At home, I get so used to sourcing a specific ingredient. I know how to deal with wild boar now – of all sizes, of all fat content levels. Of both sexes. I know how my stove works and how to control the heat extremely well. Here in Hong Kong – I don’t know my left from right sometimes. The other day – I turned, and I knocked over a bottle of oil. At home – I know my pots and my pans, my kosher salt, finishing salts (mainly fleur de sel and Maldon). I KNOW my ingredients. (Salting btw is the most important thing IMO to bringing out the inherent flavor of the meat – pushing it to the limit of being well seasoned and just before “salty”. Here, I am having some trouble…
Every kitchen I cook in has different salt. I’ve seen mainly coarse salt or very fine (iodized) salt. Or high quality, but must grate yourself (e.g. pink himalayan with a grater). The salt crystals on coarse salts don’t melt properly in a salad for instance – it’s too big. But the grate-yourself is so time consuming. And the small salt in the tubular can never does food justice. And so I didn’t salt the leaves of a salad, and so it tasted…eh.
I have found my food with my same recipes disappointing here. The other day, I made duck ragu. I did not taste the duck’s duckiness to even 50% its potential. Largely because I poorly seasoned it, also I didn’t finish with olive oil so the mouthfeel was not right. And then under-worked homemade pasta dough.
I also made an amatriciana from Citterio smoked pancetta, but because it wasn’t home-made, i’m positive the preservatives made the cured meat taste funny. But I pressed on anyway.
I am thankful I have these days because some days at home I think DAMN this is so good. lol. And yes, it’s important to build on consistency and portions, and etc (e.g. some restaurants always order the same beef portioned out the exact same size, every time). But then it is always good to be put out of your element a bit, and get humbled, and then not only deal with different situations but also different ingredients. For instance, there’s about 10 different types of chickens here in Hong Kong. three meals later, i’m finally happy with something I cooked in Hong Kong.