|Mise en place for Teriyaki Beef Stir Fry|
|Stir fry, about 12 minutes to cook|
Time sensitive recipes like a stir-fry are a good example; when food cooks quickly and must be added in a certain order. If you have company coming and are serving a dish that must be prepared at the last minute it is very beneficial to have everything prepped before guests arrive. Baking also benefits by say, preventing the use of salt instead of sugar or omitting an ingredient all together.
On cooking shows, TV Chefs use dozens of tiny bowls and ramekins to store measured ingredients they will need for a recipe. Sets of small prep bowls are available but not really necessary. I saw an interesting idea on America's Test Kitchen where they used a muffin tin with paper liners. This makes it easy to remove each from the tin when you're ready for the ingredient. Of course this would not work for liquid where you would use a small drinking glass, custard or measuring cup. Mise en place was taught early in culinary school, I prefer to use my assortment of prep bowls, ramekins and cups. Some may complain about extra dishes and the clean up of piles of tiny bowls used. There are several methods that will lighten the dish load... one, by making little piles on one or two larger plates. Keep each vegetable separate, this will work for the par-cooked vegetables to be all be added at the same time in the top photo. Uncooked veggies, minced herbs etc. can be kept in neat little piles on a cutting board or on another plate.
Another method is to layer all ingredients in one larger bowl. The trick to this method is to put the ingredients in the order you will need for cooking (eg. the one you need first will be on top) and separate each layer with a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap.This way you dirty only one bowl and have extra space on our counter.
Which ever method you choose, the importance of mise en place cannot be over stated for fast and flawless execution of any recipe. If you practice and incorporate this one basic skill before you get started, you will become a more organized and more efficient cook. The experience makes cooking more fun, it is pure joy to see all the colors and textures lined up ready to cook.
Till next week, Bon Appetit!
Photos by Sally Rae