When in the kitchen and looking at things that can improve food and help you in your quest to becoming a better cook look no farther than Salt. It is one of the essential building blocks not only of flavor but of life as well. Today we’ll look at the cooking implications and types of salt you should have on hand. The uses for and approaches to salting food to maximize flavor. This piece really breaks into 2 parts – the “what” and the “how” of salt and salting. Let’s look at the what first, or more correctly the what you need. I’d recommend any home cook have three (yes I know it sounds silly) types of salt on hand at all time. They are:
- Basic Iodized Salt – This is the stuff you are very familiar with, fine grained, salty, ideal for baking and similar dishes.
- Kosher Salt – This is a much coarser grain salt and is the workhorse of my kitchen it is great for building flavor, layering, and seasoning items ahead of time.
- Flake/Finishing Salt – Maldon or similar sea salt is ideal. It can get expensive though so you should shop around. This is primarily used for finishing dishes that high sprinkle on a completed dish before you serve.
Now on to the how of salting. This is just as important in producing tasting food and becoming a better cook. There are two main techniques that don’t get taught enough when it comes to the use of salt, and I learned both from the forwards of cook books by two of the greats: Thomas Keller and Alice Watters. I credit Keller with teaching me what I call the “high salt,” sprinkling salt on dishes from a shoulder height or higher level ensures that the salt spreads more evenly over the dish and doesn’t leave over and under seasoned bites. To Alice Waters credit goes the process of salting individual ingredients before combining them into a dish. Say you are making tomato sauce: chop each ingredient individually and salt them as such before combining. The try just adding salt to the already combined ingredients in a second batch. The first batch comes out brighter, more nuanced and much more flavorful.