Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Season to taste: discuss


Recommended Posts

11 minutes ago, Kim Shook said:

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).

Coming to trust yourself - go girl!

My experience is similar on over salt.

 

Which leads me to a related question, Some posts here talk about their families wanting less salt so they personally salt at table. Not quite the same taste in the food. I did not grow up with a salt shaker on the table and never had one in my home feeding us or others. I do recall grandma with the little crystal salt cellar but as kids we mostly played with it (great - grubby kid paws)  Is it common in your experiences to offer salt and pepper shakers at home tables? 

 

Edited by heidih (log)
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, Kim Shook said:

After being exhorted for years to salt my pasta water until it was "as salty as the sea",

Which sea? The salinity of the various seas varies. On average it is about 3.5%.
But Serious Eats thinks it is a bad idea no matter which sea. Too salty. 
I am sure many will disagree with Serious Eats. 
 

“Let me start by telling you one very important thing: Never, ever, ever make your pasta water as salty as the sea. That is the worst advice anyone can give. It is repulsively, inedibly salty. Frankly, 3% salt is also way too salty.”

 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, heidih said:

Which leads me to a related question, Some posts here talk about their families wanting less salt so they personally salt at table. Not quite the same taste in the food. I did not grow up with a salt shaker on the table and never had one in my home feeding us or others. I do recall grandma with the little crystal salt cellar but as kids we mostly played with it (great - grubby kid paws)  Is it common in your experiences to offer salt and pepper shakers at home tables? 

 

 

Always salt and pepper shakers on the table.  My mother's Italian maternal family loved strong flavors (not hot/spicy) salty, sour, fermented, and strong vegetables - cabbage, greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.  A favorite post-dinner palate cleanser was taking the spent lemon wedge out of their ice tea and salting it before eating the flesh.  I still offer salt and pepper at the dinner table - Maldon salt (because I love a flakey salt to finish a dish) in a pretty dish and a decent looking pepper grinder.  I never saw a pepper grinder in my family's homes.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We used to teach a 3-day "Kitchen Basics" class for beginners in which we always included a lesson on "salting to taste." I'd make a pretty basic asparagus soup, but use water instead of stock and no salt. We'd give each student a bowl of soup, plus a little bowl of salt. We'd have them taste it plain first, and virtually no one liked it. We'd talk about how the asparagus was sort of bitter, and the wine was too assertive, and that the soup just seemed unbalanced. Then they'd add a small pinch of salt and taste again, then keep going until they liked the taste. Over the years we taught the class, it was striking just how similar most students' taste was -- some would add a little more or less salt, but everyone was pretty close. At the end, I'd offer them the option of adding a very small pinch of MSG (Ac'cent) to see what that changed. Almost everyone agreed that it helped -- adding flavor and a richer mouthfeel.

 

It's interesting to me how salt and umami elements seem to enhance each other, which is why I think salty elements that also include some glutamates -- like soy or fish sauce, or aged cheese -- are often more effective seasonings than plain salt.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I (and the kitchen) despair when seeing diners in restaurants automatically reach for the salt and pepper then use it without having tasted anything! My father was a major indulger in this madness.

 

I do not possess table salt or pepper dispensers. Never seen them here. Seasoning is done in the kitchen.

Seasoning post-cooking can seldom replicate cooking properly seasoned ingredients. Even when it does work, say salting fries, it is still better to do it immediately - in the kitchen.

  • Like 3

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

33 minutes ago, JAZ said:

It's interesting to me how salt and umami elements seem to enhance each other, which is why I think salty elements that also include some glutamates -- like soy or fish sauce, or aged cheese -- are often more effective seasonings than plain salt.

Yes my experience as well as I said in my opening post. Double duty - umami/salt has become second nature.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

I (and the kitchen) despair when seeing diners in restaurants automatically reach for the salt and pepper then use it without having tasted anything! My father was a major indulger in this madness.

 

I do not possess table salt or pepper dispensers. Never seen them here. Seasoning is done in the kitchen.

Seasoning post-cooking can seldom replicate cooking properly seasoned ingredients. Even when it does work, say salting fries, it is still better to do it immediately - in the kitchen.

As I know you are aware (but many on this board may not be), maybe not salt or pepper dispensers, but I can't count how many places in Asia I've seen have some form or combo of soy sauce, black vinegar, chopped chillis, chili oil, etc.  Thai food (in Thailand) revolves around the several condiments one can add - fish sauce, chillies in vinegar, dried chilli powder, etc.

