My 10 Kitchen Rules: Kimberley Hernandez, The Silver Birch

My 10 Kitchen Rules: Kimberley Hernandez, The Silver Birch

Head chef Kimberley Hernandez honed her skills in the kitchens of two Michelin-starred restaurants – Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and Mathias Dahlgren’s Matsalen. Formerly at the helm of Andrew Wong’s Kym’s and Soho hotspot Xu, her cooking is informed by her classical training but, these days, is natural and relaxed in style. Now head chef at new restaurant The Silver Birch in Chiswick, Kimberley shares the ten kitchen rules she swears by.

1. Always Save Your Stems

Herb stems have so much flavour. I use them in several ways: either to infuse vinegars (tarragon, marjoram or rosemary), by preserving them in sugar (mint, tarragon or sage) or steeping them straight into syrups made with a 1:2 sugar to water ratio. It makes my at-home cocktails or pastries feel that bit fancier.


Use Gluten-Free Flour For Frying

At Silver Birch, we use a lot of gluten-free flour in our cooking. I love wheat, spelt and rye flours and am far from gluten free myself. However, when it comes to frying, gluten-free flour the texture is much lighter and leaves you feeling a lot less heavy than a traditional batter.


Invest In A Steamer Basket

Having spent some time focusing on Chinese cookery with Andrew Wong and Xu, I learned quite a lot about what steaming can do. Having a steamer basket is an absolute must – outside of using it for cooking dumplings, vegetables or seafood, you can also use it to make steamed sponge cakes and squidgy bao buns.


Master The Japanese Baking Technique Of ‘Tangzhong’ 

‘Tangzhong’ is a trick derived from Japanese baking. The method requires you to take a portion of your flour and liquid and cook it together. You’re left with a paste to incorporate into your bread-baking. This makes a huge difference in the moisture and longevity of your bread, in my opinion. Tangzhong works especially well in sourdough baking. 


Buy Yourself A Pair Of Joyce Chen Scissors

These are fantastic scissors. They save you so much time and last forever. I’ve had a pair for almost 11 years and use them for everything – from cutting through seafood shells like crab and lobster to cutting spring onions without tears.


Ferment, Ferment, Ferment

The fermentation process is fascinating. Not only is it super easy, it creates a whole new dimension of flavour, too. David Zilber and Renee Redzepi of Copenhagen restaurant Noma have a fantastic, easy-to-follow fermentation book for those who are new to it. Essentially, the formula is: salt, product and time. My personal favourites are fermented mustard greens and fermented mushrooms. This is definitely one to experiment with during lockdown.


Season ‘Til Your Mouth Waters

Don’t be scared of salt. When I started cooking, I was trained to season to the point that my mouth waters. This gives you an overview of how to create food your diners will salivate over too.


Boost Your Dishes With Preserved Lemons

These are a must. They are so stunningly fragrant and brighten up any dish instantly. The preservation method requires very few ingredients: salt, lemons, and time. It’s so easy to do, but the rewards are so grand. Try adding some to a chicken and leek pie or a lamb stew.


Use Star Anis To Transform Stocks & Soups 

During my time at Dinner by Heston, I learned about the chemical reaction that happens when you cook onions with a piece of star anise. The synergy that happens from the production of sulphur compounds when these two ingredients meld creates a meaty complexity that boosts multiple forms of cooking, from vegetable stocks to French onion soups and bolognese sauce. Try it.


Do Regular Kitchen Stock Takes

This may sound a bit boring, but it definitely is a long-term saver. Knowing what’s already in your fridge and store cupboard will really help you get creative with cooking and save you from buying the same thing over and over again. As we head into another lockdown, I recommend doing this so you can plan your meals and shop effectively. I always make sure to stock soy sauce (currently my husband and I are hooked on a two-year-aged soy sauce from Japan), olive oil (I’m a huge fan of Aubocassa olive oil at the moment) and maple syrup – it’s not just for pancakes.

142 Chiswick High Road, Chiswick, W4 1PU; while restaurants are closed, The Silver Birch has launched an online delivery service to bring its seasonal, locally sourced British cuisine to homes around London.



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