I don’t know about you but I sometimes struggle with adding salt when I’m cooking—I will freely admit it. My husband and I don’t add a lot of salt to food and that can make what I cook seem a little tasteless to someone who is used to more. Even if you’re following a recipe, it can be tricky to get the salt right because one person’s idea of perfect season can be too much, or too little, for another. But, my readers, the point of this blog is to help you learn how to play around in the kitchen and cook the way you want to. So don’t let this fact be a barrier to cooking—it’s just one more way you can experiment and find what works best for you.
Again, keep in mind that these are tips and guidelines to help you get the right amount of salt as you cook.
- Taste as You Go (Within Reason) and Taste at the End
The best way to judge whether a dish is over- or underseasoned is to taste the food as you go. Ingredients are salty, some dishes intensify in flavor as they cook, and the saltiness can even diminish if it chills for a while. You shouldn’t taste raw food, of course, but when you can, taste whatever you’re cooking.
And then check the taste at the end, before you serve. This is the best time to make sure it tastes good and then adjust if you need to.
- Remember It’s Easy to Add Salt, No So Easy to Take it Away
While it’s important to salt enough so that the food isn’t bland, it’s also important to have a light hand, especially in the beginning. You can always add salt at the end if you need to, but it’s much more difficult to take salt away.
I usually add either the salt called for in the recipe, or, if I’m winging it, I add less than I think I should. I know I can always add salt if I need to.
- Sprinkle Salt from Above
It’s the trick you’ll see professional chefs use. When you’re salting big slabs of meat or fish or anything, really, sprinkle the salt 10 to 12 inches above the food. You’ll get better salt coverage and spread.
- Remember the Salty Foods
If you’re adding bacon to a dish, chances are you’ll need less salt than a dish without bacon. Boxed or canned chicken brother also has sodium, which is why many recipes calls for reduced sodium chicken broth.
Keeping additional salt in mind when you’re cooking, especially when you’re not using a recipe, is important for achieving a perfectly seasoned dish.
- Flavors Intensify as they Cook
As soups cook, they lose moisture through evaporation, reducing the liquid, and the flavors become more intense. And if a dish was already salty, it will only become saltier.
And a last thought: if you have guests and they still add salt or believe the dish is a little too salty, don’t worry, especially if it was perfect for you. Everyone is different so just go with what you like. (That’s why you put salt and pepper on the table anyway).
Next Friday I’ll be talking about the most common kinds of cooking salt as well as how and when to use them (like, what exactly is a “finishing salt”?.
‘Till next time!