Sit down. We need to talk. There is something funky with home cooked dishes that is causing a problem.
The problem? No seasoning.
Have you ever seen the cooking star Gordon Ramsey screaming at restaurant employees? He yells, “This food is disgusting! It doesn’t have any seasoning!”
What does that mean? Seasoning is a pretty broad range of things, right?
Seasoning can mean common herbs like oregano, basil, parsley, majoram, thyme and dill. Seasoning can be spices like cinnamon, paprika, tumeric, saffron or cumin.
However, the seasoning that Gordon Ramsey is usually speaking of is salt! The salt in the dish will inform and enhance all of those other herbs and spices.
Salt does a lot of great things in foods. Salt increases pleasant flavors and cuts bitter or off flavors. Salt also improves the sensation of liquid thickness and enhances sweetness.
Not sure how much salt to add, you can follow these general rules of thumb for most dishes as follows: 1-2 tsp of salt for each pound of meat. 1 tsp for soups and sauces, 1 tsp per 4 cups of flour for dough, 1 tablespoon per 2 quarts of water for pasta.
Salt is probably the most versatile and most flavor enhancing seasoning in your kitchen and it is cheap. Got to like that!
But what about black pepper? Black pepper is found everywhere! At one time though, pepper and other similar spices were so valuable that they built great empires and tipped world power.
Thankfully, today, even us common folks have access to black pepper and you can usually use it in quantities of about ½ the amount of salt needed.
You will know if your dish needs more salt or pepper by simply tasting it – if you note that the flavor is a little dull, add a little salt and you will be on the right path.
Keep in mind that salt can be a concern for heart patients and that it is easy to over season with salt. Once too much salt is added – it is impossible to remove.
I am reminded of a kitchen towel I saw recently in a favorite cooking store that gave the quote, “Keep calm and grab the salt”. That’s about right.