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Old 03-17-2006, 08:01 PM   #1
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Salt & Pepper to taste

Where do you start? how do you know when it's right?

All I can tell is when there's too much

I'm confused

brad

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Old 03-17-2006, 08:49 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom of the Kitchen
Where do you start? how do you know when it's right?

All I can tell is when there's too much

I'm confused

brad
You stop when the amount you add makes the food the most appealing when you taste it. That's really all anyone can tell you since people have different levels of tolerance to each. It's trial and error and you have to constantly do it so that you'll get a feel for it. Once that happens, you'll approach the dish with an innate understanding of how it should taste, how it should be seasoned, etc. Cooking is a skill and like any skill you have to practice each and every component. Seasoning is one component. If you're having further trouble, take notes of each dish and use measurements so you have something to fall back on. Maybe 1 1/2 tsp. of salt was a bit too much, so the next time you make the dish you scale back to 1 tsp., then add salt by the pinchfull until you get the taste you want.

One tip that I can give you is that in many cases, season more so throughout the cooking process with salt only, and pepper the dish only at the end or near the end of the cooking process. If you watch Emerill, he uses black pepper on everything and at every seasoning point. By using just salt, it gives you more control over the flavors of the dish and it gives you more leeway as well. Whereas salt will draw out more flavor from almost any food, pepper can often work negatively and mask many flavors.
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Old 03-17-2006, 11:44 PM   #3
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I've been cooking for 40 years, and this is a difficult one for many of us. As I've gotten older, many of my friends cannot have a lot of salt. So I went the other way and quit salting at all while I was cooking and felt I was putting pablum on the table. Now I salt until I feel it needs just a little bit more (I'm an admitted salt-o-holic), and everyone loves it. But it takes time and TASTING. Many home cooks I know simply do not taste often enough. Sometimes I arrive at my own dinner table not hungry at all, but my guests are always satisfied.

As for pepper, I keep a grinder each in my kitchen and dining room, and as far as I'm concerned there's never too much fresh ground pepper. But that's just me!
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Old 03-18-2006, 11:14 AM   #4
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ironchef said it perfectly! So much more eloquent than what I was going to type
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Old 03-18-2006, 03:07 PM   #5
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yup, well said ic.

salting is especially an ambiguous element because of individual taste. i used to be a salt-oholic. my french fries looked like they were snow covered i used to put so much on.

but for health reasons i cut way back on salt, to the point of almost not using it at all. now i can taste salt in just about everything. things like white bread and canned soups taste so salty to me now that i can't eat them. my tongue feels chemically burnt after eating them.

so, if i want to taste salt, but don't want too much in my diet, i put it in or on the food at the very end, as i'm about to put it in my mouth. maximum flavor, minimum amount of salt.
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Old 03-18-2006, 04:27 PM   #6
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Because I like a salty taste, and because, like Claire said, not salting the dish at all while cooking made for bland food, I salt sparingly while cooking. If it tastes like it still could use a bit of salt, I leave it at that. Then I can add some more at the table since I love the taste of salt.

How long did it take you to not crave that salty taste, bucky?

BC
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Old 03-18-2006, 05:17 PM   #7
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To me 'to taste' means it isn't really needed. That means that I leave out the 'salt and pepper to taste', because I don't like salt added to anything and pepper - well, maybe, if I think the recipe needs oomph. If other people are eating my food, and they are saltaholics, they can sprinkle on their own at the table. But it brings tears to my eyes when they do it - why ruin the flavour of foods like that??
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Old 03-18-2006, 05:23 PM   #8
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Salt is a very important part of cooking. Yes too much salt is a bad thing, but not enough salt is equally as bad (tastewise that is). If you do not add salt to your food and your guest then add a little at the table then they are probably not ruining the flavor of the food, but actually enhancing it.
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Old 03-18-2006, 05:33 PM   #9
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Baking specifies the amount and usually means it. Cooking does not...season before browning, season after frying. Well start with a good pinch or two (depending on how much you're seasoning. A pinch is what you can grab between two or three fingers. Kosher salt is popular with cooks because it is flaked and easy to grab, is mild due to its shape, and a pinch or 1/2 tspn is less salt than if you used fine crystals (like morton) . It is also not iodized so it tastes better. Grind your pepper fresh and it's hard to go overboard.
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Old 03-18-2006, 05:46 PM   #10
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Its a great question.
I agree with the answers suggested above. Well said stuff.

I notice that my personal variations of what tastes right has changed more than once...I enjoy noticing my changes over time. It is the noticing thats a bonus when you do change.

I started out fairly salty. Too much actually. Went through a 15 year peroid or so of almost no seasoniong. Have now drifted over to moderate.

I think my cooking is better with moderate seasoning, but I save the heavy lifting for the hot sauces, and steak sauces.
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