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Season to taste: discuss


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I started cooking with Julia's Mastering volumes. Recipes state a measure of salt and tell you to adjust seasoning. I've always been pretty good about hitting the right saltiness note. Then I started cooking rice frequently - just plain white - lots of options in local ethnic stores. I also talked to my neighbors who do rice daily - one Taiwanese, the other Thai. No salt. I had not thought before about the saltiness of the other dishes and plain unsalted rice  - the way it all works together. 

 

It was Jo here who brought it to mind with this post  https://forums.egullet.org/topic/163549-dinner-2022/?do=findComment&comment=2356096

 

Over the years I have come to rely more on other ingredients with a saltiness that adds flavor/umami - fish sauce, soy sauce, the maligned green can parmesan. Also salty preserved items like kimchi. I do salt my pasta water and I taste as  go with dishes - sometimes salt (or sugar!) is the pinch needed. 

 

Curious about your experiences - if any of this makes sense.

 

 

 

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we don't use much salt in the home cooking - which really shows up unpleasantly when we go out. 

most of the dishes are way over salted for our tastes....

 

not a dietary restriction type thing - just low salt user tastes . . .

 

I hear there's a 12 step program for the green can problem.....

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I tend to prefer less salt as well, generally starting with 1/4 to 1/2 of cookbook specs for salt, soy or fish sauce, miso. 
If a finished dish needs additional seasoning, I might go for a sprinkle of crunchy sea salt but am equally likely to add a salty ingredient or condiment: feta, preserved lemon, olives, Parm, etc. 

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I used to use no salt in rice, but recently have found that I like to add a little bit during cooking.  But it depends on the application.  I don't treat Mexican rice as I would rice for red beans and rice.  Sometimes you want a contrast and sometimes you want more homogeneity.

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1 hour ago, AlaMoi said:

I hear there's a 12 step program for the green can problem.....

Oh I know the good stuff from Italy.  The Italian deli market up on Western & Sunset had the wheel on a butcher block and cut to order. I was young and cute - the brothers always gave me more of a center cut. Green can is its own salty condiment thing.

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It's a balance of "season as you go" and "season at table".    Using essentially no packaged products and seldom following recipes as written, home cooked food is not a problem.   Restaurants vary all over the board.   

 

That said, I am addicted to Maldon salt.    Huge dressing flakes that make dishes pop.    i.e., undersalt until table then Maldon.

eGullet member #80.

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10 minutes ago, cdh said:

Sorry to all the salt haters but things not seasoned _at the right time_ are much less fun to eat.  Try adding popcorn salt to a bag of unseasoned potato chips. 

I agree 100% on timing. Also the value of boiling some (not all) veg in salted water vs steaming. 
 

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1 minute ago, blue_dolphin said:

I agree 100% on timing. Also the value of boiling some (not all) veg in salted water vs steaming. 
 

I agree it is a process. In an attempt to clean out last of my stuff in veg drawer before a shop tomorrow I wanted to finish up carrots. One poor soul had sprouted white "greenery" Simmered in a bit of chicken powder. Not salty enough but they absorbed some, Then the dressing in stages was fish sauce, spicy mustard for the salt. Added while warm and open to absorption. I am not anti salt by any means - just have learned to value layering flavors.

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I remember using Harrod's food hall deli as a major food source when we were hanging out in London.   Most purchases were close to inedible.    Flat, insipid, pap.   Then we introduced salt.    YES!    It's all a matter of taste and palate expectation.  

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2 hours ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

It's a balance of "season as you go" and "season at table".    Using essentially no packaged products and seldom following recipes as written, home cooked food is not a problem.   Restaurants vary all over the board.   

 

That said, I am addicted to Maldon salt.    Huge dressing flakes that make dishes pop.    i.e., undersalt until table then Maldon.

 

I had a big bag of sea salt until I spilled it.

 

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5 hours ago, heidih said:

I started cooking with Julia's Mastering volumes. Recipes state a measure of salt and tell you to adjust seasoning. I've always been pretty good about hitting the right saltiness note. Then I started cooking rice frequently - just plain white - lots of options in local ethnic stores. I also talked to my neighbors who do rice daily - one Taiwanese, the other Thai. No salt. I had not thought before about the saltiness of the other dishes and plain unsalted rice  - the way it all works together. 

 

It was Jo here who brought it to mind with this post  https://forums.egullet.org/topic/163549-dinner-2022/?do=findComment&comment=2356096

 

Over the years I have come to rely more on other ingredients with a saltiness that adds flavor/umami - fish sauce, soy sauce, the maligned green can parmesan. Also salty preserved items like kimchi. I do salt my pasta water and I taste as  go with dishes - sometimes salt (or sugar!) is the pinch needed. 

 

Curious about your experiences - if any of this makes sense.

