Those of us who are less-than-decent cooks know the feeling. You spend several precious minutes slaving over a hot stove/microwave only to sit down to a meal they wouldn’t even serve on a budget airline.
Well, according to food critic Helen Rosner of Eater, there’s a very simple way to rescue your culinary catastrophe. And it only involves one ingredient.
Okay, so technically that's two ingredients. But you get the drift.
If you've ever watched even three minutes of Masterchef or My Kitchen Rules, you will understand where Rosner is coming from: a successful dish is all about "balance". Sweet desserts must never be plated without some kind of salty crumb, crunch or tuille. And salty mains must have a...(how would Matt Preston put it?)... hit of acid.
But behind all this fancy foodie talk lies some actual scientific merit.
As Lee Havlicek explained on Slate, lemon and salt increase saliva; they literally make food more mouth watering.
"Since tasting depends on saliva’s power as a solvent, the presence of saliva on your tongue is necessary for your taste buds, and therefore your brain, to perceive flavour," he wrote. "The upshot is that a squeeze of lemon is as good as a dash of salt in bringing out the flavour of just about any food."
Julie Goodwin shares her two go-to cheat meals. Post continues below.
Of course, you can overdo both. Which is part of the reason it's better to add salt and lemon to food after cooking.
Also, as Havlicek noted, "Cooking lemon for a long period of time will concentrate the flavour and can make it bitter. It can also dull the colour of vegetables if added too soon, whereas it will brighten colour if added at the end."
What's your favourite culinary hack? Tell us in the comments below.