A food processor is really the modern kitchen hand, as it can help tackle all sorts of kitchen tasks at the touch of a button. Having a food processor saves a lot of time and energy in preparing food, and here are 5 ways that this great invention can magically in a few seconds, perform a task that traditionally would take a lot of time.
Chop or Grind Meat
The food processor is great for chopping or grinding meat at home. When you grind your own meat, you can ensure the quality and freshness of the meat used. You also get to choose the type of cuts used, and the proportion of fat in the ground or minced meat.
Traditionally in many Asian homes, minced meat was made by chopping the meat on a chopping board with a cleaver. The task would take a fair amount of time and a lot of arm stength to carry out. Now, with the food processor, chopping or grinding meat can be done easily at a fraction of the time and energy.
To grind meat in a food processor, just cut the meat into one-inch cubes and spread out in a single layer on a metal tray or in a container. Place the meat in the freezer for 20 – 30 minutes. Well-chilled meat and fat cut up better and cleaner in the food processor. It helps to chill the blade of the food processor as well. Grind the meat by using the pulse function of the food processor; do not turn on the food processor and let it run continuously or you will not get the desired loose texture of ground meat. It is important to process the meat in short spurts and to not over-process the meat. Do this until the meat it reaches the desired degree of fineness.
Make Fish or Meat Paste
In an Asian kitchen, one of the most useful things a food processor can be used for is to make fish paste, especially if it is a large batch. The food processor produces fish paste that is finely textured and smooth.
To make fish paste, follow any recipe that you have that uses a food processor, or simply place fish fillets (use fish such as wolf herring or mackerel) in a food processor and pulse until the fish is chopped up. Add some salt and cold water and process continuously until a springy, elastic paste is formed. White pepper and a starch such as tapioca or cornstarch may be added according to recipe. Fish paste is wonderful when made into fish balls, for making ‘yong tau foo’ or used in making dim sum.
In a similar way, meat such as chicken can be made into a paste and used in place of fish. In Western recipes, breadcrumbs, herbs and seasonings can be added to chicken paste and used in sausages rolls or made into meatloaf.
Chop, Slice, Shred and Grate Vegetables
The food processor comes with a cutting blade for chopping, and various attachments that allow vegetables to be sliced, shredded and grated.
All sorts of vegetables can be run through a food processor to save time and energy compared to chopping them up by hand.
Use the chopping blade to chop garlic, onion and shallots and the slicing blade (attached to the slicing disc) to slice potatoes, carrots, cabbage and cucumber while the shredding disc can be used for shredding carrots, jicama (‘bangkuang’), and other root vegetables. Some food processors come with a grating disc that enables grating of coconut and items like hard cheese.
So, turn to a food processor when you are cooking for a crowd because that’s when you can save time and concentrate your efforts on the cooking process instead.
When a recipe for making pastry calls for butter to be rubbed into flour (often known as the ‘rubbing in method’), it entails rubbing butter and flour together with the fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
This method often requires cold butter to be cut into small cubes and rubbing in deftly with the fingertips so that the butter does not soften or melt in the process. Only then, can small bits of butter be enveloped in flour and melt when baked, to create flaky pastry.
The job of making pastry this way is far easier and quicker to do in a food processor, especially in a warm kitchen, as the blade of the food processor cuts the butter quickly without warming up the butter. The trick is to always press the pulse button only, so that the rubbing in is controlled. If the food processor is run continuously, the risk is that the butter will melt and the dough will bind together and become over-processed, which goes against the aim of this method.
The rubbing in method is usually used for making shortcrust pastry, biscuits and scones in large quantities at a fraction of the time, compared to rubbing in with the fingertips or with a pastry blender.
Make Homemade Breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs are easily store-bought, but homemade breadcrumbs taste better and can be made easily at any time they are required. Save up leftover bread by wrapping it well and storing it in the freezer. Only save bread that is still fresh-tasting though, as you would not want stale-tasting bread crumbs.
When u require breadcrumbs, just take out the frozen bread and dry in a slow oven. ‘Bake’ until the bread is medium-hard. Do not bake until the bread is brown. When the bread is ready, leave to cool and process in the food processor to the desired fineness. Use the breadcrumbs in any recipe that calls for it.
Check out the various models of Panasonic food processors in the market! The latest launch of the Panasonic MK-F800 processor has a 2.5 litre bowl and 5 pre-programmed functions on the touch glass menu, for added convenience. This multi-tasking whizz comes with 13 attachments, enabling a total of 33 function and has a variable speed dial, providing greater user control. Plus, it comes with a useful box for storing the attachments, creating a very streamlined design.