5 Tips for Turning Frozen Food into Fine Dining Meals
Whenever you’re out doing your groceries or ordering through a grocery store delivery service, you can’t leave without picking up a few frozen food products. Items such as frozen fish fillets, minced meat, and ready-to-cook meals have become quintessential food in many households as they’re affordable, as well as easy to store and prepare. Due to their convenience, a lot of people use them in simple recipes or cook them as is. However, preparing them the same way over and over again can make your meals boring.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to bring the spark back into frozen meals. Here are 5 tips to help transform ordinary frozen food products into fine dining meals:
Balance Out or Add Some Flavour
There are a lot of frozen food items that come pre-seasoned. Unfortunately, not all of them taste as promising as they sound. It’s possible that the sea salt and pepper chicken breasts you bought are heavily seasoned with salt, making it nearly impossible to appreciate the other flavours in the meal. Alternatively, some items come underseasoned, so you’ll be disappointed that you’re unable to taste the rustic flavours of a meat pie.
To solve these issues, you can either balance out or add seasoning to make the real flavour of the meal shine through. For example, if you’re working with an overly salty frozen food, you can add lemon juice or pair it with something fatty to cut the strong flavour of salt. On the other hand, if you’re dealing with a bland product, you can incorporate different kinds of seasonings, giving you the opportunity to discover an array of flavour profiles.
Create Your Own Marinade, Sauce, or Condiment
Marinades, sauces, and condiments open up the flavours of various dishes. After all, you can’t call it a barbecued pork shoulder without a robust BBQ marinade, or orange chicken without a sweet and tangy glaze. The good thing about these flavour enhancers is that you can make them from scratch. As such, cooking with frozen pieces of meats becomes a more exciting experience.
For example, you can transform plain cuts of chicken into a zesty meal by letting it absorb the flavours of a cilantro lime marinade. Dim sums like shumai and gyoza, on the other hand, can be paired with a homemade dipping sauce containing soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and chilli flakes. With so many sauces, condiments, or marinades that can be created using the items in your pantry, the possibilities are endless.
Use Different Cooking Techniques
Although frying, steaming, and boiling are easy ways to cook frozen food, you can explore other cooking techniques to further enhance their flavours. Broiling, grilling, and pan-searing are great ways to give meals that rich and smoky taste. They also add that nice browning or char on the surface, which never fails to impress. You may also invest in quality cooking equipment like sous vide machine or a dehydrator to get the flavours and textures of certain dishes just right.
Use Them as Alternatives for Certain Recipes
Different frozen food can come in handy, especially when you’re out of a certain food item that’s needed in a recipe. If you don’t have any ground beef to make a hearty pot of Bolognese sauce, you can crumble up some burger patties and incorporate them in the sauce instead. Don’t have any potatoes to make a hot plate of poutine? Then open up and fry a bag of golden French fries to help satisfy your cravings for this Canadian dish.
Using specific types of frozen food can also alter the composition of a meal to suit types of diets. For example, vegans can use frozen plant-based pepperoni slices instead of regular pepperoni when baking a vegan pizza. Those who want to eat healthy, on the other hand, can throw in frozen vegetables in a stew or soup to increase its nutritional value.
Think Outside of the Box
Frozen food can be quite versatile, and there a lot of things you can do to change their flavour, consistency, and culinary use. As such, don’t be afraid to experiment with these food items since you might discover something new that can turn ordinary meals into flavourful and innovative dishes.
For example, if you don’t have the energy to peel, boil, and mash potatoes to make potato croquet, you can use potato tots instead. Simply boil the potato tots until they’re soft and run them through a potato ricer to get that mashed potato consistency.
Another example would be using strips of bacon to make bacon cups. To do this, wrap the mounds of a muffin tin with bacon before popping it in a preheated oven. Once the bacon forms into a hard shell, remove the tin from the oven and let the bacon cups cool before removing them. You can use these cups as vessels to serve bitesize portions of a variety of meals like chilli, eggs and cheese, and salads.
Although frozen food is typically made for quick and convenient cooking, there are a lot of things you can do to further enhance their flavours and uses. By using any of the tips mentioned above, you can ensure that your weekly meals will become more exciting as you’re serving up frozen meals that boast a fine-dining flair.