His latest book, the Keys to Good Cooking, is a how-to guide for home chefs in which McGee, a food science expert, explains techniques for kicking recipes up a few notches. McGee details why people perceive flavors differently, offers his thoughts on seasonings and explains why searing meat doesn't seal in the juices.
McGee joins Fresh Air's Terry Gross to offer advice for harried home cooks wondering whether it's safe to eat that shrimp in the back of the freezer (maybe) or whether it's worth it to buy that fancy new appliance (also maybe). Among the nuggets of wisdom he shares:
On the efficiency of gas vs. electric stovetops: “Many of us interested in cooking put a premium on big burners — powerful burners that are going to pump out a hot of heat so we can get woks really, really hot. It turns out that gas burners, as we all know from working with them and looking at them, actually send a lot of their heat into the kitchen instead of the food, just by the fact that it's an open flame. So most of the energy generated in a gas flame actually goes elsewhere than the food. In the case of a very ordinary electric stove, they're much more efficient. Even though their power rating may be lower than a fancy gas burner, they'll bring a pot to boil much faster.”