Inspired by this guy, I tried adding a pinch of baking soda to some onion strings as I sauteed them. Barely two minutes in:
Delicious! They continued to cook down to caramelized, melty deliciousness, and I ate half of them before I got a chance to put them on the pork I was cooking in the other pan. Onions normally take forever to caramelize (though cookbook writers are always optimists), so it's great to have a technique that actually speeds up the cooking.
Baking soda speeds up the Maillard reaction by increasing the pH of the food being cooked. Note that it only takes a pinch– you don't want your dinner tasting like chalk. Other ways to speed up browning:
- Lower the moisture level – pat any meat or veggies dry before they go in the pan.
- Add a little egg and/or sugar.
On a similar , I've been loving The Four-Hour Chef, a Christmas present from my roommate. Whether you're completely terrified of cooking or just want to expand your culinary repotoire, it presents a great framework for thinking about food and a ton of awesome, lifehacky cooking tips.