I’m game for most challenges in the kitchen, but there are some things once (or several times) tried that I have decided are better off for the professionals.
1. Pho A former boss, who was Vietnamese, introduced me to Pho. Its a wonderful comfort soup of broth, noodles and other varied ingredients. If you truly make it from scratch, it takes a considerable amount of time and effort (even when using prepackaged noodles). While it tasted fantastic, the local noodle place makes a version just as good and much more cost efficient for a family of four than I can produce at home.
2. Pasta The guitarist in our band and a good friend makes pasta at home all the time. Maybe its patience, maybe its a lack of Italian blood in my veins, but mine never tastes the same as the stuff I can buy at the farmers market. Plus having a broom handle full of drying linguini noodles with a cat in the house is just asking for trouble.
3. Vegetable Stock Many vegetarian and vegan cookbooks will wax poetic about saving those carrot tops, celery leaves, potato peels etc and making your own “stock”. I’ve tried this several times and as the saying goes, your results may vary. I’d rather have a few boxes of store bought stock on hand than a freezer bag sitting in the fridge for weeks with the sad remains of the vegetable day, waiting for stock that may or may not taste as good as the box.
4. Sushi Sushi making is an art form. Sushi chefs aka Itamae train for five years just to be an apprentice and make the rice. There is a reason for this. Support your local Japanese restaurant.
5. Pupusas I can make corn tortillas and tamales with the best of them. Pupusas are another story. I suspect the lack of experience and lack of Salvadorian blood is the main cause of my pupusa failures. The local hole in the wall by my work sells three of them for around 7 dollars. Its worth the walk across the street.
In summary, try everything once. And then leave some of it to the professionals.