 

 

 

 

Thinking about it, I never add salt to rice or wild rice, except perhaps when making risotto or paella.  Nor do I add salt when cooking green vegetables, as best I can recall.  My bread is typically half as salty as called for by the recipe.  Always I liberally salt meat before cooking, as I do Rancho Gordo beans, and I'm not ashamed to put salt on salted nuts.  I've been known to eat salt out of the container as my granddaughter would sugar.

 

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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5 minutes ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

You spill my box of Maldon salt and we call 911!

 

There was still some sea salt left but I haven't found it for a couple years.

 

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Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 My bread is typically half as salty as called for by the recipe.  

Reminds me of first reading about Tuscan unsalted bread. In retrospect maybe that low salt is balanced by the more salty dishes/sauces.  At some point I realized i was maybe using salt to make not so great stuff ok.  My sister when she comes from OZ to US craves Mexican. She was stuffed and about to fly out so invited me to eat her leftovers. Two bits in my mouth puckered and I pitched it. I've heard people complain at the free chips and salsa expected at Mexican places saying chips not salted. Duh glutton - you shoveled them in (free!) and did not balance with the salsa. 

 

On the bread - internet tells tales of salt taxes, the Papacy etc but this quote makes sense in terms of this discussion  “Tuscans make saltless bread as everything else is very salty. Cured ham is so salty that we usually eat it with saltless bread and figs that counterbalance the taste. Plus, saltless bread lasts longer.” 

Edited by heidih (log)
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2 minutes ago, heidih said:

Reminds me of first reading about Tuscan unsalted bread. In retrospect maybe that low salt is balanced by the more salty dishes/sauces.  At some point I realized i was maybe using salt to make not so great stuff ok.  My sister when she comes from OZ to US craves Mexican. She was stuffed and about to fly out so invited me to eat her leftovers. Two bits in my mouth puckered and I pitched it. I've heard people complain at the free chips and salsa expected at Mexican places saying chips not salted. Duh glutton - you shoveled them in (free!) and did not balance with the salsa. 

 

The current issue of National Geographic History has an article on Dante Alighieri and unsalted bread.  At least it touches on the topic of unsalted bread.  I can't stand unsalted bread myself but I far prefer it to overly salted bread...there is special circle of hell.

 

 

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Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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2 hours ago, heidih said:

saltless bread lasts longer

I find that impossible to believe. Maybe if it's got no flavour it lasts a long time because no one wants to eat it but this sounds like rubbish microbiology to me.

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6 hours ago, FlashJack said:

I find that impossible to believe. Maybe if it's got no flavour it lasts a long time because no one wants to eat it but this sounds like rubbish microbiology to me.

Perhaps it is not the presence or absence of salt that accounts for the longer shelf life but good shelf life seems to be a characteristic of DOP Tuscan bread. 

Here.

 

“As well as being unsalted, Tuscan bread has some characteristics that make it unique: it has the typical aroma of toasted hazelnut, a crumbly and crunchy crust with a golden, opaque hazelnut color, and excellent shelf life.”

Edited by Anna N
To add quote from link. (log)

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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11 hours ago, Anna N said:

Perhaps it is not the presence or absence of salt

That's a view I can share -- that longevity is related to a lot of interacting variables. To my mind, salt would tend to increase keeping quality but the absence of salt might well be countered by other factors: flour characteristics, water, humidity and other environmental considerations.

 

I'm sceptical of an assertion that saltlessness in itself promotes keeping quality.

 

We agree 🙂

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The post quote was out of context. I did not make the statement - it was an excised part of a quote I posted from an article. Redaction in action (I know that is not correct meaning of redacted but I could not stop my fingers)

 

As to the Tuscan saltless bread - never had it - just read about in 1000 Days In Tuscanyn  https://sweetrevivalrecipes.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/schiacciata-toscana-tuscan-flatbread/ Many variations but that is one recipe she gave.

 

 

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Saltless bread doesn't exist only in Tuscany.  Much of central Italy, in fact, makes bread that may be sans salt.

 

https://www.italymagazine.com/featured-story/italys-traditional-saltless-bread-guide-uninitiated

 

 

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I don't use a lot of salt in my cooking and when I do follow some recipes I regret not reducing the salt level. But  I did discover that my salads taste better if I lightly salt each layer as I am making it.  I have started to try to be a little less conservative with salt in most things now..  I am curious about saltless Tuscan bread.  I'll have to look up the recipe and try it.  I like to use canning and pickling salt because it is pure salt with no additives and (I think) not as "salty". It dissolves quicker so I don't use it when kosher or large grain sea salt is a better idea.  I have not tried very many other speciality salts.

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I find a lot of breads need salt. Likewise sweets.

 

Sauces need to taste a little too salty on a spoon so that they will be just right on a plate.

 

I salt meat before cooking and at serving.

 

 

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Just now, gfweb said:

I find a lot of breads need salt. Likewise sweets.

 

When I started adding more salt to my holiday baking I started getting "best ever" remarks. 

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