How to season like a chef
Over the past three decades, we have sold to and worked with hundreds of chefs. Big names and lesser known (but no less talented) cooks. We’ve picked up stellar recipes on our salt-selling travels, everywhere from New York City to Barcelona, Singapore to Modena, and brought them back to our kitchen in North Wales.
Over the years, we have realised that seasoning is perhaps the most important skill a chef can have. And actually, seasoning like a pro can be distilled into some very succinct advice. None of it is particularly complicated, but it does genuinely have the ability to change the way you cook, and therefore the way you eat.
Don’t worry, we’re not going back to GCSE’s. But remembering one basic fact will help you understand why salt improves flavour – it draws water out of ingredients, concentrating the flavours that occur naturally in foods.
” Used in the right amount, sea salt makes things taste more of themselves. ‘‘ – Anna Shepherd, chef and food writer
1. Use sea salt
While table salt is the most common variety of cooking salt found in much of the world, we believe it doesn’t belong anywhere near the kitchen. It’s cheap and easy to pour from a spout, but is often laden with anti-caking agents that can impart their own sour or bitter flavour to food. Rock salt – another popular choice – has a solid texture that we often find overpowering.
As the single most important ingredient in your kitchen, we’d suggest that it’s worth splashing out on sea salt. Ours is hand-harvested, organic-approved sea salt made from Anglesey sea water and absolutely nothing else. Expect a delicate balance of minerals, depth of flavour, and no bitterness. Use good sea salt and you’ll find it stronger so won’t need as much as you would with table salt.
”Taste for me is about making the most of the ingredient I am cooking. Sometimes that means a little scatter of Anglesey sea salt and nothing else.” – Anna Jones, chef and food writer
2. Season in layers.
One of the biggest mistakes a cook can make is to only season her finished dish. Adding a small amount earlier on in a recipe, and then seasoning a little at every stage, will change the flavour in a way that adding a liberal sprinkle at the table cannot.
“All ingredients need salt. The noodle or tender spring pea would be narcissistic to imagine it already contained within its cell walls all the perfection it would ever need. We seem, too, to fear that we are failures at being tender and springy if we need to be seasoned. It’s not so: it doesn’t reflect badly on pea or person that either needs help to be most itself.” – Tamar Adler, chef and food writer
Use our Pure Sea Salt in a Finer Flake throughout the cooking process – whether this be sweating onions, roasting veg, salting pasta water, or boiling potatoes – and then our Pure Sea Salt, which is beautifully flaky, will keep its texture if you add a little as a finishing salt at the end for pops of flavour.
Also consider if there will be ready-salted ingredients in your dish. If you add olives, cheese, anchovies, cured meats or capers then you won’t need to add as much salt in the next stage.
”Salt has a greater impact on flavor than any other ingredient. Learn to use it well, and food will taste good.” – Samin Nosrat, chef, food writer and presenter
3. Good cooks taste. A lot.
Perhaps this is obvious, but it can also be nothing short of revolutionary. You’ll notice in many professional kitchen piles of teaspoons by the saucepans, used to taste food at every stage of cooking.
‘’I would no sooner start to cook in a kitchen without salt than one without knives or a stove’’ – Sam Lomas, chef
Put a little dab of food on the end of a teaspoon and roll it across your palate – what is missing? Is the words of the excellent Samin Nosrat, is it Salt, Fat, Acid or Heat? Taste and adjust accordingly. Get into this habit, and you will transform your cooking
“Where would we be without salt?” – James Beard