Last week my friend told me she was look at mouthwatering, deliciously juicy pictures of food on Instagram, trying to come up with an idea for dinner. When she looked up it was suddenly an hour later, she felt overwhelmed with all the options, and she hadn’t even opened the fridge or taken out a pan.
She asked me how I decide what to cook because “it looks like a magic trick” when I come up with a great idea for dinner seemingly out of the blue.
Finding an idea is the first of several huge barriers to feeling confident and being successful in the kitchen.
I like to start out with one ingredient and build flavors on top of that. I decide which vegetables and spices to use by thinking of flavors in terms of a world map. Remember, this is a simple model which you can build on later. For now, we will be making a bastardized American version of international cuisine and that is okay because our goal at the beginning is just to get started.
Let’s dig into each of these steps and go over a few examples.
Step 1: Pick a primary ingredient
- I recommend you start out with chicken. It’s a blank canvas ready to pick up whichever flavor builders you decide to add.
- As you become more advanced you can play around with different proteins. Good options I like to work with are steak, pork chops, shrimp, and ground turkey.
- If you are a vegetarian you can pick a bean, a legume, a grain, or a vegetable as your primary ingredient.
Step 2: Pick a county or a region of the world
- This is my favorite part. Where is your chicken travelling to today?
- Pick a country where you know a little bit about the cuisine to make it easier at the beginning.
- Here is a list of some of my go to countries: Italy, Mexico, Thailand, India, China, France, Cuba, Germany, Korea, Japan
Step 3: Pick 1-4 vegetables and 1-2 flavor builders commonly used in that region
- This is where it starts to get tricky if you don’t have a background in cooking. To keep things simple right now, see the list below.
- THIS IS NOT A RECIPE! Feel free to modify and substitute based on your own likes and dislikes.
Step 4: Combine everything using one of our fundamental cooking strategies
- If you are new to The Globe Trotting Chicken Technique I recommend you use the oven to roast the chicken and vegetables. Indirect heat requires less attention and is more forgiving when you make mistakes.
Step 5: Give your dish a fancy name and eat!
- Make your creation sound like something you would order off a restaurant menu.
- You will be more likely to remember it and cook it again in the future.
This guide taught you how to come up with an idea using the Globe-Trotting Chicken Technique. The actionable steps you can take to implement it today are coming up next.
But first, let’s review. You are going to start out with a primary ingredient (I recommend chicken the first time you try this). Pick a country or region of the world. Brainstorm vegetables and flavor builders commonly used in that region. If you start with only 1-4 vegetables and only 1-2 flavor builders your food will taste good. Pick a cooking strategy to combine the ingredients. Go into the kitchen and cook.
The key is to make a decision and take action. Take 5 minutes and do steps 1, 2, and 4 right now!
Your action steps for today:
- Pick a country, pick 2 vegetables, pick 2 flavor builders
- Make up a fancy name for your chicken
- Go to the grocery store and set aside 1 hour this weekend to make your dish
- Tell me the fancy name of your dish in the comments section below. Where is your chicken traveling to today?