin roast, bone-in; 3 to 5 pounds||325||20-25 min/lb||145 °F and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes|
|Pork, loin roast boneless; 2 to 4 pounds||325||23-33 min/lb|
|Pork, crown roast; 6 to 10 lbs||325||20-25 min/lb|
|Pork, tenderloin; ½ to 1½ lbs||425||20-30 minutes total|
|Ham, cook-before-eating, bone-in; Whole, 14 to 16 pounds||325||18-20 min/lb||145 °F and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes|
|Ham, cook-before-eating, bone-in; Half, 7 to 8 pounds||325||22-25 min/lb|
|Ham, fully cooked, bone-in; Whole, 14 to 16 pound||325||15-18 min/lb||140 °F|
|Ham, fully cooked, bone-in; Half, 7 to 8 pounds||325||18-25 min/lb||140 °F|
|Ham, fully cooked, boneless; 3 to 4 lbs||325||27-33 min/lb||140 °F|
|Ham, country, dried||(see label directions)|
|Veal, boneless roast, rump or shoulder; 2 to 3 pounds||325||25-30 min/lb||145 °F and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes|
the above you will have the skills and knowledge to
produce the best that your galley can give.
The rest is up to you and your imagination.
When on passage use a galley belt, it could save your from a nasty accident, and allows you to keep balance whilst juggling your cooking and holding on at the same time. Most good chandlers carry them in stock.
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