If you are a fan of Anthony Bourdain, then you may think I am refering to the white stuff that goes up one’s nose to aid a long night at work.
But no, I don’t mean cocaine.
The cook’s treat I’m refering to is much cheaper. In fact, it’s free!
If you cook, then you may be familiar with a cook’s treat. It’s a portion of a meal that isn’t dished up but is rather eaten up by the cook. This delicious morsel is gobbled up by the cook and the guests none the wiser. It’s can be considered a reward for the hard work of preparing a meal.
In baking, it is well known that licking the beater and the bowl clean of batter is a compulsory honor reserved for the cook.
A cook’s treat can be an ingredient that is used for flavour (or fat) and then usually discarded. When we were in south east asian, we had the local bbq. A lump of pork fat is used to oil up the cooking surface. As the meal progresses, this lump of fat turns into crackling and whoever dares can pop the entire piece of rendered fat into their gob.
A cook’s treat can be the horribly disfigured non-servable bits that are part of the cooking process. If you roll your own sushi, it’s the end pieces that look a bit worse for wear. You slice up your sushi roll and the end parts somehow don’t make it to the serving platter.
A cook’s treat can refer to perfectly delicious bits that are in small quantities. When there’s not enough to serve everyone so the cook diplomatically polishes off that bit to stem any arguments.
The oysters on a cooked chicken – 2 mouthfuls from the lower back of the most flavourful tender meat. Not enough for everyone to have a bit. The cook had better eat them up before anyone sees and starts a war.
Some of my favourite cook’s treats are:
- Cheese that has oozed out of a toasted sandwich or onto a frying pan
- Caramelised burnt bits in the pan after roasting vegetables or meat if I’m not making gravy from it. Known as “fond“. Yes! there is a word for it!
- Caramelised marrow from roast beef or lamb
- The very first wonton in a batch (got to test if the mixture is perfectly seasoned)
- Cleaning the potato masher (and the pot)
- Cleaning the “dirty” pot after making cheese sauce
- Cooked chickpeas just before they become hummus
- When I worked at my dad’s shop, one of the best cook’s treats we had was deep fried fish skin. Sounds a bit nasty, but was amazing. Imagine super light, crispy, thin, savory chips and you are just about there.
Any other cook’s treats out there that I’ve missed?