Food, Recipes

Cooking Basics Lesson I: Seasoning with Salt

Have you ever tried a nice looking piece of beef/chicken/ lamb, and ended up disappointed with its taste? You are not the only one. Many times people miss on the basics of cooking, such as the seasoning with salt.

Seasoning ranges from salt, garlic to any aromatic herbs. Salt and garlic are the absolute basic ingredients for a tasty dish. Sodium chloride, most commonly know as salt, is an ionic compound with one ion of sodium (Na) and another of chloride (Cl). Salt is a part of the essential ingredients, which helps to regulate the amount of water content in the body and is involved in many other bodily functions. Apart from helping our bodies, it plays an important role for food preservation and taste.

Electricity scarcity ruled during the humanities early times, so there was a needed for food to be preserved. Preservation was accomplished by many processes, one of them was curing, which is done by adding a large quantity of salt, for example, to remove all the moisture from the food. It is this very special relationship that salt has with food that makes it a key component for many fantastic dishes.

The uses of salt go beyond food preservation. Salt does wonders like:

  • Elevate the flavor of a dish.
  • Reduce the bitterness effect.
  • Balances the the sweetness of a dish.

Usually meat/fish contain small quantities of water and salt, which is the reason why it becomes more noticeable when salt is added. This enhancement also as to do with the solubility of salt in water, in this case meat/fish. The salt molecules move from the outside/inside to the inside/outside the meat due to the process of osmosis. For any other additional on salt, click here.

There are different types of salt ranging from sea salt to fleur de sel. The preferred salt to many people is the kosher salt due to its  grains size. Fleur de sel is used for finishing dishes, such as salads or steamed vegetables. The use of each depends on the texture of it, quantity of sodium, and as well its solubility. Keep in mind that a tablespoon of table salt may be different from the one for sea salt. If you want to substitute the common salt, you can use potassium salt. Choose your salt wisely taking your dish and health into consideration.

Here in Angola most of the dishes are prepared with salt, garlic, pepper and bay leaf. Smash the mixture using a mortar and pestle. After smashing, this mixture should be rubbed onto the meat/fish while you taste it. Adding small quantities of seasoning to the food until it matches your taste. This is done to prevent over seasoning your dishes.

Seasoning with Salt
Basic seasoning for fish dish

One important additional item is the use of an acidic component such as vinegar or lemon. Those two help to break down the protein making the meat/fish more tender. Acid is great for seasoning, but you will need to moderate the quantity of it added to the food. After a long consumption of high acidic food, the probabilities of causing damage to the body increase. Watch out for the quantities added to the seasonings. Use 1 lemon to season a whole chicken. For the meat, you can used less than a tablespoon of vinegar.

 

Your basic seasoning will have a range of other herbs and spices in it. Some of the most used spices and herbs in the house are Black/white pepper, paprika, nutmeg, cumin, bay leaf, parsley, coriander, basil and oregano. Keep in mind that “YOU” are the one who chooses what to do. If it tastes good for you, then you did a good job. Choose your additional touch in the following link: Herbs and Spices.

 

Despite what many people its adverse health effects, salt is a great part of your seasoning. Remember that salt can bring an entire dish to ruin or to the the pedestal when used in the right quantities.

 

 

 

 

Before you go, I would like to ask the following questions:

  • Was this helpful?
  • What type of seasoning do you use?
  • What is your absolute must when seasoning?

Until next time, my Hungry People.

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