How to Cook Vegetables

Many adults (at least in the US) don’t like vegetables. Reasons vary, from the “raw” flavor, to bitterness, to hardness or softness. Pretty much any excuse in the book, and the opposite of each excuse.

The tricks to better veggies are: cooking time, cooling, sugar, salt, and cutting them up.

Americans tend to overcook some vegetables, until they’re squishy soft. Some vegetables taste better cooked a lot less:

  • broccoli
  • green beans
  • spinach

To cook these, you can boil them until they are bright green, and then pull it out of the hot water and place it in cool water. This stops the cooking, leaving you with firmer vegetables.

Some vegetables are a bit bitter, including those above. You can neutralize the bitterness with a pinch of salt, and some butter.

Another way to counteract bitterness is to add a little bit of sugar. Not a lot – just a pinch. I realize we probably don’t have sugar around, but we probably have a couple common sources of sugar:

  • onions
  • apples or other fruit
  • shredded carrot

Chop up some onion, or shred some carrot, and add it to the food you’re preparing early, and it’ll release sugar. You can also use onion and oil or butter to make a sweet, savory sauce.

A quarter onion or quarter apple has around 5 grams of sugar.

Another trick is to use umami and salt to cook it. Umami is basically the flavor of MSG, and the most common way we get natural umami flavors are soy sauce. There are some other sources, like meat stocks, and mushroom stocks. I use a product called Memmi, which is basically a concentrated dashi stock with some soy sauce. It’s also called concentrated “tempura dipping sauce” – exactly same thing, from the same company.

You can cook any vegetable in a broth, and it’ll pick up the flavors.