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Season to taste: discuss


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43 minutes ago, MaryIsobel said:

Molly Baz of Bon Appetit uses copious amounts of salt and claims it is necessary. I woud like to taste one of her dishes to see for myself.

I think most people have different salt tolerances based on what their bodies have become accustomed to.

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35 minutes ago, Norm Matthews said:

I think most people have different salt tolerances based on what their bodies have become accustomed to.

And they change over time in some cases. As those hormones change ;)  Also our palates becomemore attuned to different tastes and nuance - maybe -

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1 hour ago, heidih said:

And they change over time in some cases. As those hormones change ;)  Also our palates becomemore attuned to different tastes and nuance - maybe -

I got used to less salt in my food when I married a Korean.  I also got used to not having bread and potatoes every day. :)

 

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16 minutes ago, Norm Matthews said:

I got used to less salt in my food when I married a Korean.  I also got used to not having bread and potatoes every day. :)

 

Ha! I got used to cows feet, shark, homemade coconut milk, cassava, and peas in the rice when I married a Panamanian :)  

 

I have an occasional hankering for Fritos (Scoops) with guacamole, These days I enjoy it more with extra lime the guac and little salt to balance the chips. A taste versus any health preference.

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Related: There should be a law against chefs being smokers because that reduces your sensitivity to salt. At the least they should seek feedback from non-smokers rather than saying, "Home cooks always under-salt."

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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18 minutes ago, haresfur said:

Related: There should be a law against chefs being smokers because that reduces your sensitivity to salt. At the least they should seek feedback from non-smokers rather than saying, "Home cooks always under-salt."

I have read about so many famous chefs that smoke  - I don't know about the salt insensitivity. But as often discussed about restaurant food there is the co-dependency on tasty fats that may affect how salt is perceived.

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Isn't it received wisdom that the difference between home and restaurant cooking is that restaurants use more salt and more fat, generally butter. Our palates generally respond to hyping things up.

 

When I worked in a pub kitchen *nothing* passed by without a smattering of last-minute salt. Nothing.

 

I agree especially about salt layering in salads. A pinch. And a final touch of acid. Within reason, more is more.

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Saltless bread should come with a big printed warning label. Unless you're planning to cover it with prosciutto or aged cheese, it's the most disappointing thing ever invented.

 

I find most food needs around 1% salt in order to taste like anything at all. This includes salts naturally resident in the ingredients (meats and dairy already have a salt content around half of this). I use a small amount of salt in almost every dessert. And always on green vegetables. You won't taste the salt ... it just brings the other flavors into focus.

 

Rice is an exception. I stick with tradition there. And it always gets eaten with other things that bring the seasoning with them.

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Notes from the underbelly

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I don't put salt in my rice as I cook mostly SE Asian style. The rice is indeed a sort of blank canvas to the highly seasoned dish that goes with it.

I don't cook with salt, but I do ;) as I use soy sauce, fish sauce etc, but also a lot of spices.

Bread needs salt in my opinion. It tastes better and makes for an easier to work with dough.

I live in a hot climate and in comparison with people born an raised here (Southern-Central Africa), I'm a low salt user. But my salt usage is much higher than when I lived in NE Europe.

Oh, and my meat rubs etc are without salt. Not because I don't use salt, but I like highly spiced. I salt seperately

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This just popped up - maybe paywalll https://www.newyorker.com/culture/kitchen-notes/the-recipe-convention-that-dooms-home-cooks? Not sure I agree. "You may have scrupulously sweated onions until translucent and simmered lentils until soft, but if you serve your resulting soup without sufficient lemon and salt, or with too much, then the rest of your effort was for naught. So it’s a shame that for this pivotal step—after you’ve applied the prescribed teaspoons and tablespoons but before you deem the dish ready to serve—we cookbook writers tend to abandon readers with the murky dictum “season to taste.” 

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Good article in the New Yorker — one that particularly resonates with me because, for just one example, Ms. Alex and I tend to have different perceptions of the appropriate level of saltiness.

 

Quote

Certain vital duties are especially ill-served by the convention of vague summary, foremost among them the matter of seasoning. Perhaps more than any other isolated task, this one can either clinch or derail what you’re cooking. You may have scrupulously sweated onions until translucent and simmered lentils until soft, but if you serve your resulting soup without sufficient lemon and salt, or with too much, then the rest of your effort was for naught. So it’s a shame that for this pivotal step—after you’ve applied the prescribed teaspoons and tablespoons but before you deem the dish ready to serve—we cookbook writers tend to abandon readers with the murky dictum “season to taste.” Tacked on to the end of countless recipes, the turn of phrase is so ubiquitous that it has transcended the realm of culinary instruction to achieve a kind of broad cultural resonance. 

 

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"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Yes I posted about it here yesterday. It brought to mind Kim Severson's discussion in her memoir Spoon Fed where she discusses her intense fear of inadequacy when she started in food at the San Francisco Chronicle. Her editor told her she needed to establish bars for various tastes and had her taste a lot of variety to educate her palate. "You have to build a catalogue of food memories. To understand good chocolate you have to knw bad chocolate and you should experience them side by side" gives an idea.

https://forums.egullet.org/topic/164306-your-view-on-saltiness-options/?do=findComment&comment=2356612

 

Edited by heidih (log)
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1 hour ago, Alex said:

Ms. Alex and I tend to have different perceptions of the appropriate level of saltiness.

