What is the best brand of fish sauce?

Red Boat FTW. It's premium stuff, it wins accolades for a reason. It comes from the island of Phu Quoc, which is known for its fish sauce. They use anchovies that are only found off the waters of this island, and their fish sauce has no artificial anything in it. It's got 2 ingredients: anchovies and salt. That's it. Look at the ingredients label of other brands and they have filler garbage like fructose and other grossness.

Red Boat Fish Sauce First Press from Phu Quoc

Once you go Red Boat, you can't go back.

What are all of the different grilling techniques?

For me there are only 2 different Grilling techniques:

Direct grilling refers to the method whereby you cook directly over hot coals usually with the cover off to maintain optimum temperature of the coals.  This is true grilling because the essence of grilling involves the quick searing of the surface of the food.  This ensures the charring and caramelizing that defines grilled food.

Indirect grilling is not true grilling, it's really more like oven roasting, but done outdoors on a grill. This usually is called Barbecue in the US (which is tricky for Europeans where BBQ = Direct Grilling). For this method the coals are heaped on one or two sides of the grill with an open space between them and often separated by a drip pan. The food is placed in the center or on the side of the grill and cooks indirectly with the grill covered to build up enough heat to roast the food. Smoking is an indirect grilling technique, see this question for more answers: What are the best smoking techniques?

What is a good ceramic kitchen knife?

Kyocera. I have a chef's knife, santoku, paring knife and a serrated tomato knife. They are lightweight and stay sharp. The thin blades are especially good for slicing and chopping vegetables and fruits. I bought a knockoff once, but the quality wasn't good.

I haven't had any breakage problems, but I'm careful with my knives, washing and drying them as soon as I'm finished using them and never put them in a drawer. I have a wooden knife block on the counter and the knives are either in use or in the block all the time. Chefscatalog.com has a knife sharpener for ceramic knives made by Kyocera.

Are baking oil, lard, butter, or shortening interchangeable?

It depends on the recipe. 

In baking, often the fats are not completely interchangeable because a recipe will call for a fat based on whether or not it is solid or liquid at a given temperature.  Making a substitution without regard for this could significantly alter the texture of the finished product, perhaps rendering a confection that was supposed to be fluffy into a solid and unappealing lump.  Shortcrust pastry (ie pie crust) is a common example of this.

For other uses they may be interchangeable for example to melt and use for frying or poaching.  To grease a baking pan, presumably any fat you can manage to coat the intended surfaces with will do.

Everything I've written so far is without regard for taste, which is arguably the most important consideration for which these fats are very often not interchangeable.  Having greased a brownie pan with duck fat I can tell you that it does make a small but non-trivial difference. (It is especially non-trivial to vegetarians.)

What's the best way to caramelize onions?

If you want to cheat and "caramelize" onions more quickly, add a pinch of baking soda. It speeds up the Maillard reaction because it is a base, and raises the pH of the mixture.

See (http://blog.khymos.org/2008/09/2…) or (http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/…)

What is a laser thermometer?

A "laser" thermometer is a thermometer which takes directional readings of temperature derived from IR emissions.  It does not directly make use of a laser, but many of them have a red diode laser (similar to those found in laser pointers) mounted on them which is triggered when the device is used to make a measurement; this laser is used for aiming the device at a particular surface.

These devices are useful for cooking, evaluating the efficiency and performance of HVAC systems, and are generally novel (if rather expensive) toys.

I personally own the following model: http://www.amazon.com/BonJour-Ch… as does Quora co-founder Adam D'Angelo.

How do you make the best pizza dough?

You need wheat flour, water, yeast and salt. I also use a bit of olive oil.

The wheat flour would be labeled "typo 00" in Italy, which means it has a lot of gluten and a high protein content. (I don't know the US categories, so someone might want one to suggest an edit here and add this information).

Use a mixer with dough hooks.

If you use fresh yeast:

  • Dissolve 20-25 g of yeast in 300 ml water at room temperature (a fork helps)
  • Put 500 g of wheat flour in a bowl
  • Start mixing and add the water with the yeast in small portions. Mix thoroughly – it takes time!

If you use dry yeast:

  • Put 500 g of wheat flour in a bowl and add the dried yeast. Blend with a fork. Move the mix to the margins of the bowl to create a pit in the middle.
  • Pour 300 ml of water at room temperature into the pit.
  • Start mixing in the center of the bowl, collecting the flour mix from the rim in small portions. Mix thoroughly—it takes time!

Continue (in both cases) like this:

  • The dough is supposed to be elastic; if not add some more flour or water, but only very little at once! It is OK when your mixing machine starts to protest.
  • Let the dough rest for a few minutes.
  • Then add a tea spoon of salt to the bowl and a table spoon of olive oil. Knead the dough with your hands for five minutes so that salt and oil are slowly worked into it. If do it with clean hands, the dough won't stick to them when your finished.
  • Put a towel on the bowl and let the dough prove at room temperature for app. 90 minutes. Alternatively, you can put wrap on the bowl and let it prove in your fridge (make sure to have enough headroom!). It will prove within 4 hours there and stay fresh for more than 48 hours, so you can prepare your dough days before.

If your ready for your pizza production, make four (thick) to six (thin) portions and roll the dough on plenty of wheat flour to the size you like. Roll it immediately before the pizza goes into the oven; if you can cook only one or two at a time, have the other dough balls covered with your towel.

Pizza is all about heat. Heat your oven to the max, put the pizza onto a solid oven tray (pre-heat it if you can) and use one of the bottom slots. Don't overload it with ingredients.

Enjoy!

What is a good fresh salsa recipe?

Why does everyone keep wanting me to answer this?  The salsa that we gave to Quora User was something we threw together and did not resemble any of the recipes we found on the web.  I have absolutely no expertise in salsa-making.  If I remember correctly, it was something like:

  • Chop up a bunch of Roma tomatoes (four maybe?)
  • Chop up like, one onion
  • Chop up a jalapeno pepper
  • Add some fresh-ground pepper
  • Mix all of it together
  • Store it in the refrigerator overnight, which seems to improve it

I think the key was really that we had fresh organic (?) tomatoes that we'd acquired that day.