Before you start to create tasty food that’s full of flavour for those of you who haven’t yet discovered the importance of salt, I just wanted to add a few notes……
Being able to season properly with salt is the single most important skill a cook must have if they want their food to taste its best.
No matter how many fantastic ingredients and herbs you use in a dish, if the dish is under -seasoned it will taste bland and incomplete!
The dish obviously has to be made with the best ingredients, cooked in the best way and pared with complementing flavours but if it lacks seasoning it makes the difference between a good dish and a great dish!
Salt releases molecules within food that would otherwise be locked away. Some of these molecules are released into the air helping with the aroma of food and which is also important to our perception of flavour.
Taste and flavour are 2 different things
Taste is something we detect on the tongue and salty is one of them along with sweet, sour, bitter & umami.
Flavour is a sensation within our brains created by a combination of taste, smell, sound, temperature, sight and interoception (a sense stimulated from within the body)
Salt not only satisfies one of our tastes but it also enhances the smell of food which in turn enhances the flavour within our brain.
Some basics on how to use salt
Rule 1… You can add salt but you can’t take it away!
A dish that is under-seasoned will not be at its full potential but a dish that is over seasoned is inedible!
Add salt a little at a time tasting between additions. Over time as long as you always taste your food after the addition of salt you will become better at judging how much salt to add at a time.
Most foods benefit from being seasoned generously at the start, again add a little at a time until you can taste the presence of salt. Then adjust the seasoning at the end.
Anything that will be reduced (simmered or boiled to concentrate the favour) should only be seasoned lightly at the start.
What salts to use
There are many different types of salt: sea salt, kosher salt and table salt to name a few.
For general purpose seasoning a good quality sea salt is fine, Malden (a flaked sea salt) being one of the more easily available. I will be using this in the seasoning of my recipes unless stated otherwise. After seasoning with this salt give it a couple of minutes before tasting as the crystals don’t dissolve immediately.
Sea salt is fine for seasoning but is not good for pickling as it contains trace minerals that can discolour food.
Kosher salt is a good all purpose salt as it can be used for everything including seasoning, pickling & curing as it contains no iodine. Any salt used for curing should not contain iodine as it can make cured meat for instance taste bitter.
Avoid table salts as they contain anti-caking agents that have no benefit for cooking with and can leave a chemical aftertaste and make clear soups such as consommés cloudy.
Consuming excess salt is linked to raised blood pressure.
If you are healthy and have no problems with blood pressure, then eating properly seasoned home made food will do your body zero harm.
Someone who eats home made well seasoned food would not be consuming what’s considered ‘excess salt’.
Consuming excess salt is usually a factor of eating processed foods and ready meals.
Without salt our body’s could not function and consuming a lack of salt in our diets would cause dehydrated at the least.
Don’t be afraid to season correctly, it wont do your body any harm!
However, If you’ve been advised by your doctor to cut down on salt, then you should take their advice.