Thanks for posting this. That you and Mrs. Alex have different opinions of what constitutes an appropriate level of saltiness emphasizes the pointlessness of the instruction “season to taste”. Whose taste? It definitely risks making food that is inedible to anyone but the cook. Better to err on the side of under salted and provide remedies at the table in my opinion. There are a couple of people in my family who would find it necessary to add salt to a salt lick!

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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Good article.  I err on the side of caution.  I have found that whenever I have finished the dish and I taste it, I often think "oh, a tad more salt".  Om the plate it then tastes too salty so I've stopped doing that.

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18 minutes ago, ElsieD said:

Good article.  I err on the side of caution.  I have found that whenever I have finished the dish and I taste it, I often think "oh, a tad more salt".  Om the plate it then tastes too salty so I've stopped doing that.

I think also that a taste can be quite acceptable but a whole serving something else again. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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43 minutes ago, ElsieD said:

Good article.  I err on the side of caution.  I have found that whenever I have finished the dish and I taste it, I often think "oh, a tad more salt".  Om the plate it then tastes too salty so I've stopped doing that.

 

Hear, hear!  I have a low tolerance for salt, unless it's something where salt *is* the flavor (anchovies, olives, pickles, etc.).   For home cooking, I think restraint should be shown when seasoning "in layers".

 

I've also cut way back lately on automatically adding black pepper.  Not everything needs pepper, and I now substitute Aleppo pepper for black in probably half of the things I cook.

 

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A good/fun experiment is to make mashed potatoes.  Yes, cook the potatoes in salted water, or whatever your normal method is for preparing potatoes to be mashed.

 

Then, start mashing, adding salt as little as 1/8 tsp. or less, at a time. Taste after each addition, and there will be a point when the potatoes taste right to the masher...they'll taste like real mashed potatoes, as opposed to just blah mashed stuff.  One of my first jobs, in a real restaurant kitchen, was making the mashed potatoes for lunch service. I'll never forget the chef telling me more salt, more salt, etc. each time he tasted...when he was happy with the potatoes, I tasted them and...he was right!

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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This topic reminds me of an anecdote about Monet in one of the cookbooks that feature him, his home and recipes. It purports that he insisted on tossing the salads at the table himself and he loved black pepper so much that he would put a ton on the salad. So much that no one else could/would eat the salad. No idea if that is fact, but it was the first thing that came to mind upon reading this.

 

I have cut back on salting when I cook because my husband and others in the family try to cut back on sodium in their diet. I just add what I want on my food at the table.

Deb

Liberty, MO

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8 hours ago, weinoo said:

I'll never forget the chef telling me more salt, more salt, etc. each time he tasted...when he was happy with the potatoes, I tasted them and...he was right!

Proving without a doubt that you and the chef shared the same response to the same amount of salt. And one must logically assume that most of your diners agreed with the two of you else they would not return. But I might leave the potatoes on the plate finding them much too salty and my son-in-law might inquire about the possibility of somebody bringing him a salt shaker. 

Edited by Anna N
To clarify that it would be the potatoes not the diners I might leave on the plate. (log)
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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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18 hours ago, CookBot said:

I've also cut way back lately on automatically adding black pepper.  Not everything needs pepper,

Yes, indeed. I love pepper but I tend to overuse it to the detriment of whatever it was I was seasoning. About all I could taste was my beloved pepper. Lately I’ve been a little more judicious with its use and I am pleased with the result. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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An excellent point above about the symbiosis of foods on a plate.   How a bite of a single food might be lacking or overpowering but correct when eaten together.    In France, particularly, plates are often constructed with the expectation that a fork will include bits of many or all components.    Singly, each may be disappointing or odd, but combined, complete and delicious.

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eGullet member #80.

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5 hours ago, Maison Rustique said:

This topic reminds me of an anecdote about Monet in one of the cookbooks that feature him, his home and recipes. It purports that he insisted on tossing the salads at the table himself and he loved black pepper so much that he would put a ton on the salad. So much that no one else could/would eat the salad. No idea if that is fact, but it was the first thing that came to mind upon reading this.

 

May have inspired Pointillism.

 

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

 

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8 hours ago, Maison Rustique said:

This topic reminds me of an anecdote about Monet in one of the cookbooks that feature him, his home and recipes. It purports that he insisted on tossing the salads at the table himself and he loved black pepper so much that he would put a ton on the salad. So much that no one else could/would eat the salad. No idea if that is fact, but it was the first thing that came to mind upon reading this.

 

I have cut back on salting when I cook because my husband and others in the family try to cut back on sodium in their diet. I just add what I want on my food at the table.

 

2 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

May have inspired Pointillism.

 


A widely known fact: Claude was a real pain in the ass at the dinner table.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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After being exhorted for years to salt my pasta water until it was "as salty as the sea", I realized that that was too salty for us and have finally pulled back.  It's bizarre that at age 63, I'm finally starting to make the rules for my own kitchen.  

 

It's funny though - I'm much more likely to find a dish over-salted when it has come from a chef-run kitchen than from a cook-run kitchen (a cafe, diner or deli, for instance).

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