Are you salting your food properly? Here’s what the chefs are saying.

If you’ve wondered how the chefs at your favorite restaurant always seem to make food so much better than your homemade versions, there’s at least one ingredient that may take some of it: salt.

Of course, you use the salt exactly as the recipe says, except where it says “salt to taste,” then maybe you just close your eyes and stir.

But chefs frequently use salt in every step of the cooking process. They use different types of salt for different purposes, and they often use it much more generously than you probably do. The result? Food that tastes — not salty — but just more like itself.

“The amount of salt — and butter — used in the restaurant world is far more than the average home cook is used to,” Keith Sarasin, chef and owner of The Farmers Dinner and Aatma, told HuffPost. “Salting food is part of the process, and a good chef knows how to season. It is an art form that takes time to master.

“Just a pinch of salt brings all the flavors to the surface and makes them shine together,” said Pati Jinich, chef, cookbook author and host of “La Frontera” on PBS. “Home cooks may be afraid of oversalting, but in many cases, undersalting leads to food that’s bland or lacks punch.”

Ready to find the “punch” in homemade meals? Here are some chef tips for salting food like a pro.

Timing is everything

The time for when your salt can be just as important as How? ‘Or’ What you salt, said these experts. With most dishes, that means you have to “season in layers,” Jinich said, alternating between sprinklings and frequent tastings throughout the cooking process.

Make sure to take it slowly and steadily. “The most important thing about timing is not to add too much, too soon,” said Allison Arevalo, owner of Pasta Louise in Brooklyn. “Add a little as you go and keep tasting your food. And when you boil water for pasta, add more salt than you think. I use two tablespoons per pound of pasta when cooking at home. I have a friend who always asks her husband, ‘Did you salt the water Allison’s way or your way?’ »

“Don’t salt your protein too early,” advises Hervé Malivert, director of culinary affairs at the Institute of Culinary Education. “If you salt too soon before cooking, the protein will start to denature and heal. Thirty minutes before, it does not matter. If you want to marinate something, don’t salt it. You can marinate with other spices, then season with salt just before cooking.

“The chefs salt every step of the way, and then we check one last time before serving, just to be sure,” said Renee Scharoff, chef and owner of Blonde on the Run Catering. “We love salt!”

Not all salts are the same

The type of salt is another factor that affects the final results. Josiah Citrin, the two-star Michelin chef and owner of Mélisse, Citrin, Charcoal, Dear John’s and Openaire, said it may seem like the pros are cooking up a storm, but the quality of the product makes the difference.

“It’s fair to say that because my cooking uses high-grade sea salt, the saltiness level isn’t as intense and requires a bit more,” Citrin says. “It’s important to use high-quality salts as often as possible.”

Kosher salt was the most common “everyday” salt used by these chefs, and Diamond Crystal was the brand they mentioned the most. “The flakes are consistent and allow for good measure,” said Curtis Stone, chef and owner of Maude and Gwen Butcher Shop and Restaurant in Los Angeles.

Michelle Bernstein, co-owner of Café La Trova in Miami, mentioned fine sea salt as her favorite for cooking. And, if you live in the right place, you can even buy salt near you. “I love supporting small salt makers,” Sarasin said. “I live in the Northeast and we have access to regional salts that are always special.”

Chef John Sugimura of Minneapolis-based Pinku Japanese Street Food said his loyalty remains with the familiar navy cylinder.

“I only ever use Morton’s iodized salt for all my recipes, including gyoza, sukiyaki, and pickled vegetables,” Sugimura said. “If it was good enough for my chief grandmother over a hundred years ago, it’s good enough for me.”

Stone also uses Morton, but only in one specific location: “In a good old-fashioned salt shaker on the table,” he said.

Cindy Ord via Getty Images

A chef at the 2018 Food and Wine festival in New York perfects his salting technique.

Use a good finishing salt, but only at the very end

In addition to cooking salt, there is finishing salt, which adds crunch and flavor to finished dishes like pan-fried meat, chocolate dessert and salads.

“That perfect salty crunch you can get from an amazing sea salt specialty can really take a dish from good to great,” Executive Chef and Managing Partner Robin Seldeof Marcia Selden Caterer, said. Finishing salt is not used during the cooking process, but rather sprinkled in after everything is done.

The top picks among the chefs were Maldon, Smoked Maldon, flower of salt and Espuma De Mar (Jinich’s favorite).

What about flavored salts?

Some chefs make their own flavored or infused salts in-house, and some buy mixes from suppliers. Bernstein mentioned Cancale No. 11a mixture of fleur de sel, orange peel and fennel from The box, a New York boutique spice supplier. “They sell to the best chefs in the world,” she said.

Or you can follow the example of Christine Pitmanfounder of food blogging CookTheStory and The cooker, and grind your own. “I use a good quality sea salt that I grind in the food processor to a size similar to table salt,” Pittman said. “I prefer sea salt to iodized salt because it’s less processed and contains trace minerals.”

Jinich offered a time-saving trick that’s used in many restaurant kitchens: “Mix the salt and pepper together in a container, then you’re good to go.”

Aim high!

If you want to add salt more like a professional chef, be prepared to occasionally stretch on your tiptoes. “When it comes to seasoning with salt, getting even coverage is key,” Pittman said. “Chefs salt their food by sprinkling it about eight inches or more above the food, allowing the salt crystals to fall more evenly.”

Be dramatic, yes, but not too much. “Chefs don’t perform as well as Bae of salt“, said Pierre. “It’s all for show.

Parting Thoughts

When choosing salt and learning how to use it, keep in mind that “one salt doesn’t fit all,” Selden says. In her catering business, she sometimes offers salt bars of different varieties at some stations, so people can taste the difference. “We’re doing a summer tomato station with a salt bar and people are going crazy,” she said. “They didn’t even realize it was a thing.”

Finally, “Don’t worry if your dish ends up a little too salty,” Jinich said. “Add a slice of ripe avocado or fresh lettuce to the dish. Or put it all in a taco and you’ll be fine.


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button