Foodie Friday, and while I apologize for the link bait title, the topic this week is heat. More specifically, high heat and why it terrifies some people. If you’re going to be a serious cook at all, you must learn to harness the power of high heat. My cooktop puts out more BTU‘s than does my furnace, and I had to relearn to cook on it. Having done so, I can tell you that using the blazing hot setting is a revelation. Turns out it has business implications too!
Ever had something fried that’s just greasy and awful? Of course you have. That probably happened because the cook dunked it in oil that was not hot enough and the food just soaked up the oil instead of getting a crust. You need high heat – well, the PROPER high heat – when you’re frying (if it’s too hot for the oil you’re using, you get a fireball right out of Apocalypse Now but that’s another story).
It’s that way in business too. Some projects need to be nurtured along, using the medium heat setting, just as most foods do better when you use medium to medium-high heat. In the kitchen and in the office, the lower the heat, the more control you have over the process. Lower heat tends to cook food more evenly – all parts of the item are even in temperature at consistent, even rates.
That’s how most projects get done too. But I love using high heat at times in business and while cooking. The reality is that there are only a few specific tasks or foods that ever require hellish levels of intense heat. They end to be the real high-end stuff: pan-seared steaks like T-bone and New York strip or brilliant, temperamental clients. You want to flash-fry certain sides like zucchini or stir fries. You need to blast through great ideas and test them via intense high heat to see if they can stand up. One caution: you have to worry about burning down the house or the office if you don’t pay attention and leave a high intensity effort unattended.
Be judicious about using it. You wouldn’t fry an egg this way. Cooked over high heat the egg becomes crunchy at the edge while too runny in the center, and a chicken breast (putting aside those that are pounded or butterflied and can be cooked in 2 minutes) tossed into a scorching hot pan seizes up and has a stringy texture. Some clients or consumers or partners react badly to intense heat as well and it’s something you need to asses before you ruin the relationship just as you might scorch a sugary marinade in a too-hot pan. Speaking of pans, you must have the right tools – pans that can hold up and a team that can hold up too, but once you know how to use it, it’s intoxicating.
Me? I prefer it hot. I like that I have to pay a lot of attention. I can stand the heat. Can you?