Weekdays usually whiz by especially when you have a baby to care for, house to clean and cook at the same time! In order to cut my cooking time on weeknights (& also to save my sanity), I usually do my prep work beforehand during the weekends. Here are some of the tips that I practice to save my cooking time in half.
Cut and clean chicken then allocate portions to cook for the week. Store it in zip lock bags (it takes shorter time to thaw compared to storing it in Tupperwares) I usually marinate my meat before storing it in the freezer for the week to save time.
My standard marinade for chicken is ginger + garlic paste, salt, and a dash of turmeric powder – you can use any kind of marinade as you wish (curry powder, chilli boh) I usually use this marinade as it’s very versatile and can be used for almost all dishes.
By marinating beforehand, I can just thaw the chicken in the fridge the night before cooking and it will be ready to be cooked the next day. For quick thawing, I just place the zip lock bags in hot water and it will be ready to be cooked much quicker.
For fish, prawns and squid, same storage method as the chicken. For the fish, you can even marinade the fish with some turmeric powder + salt. For most seafood, just rub some salt + calamansi lime for a minute or two to remove any fishy smell and wash off immediately before cooking.
Cut them up and store in Tupperwares without washing to make sure they stay fresh longer. Soak them in salt water for about 5-10 minutes and rinse off right before cooking.
I always end up with wilted, dried up chillies after a week and find it such a waste. A tried and tested tip – Wash the chillies and dry them completely and remove their stems & store them in a Tupperware (place kitchen paper towel at the bottom to absorb moisture) and add a clove of peeled garlic together with the chillies. The chillies stay fresher much, much longer this way and you can use the same method for cili padi as well.
Another tip I use is to keep a stash of readily available blended shallots, onion and garlic paste which is super versatile to be used in most of Malaysian dishes. I usually stock up for a week along with dried chilli paste as well, which I will be sharing in the next post, so stay tuned!