I have finally picked up Ratio, a cookbook written by Michael Ruhman, and read it from front to end for the first time since I made the purchase nearly 5 years ago (part of my unproductive splurge with my ever mounting credit card bill). The book provides basic ratios for common recipes and demonstrate the convenience of knowing these formulas.
I have always been a conservative cook, meaning that I like the tedium of practicing and learning the fundamental of cooking before I unleash my creative juice and innovate dishes. Ratio was an enjoyable read; I reviewed basic recipes I had often practiced and gained knowledge on food or techniques that I rarely use. Ratio is a great book for either a professional or home cook.
I have been a professional chef for eight years, and I have spent majority of my time learning and perfecting (and never perfecting) stock and sauce production. I am humbled and fascinated by some of the basics taught in “Ratio”. Here are some of the highlights:
- Sweat vegetables before adding water enhances the depth of vegetable stock (why have I not ever thought of it…and I do that for all the animal stock!)
- Only add aromatics/aromats in the last hour of stock making in order to maximize the yield (aromatics soak up a lot of liquid from prolonged cooking)
- The stock should be kept at between 180F~190F (82.2C~87.8C) during the
making process, which is below simmering. Therefore…don’t simmer your
stock. (I am in shock…aren’t we all taught to simmer our stock at one point or another? But what is a simmering temperature…has anyone ever asked that?)
- Leeks and its relatives give body to the stock (Something not so noticeable…but worth of exploring. I am guessing the structure comes from the slime in between the layers of leaves)
Have a great weekend chefs!