Feb 27, 2014

    Recipe for disaster

    Why are amateurs nearly killing themselves trying 'chefy' methods?

    FANCY yourself a chef and follower of food trends?

    Leave out the crucial ingredient - common sense - and you could find yourself literally burning with passion for gourmet cooking.

    Last week, the London Fire Brigade cited amateur cooks attempting to recreate celebrity recipes for "posh chips", or triple-cooked fries, as a possible reason behind a 14 per cent spike in the number of chip pan fires in the city between 2012 and last year.

    I thought "posh chips" involved a decadent drizzling of truffle oil.

    I was wrong. You have to cook them thrice to elevate them to the gourmet category.

    While blaming celebrity chefs for a surge in cooking-related fires sounds far-fetched, the way I see it, you don't have to worry about clogged arteries if you try to make your own triple-cooked fries - you might be burned to death before you even get to taste them.

    The Telegraph and the Daily Mail highlighted British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal's recipe for triple-cooked fries as an example of dangerous chip recipes.

    This came barely two weeks after he made headlines for the temporary closure of his London restaurant Dinner, after diners were hit by the norovirus, a stomach bug.

    Blumenthal's recipe involves parboiling the chips before deep-frying them twice, and freezing them in between the deep-frying.

    Now, I have nothing against Blumenthal, who is known for his cutting-edge, experimental style of cooking.

    His brilliance and wizardry in cooking is undisputed, if not controversial - in a 2012 interview with The Guardian, he talked about placing a tampon in his mouth to allow it to soak up juices. A palate-cleansing pad, you could call it.

    To be fair, it's not right to toss the blame on chefs like Blumenthal.

    After all, those who wish to follow any experimental style of cooking should apply logic and discretion when replicating recipes like his.

    It's one thing to stick a harmless tampon in your mouth, and another to handle hot boiling oil on a stove top.

    But there will always be those who pursue food trends without considering potential health hazards.

    Take the craze over the sous vide method of cooking.

    I find it baffling why many rave over a technique that, in layman terms, is boiling food in a sealed plastic bag.

    And don't get me started on the fad of using liquid nitrogen, a freezing agent, in cooking and cocktail-making.

    In 2012, a British teenager had part of her stomach removed after drinking a cocktail made with liquid nitrogen.

    What happened to good old-fashioned cooking?

    Give me honest, plebeian but safe fare any time and save the smoke and mirrors for the theatre.