Most of us start cooking by following recipes. These lay out the ingredients you need, how much you need, how to cut each one, how to combine them together. And, sure, you can often get a tasty meal as a result.
There’s so much more excitement waiting for you in the kitchen, though.
I found the real joy in cooking comes when you aren’t constrained to those recipes, when you let your creativity inspire you, when you embrace the freedom of going on your own culinary adventure. Then, a whole new world opens up. You get to choose the flavors and craft a dish to your own tastes; your own inspired creation. You can get as wild as you want with your combinations.
Breaking out to the world of experimentation in the kitchen can, at first, seem a bit daunting, especially if you’ve grown up following the rules of recipes. But, believe me, it’s worth it.
So, how do you start cooking more creatively?
How do you embrace the uncertainty in embarking on a meal without a recipe to guide you?
We spoke with Jose Salazar—chef and owner of Cincinnati, Ohio, restaurants Salazar and Mita’s—about how to (successfully) incorporate more creativity into our cooking. His own inspiration comes from “an ingredient or the seasons,” starting with something “that’s in season and then building off that.” When you have fresh, quality ingredients, you can let them shine.
Consider checking out a local farmers market to see what local ingredients catch your eye. The inspiration for your next great meal might be waiting for you.
Chef Jose Salazar’s recommendation if you want to start experimenting more in your own kitchen: “Build a good pantry.” He said, “I like to have a couple different salts, vinegars, and oils to choose from. Some are good for cooking, and others are better to finish dishes.” Also, “fermenting and pickling are good ways to get a different flavor into your foods. Start with simple things, such as sauerkraut and basic brines.”
With the start of a new year, it’s the perfect time to start taking more chances in the kitchen. So, stock up your pantry with a selection of salts, vinegars, oils, and seasonal ingredients, and, when the inspiration strikes, use them to create exciting flavors in your next dish.