 

I was once in a street food place in Hue that specialized in banh canh - which is a black pepper forward soup - and on the table were dishes of chopped chilli and a LARGE (half empty) dish of ground black pepper with a spoon for serving.  One of the other diners there (a regular evidently as his discussion with the owner seemed like they knew each other) dumped a spoonful of finely ground black pepper without tasting.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 minutes ago, KennethT said:

As I know you are aware (but many on this board may not be), maybe not salt or pepper dispensers, but I can't count how many places in Asia I've seen have some form or combo of soy sauce, black vinegar, chopped chillis, chili oil, etc. 

 

Yeah. And cloves of raw garlic in Vietnam. Xi'an restaurants also have raw garlic on the table.

  • Like 2

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

31 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

I (and the kitchen) despair when seeing diners in restaurants automatically reach for the salt and pepper then use it without having tasted anything! My father was a major indulger in this madness.

 

My dad, too (just salt—a lot of it). First heart attack at 63, died of a pulmonary embolism at 67.

 

I used to do that, too, until I was visiting an aunt, his youngest sister, who jumped right in and instructed me to taste first. I think she took my automatic salting as an insult to her cooking. She also said, if memory serves, "Do you want to end up like your father?"

  • Like 1

"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."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

Yeah. And cloves of raw garlic in Vietnam. Xi'an restaurants also have raw garlic on the table.

 

A friend of ours, a CIA grad who used to own an Italian-inflected restaurant here in GR, would roast garlic cloves and put them in olive oil to accompany the bread service. All our cloves would be gone by the time we got to the main course.

  • Like 2

"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."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

37 minutes ago, KennethT said:

As I know you are aware (but many on this board may not be), maybe not salt or pepper dispensers, but I can't count how many places in Asia I've seen have some form or combo of soy sauce, black vinegar, chopped chillis, chili oil, etc.  Thai food (in Thailand) revolves around the several condiments one can add - fish sauce, chillies in vinegar, dried chilli powder, etc.

 

I was once in a street food place in Hue that specialized in banh canh - which is a black pepper forward soup - and on the table were dishes of chopped chilli and a LARGE (half empty) dish of ground black pepper with a spoon for serving.  One of the other diners there (a regular evidently as his discussion with the owner seemed like they knew each other) dumped a spoonful of finely ground black pepper without tasting.

Well that is the accepted - season and customize in those countries. I was referring to the auto salt shake I have seen - not in person - but on film. Oh and the pacemaker/Xralto stepmpther

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Kim Shook said:

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

I've always thought the better advice would be to salt the pasta water to the level of a nice broth. That will be less than sea water but also allows for individual taste. 
 

1 hour ago, liuzhou said:

I (and the kitchen) despair when seeing diners in restaurants automatically reach for the salt and pepper then use it without having tasted anything!

My mom taught us that reaching for salt or pepper before tasting was an unforgivable insult to whoever prepared the meal.  Pepper on eggs excepted. 
 

 

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was thinking about the salt and pepper on the table and recall one couple who automatically reached for them but added such a tiny bit to their plate that it could hardly have made any difference to the flavour. I have a feeling that they were doing so to say since you have been kind enough to supply them we feel obliged to use them. 

  • Like 4

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, heidih said:

Well that is the accepted - season and customize in those countries. I was referring to the auto salt shake I have seen - not in person - but on film. Oh and the pacemaker/Xralto stepmpther

I've seen the automatic salt drench time and again in diners. Invariably its a fat guy in a tee shirt with a pack of Camels in his pocket. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, gfweb said:

Invariably

Not invariably. Son in law - trim and never smoked but still reaches for the salt shaker immediately and make sure the shower is visible and evenly laid down. 

  • Confused 1

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I keep a salt shaker -- blessed with holes properly sized for Diamond Crystal -- on the dining table, along with my antique Danish mill for grinding black (or sometimes Cambodian red) peppercorns.  Not on the table but always within convenient reach, my grinder for white pepper.

 

Things I salt at the table might include corn on the cob, but generally I salt most dishes in the kitchen.  I may be odd but I love pepper, however I almost never cook with pepper.  I grind pepper in vast amounts over almost everything savory at the table.

 

I've read that a good percentage of tasters cannot identify rotundone in pepper.  I hope I am not among them.  I would hate to think what I am missing.

 

 

  • Like 4
  • Haha 1

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

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my family, we always have salt and pepper on the table. Too many people who like or don't like one or the other or both. You can't please everyone with your cooking (which is why are there are so many different restaurants out there), so let them add whatever they like. I'm never offended if someone salts or peppers at the table.

  • Like 4

Deb

Liberty, MO

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...