When learning to cook Quinoa, how to cook Quinoa perfectly for you depends almost entirely on your tastes and normal diet. Keep in mind one of the key things that sets Quinoa apart is it’s flexibility and adaptability. Seems like a no brainer doesn’t it? Yet so many first timers will grab a few recipes, follow them exactly, and never try Quinoa again. Quinoa can yield so many different flavors depending on the seasonings and foods it is prepared with, it’s hard to say if you will like my favorite or that I will like yours. Rather than looking for that perfect recipe from others, step back and consider Quinoa itself, and how to work it in to your normal diet habits and tastes. Think about how Quinoa tastes and what it brings to the dish, and what the dish will bring to the Quinoa. Use the recipes as a guide instead of a script. Quinoa will do it’s job and respond to your changes.
Preparing Quinoa for Cooking – Bringing Out the Right Taste
Many Quinoa products are usually pre-washed before packaging, but since the natural saponin coating can act as a laxative and really messes up the taste, I would recommend running Quinoa under cold water using a strainer or cloth till all the soapiness is gone and the water runs clear. The saponin is a natural coating that helps Quinoa survive because the birds won’t eat the seeds. Trust the birds, you won’t like it either. In fact many Quinoa recipes get ruined from poor or not enough preparation.
Also, many people will soak Quinoa for 2 to 4 hours prior to cooking. Even this short amount of time will allow the seed to begin to germinate. Germination activates its natural enzymes and multiplies Quinoa’s vitamin content. This will also soften the grains, making them suitable to be added to salads and other cold foods. For this article though, remember it also changes the taste slightly, so try a few experiments with and without soaking to learn the difference.
Flavoring Quinoa – How to Cook to Taste
As mentioned earlier, how to cook Quinoa perfectly for you involves matching your cooking to your taste. And, like most things you’ve learned to cook, you will develop your own do’s and don’ts with Quinoa. Try cooking Quinoa with just water at first, much like you would with rice. Two parts water to one part Quinoa, and add Quinoa to boiling water and simmer for 14 to 20 minutes. When you are done, try the taste by itself, with nothing added, both hot and cold. This slightly nutty flavor is the heart of what you will be working with.
You’ll find that to the sensitive palate, Quinoa tastes subtly different when hot vs cold. The same can be said with cooked Quinoa that has been soaked or not soaked as earlier mentioned. As you can see, you now have four different flavors to contribute to your dishes, all without adding anything.
Quinoa tends to assume the flavors of the liquids that are added to it, much like rice in a stir fry. Quinoa responds well by substituting vegetable stock or chicken stock or broth for part or all of the liquid. One can also season the water or liquid, and Quinoa will absorb the flavor as well.
My personal favorites involve using Quinoa to compliment or contrast with other things in my dish. You will find Quinoa compliments bitter tastes like kale and bitter greens. Yet Quinoa contrasts and so compliments sweet tastes like honey or berries. Quinoa cooked with chicken stock can compliment a meal of chicken, or add a surprise to a salad. Quinoa cooked with a bit of garlic for instance will make red pepper pieces and onion prepared separately stand out in a dish. Cook them with the Quinoa and it will absorb their tastes.
With meats or meatless, hot or cold, soaked or unsoaked, seasoned or unseasoned, learning how to cook Quinoa perfectly for you can take some experimenting. Look for the Quinoa how to articles and videos, and Quinoa recipes. Use them as ideas and guides and not as scripts. Because with Quinoa, how to cook Quinoa perfectly is as individual as each of us.