There is one product that every kitchen needs: salt. Lots of home cooks view salt as optional, but in reality it is a non-negotiable part of cooking. Nothing adds more flavor to your food than salt.
Seasoning your food is arguably the most important step in cooking, and there are many opportunities to use salt (not necessarily just in the kitchen), but it’s important to make sure you’re using salt in the most efficient way.
Everything from a freshly sliced tomato to that red velvet cake you've wanted to bake should get at least a touch of sodium chloride.
It's important to remember that salt in highly processed food is not the same kind of salt you add to your own food. In fact, the salt used in food like chips and frozen or pre-packaged meals is most often chemically altered to make you crave more of that same salty flavor.
There are guidelines to salting. You can’t just toss in an arbitrary amount of salt and hope for the best, and you also can’t follow recipes to the letter when it comes to seasoning. This is a personal choice that may be different for everyone. People who love salt may not taste it as acutely as someone who never uses it. This tried and true method of seasoning your food as you cook is one to live by. You never know what you’re cooking tastes like until you actually take a taste.
Not all salt is created equal. Table salt is finely granulated, and doesn’t have a ton of flavor. Kosher salt is most often used in professional kitchens because it’s flaky, which makes it easy to feel and see how much salt you’re adding to something.
Varieties of Salt Have Varied Uses
If a recipe calls for kosher salt, please don’t substitute table salt. Table salt is very finely ground (and not particularly tasty), so one tablespoon of table salt will be much denser than a tablespoon of flakey kosher salt. Most baking recipes call for fine salt because measurements need to be more exact for baking.
Flaky sea salts, like fleur de sel, sel gris, and Maldon sea salt are best used as finishing salts. They’re a little bit on the pricey side but will really add a wonderful flavor to simple dishes like grilled meat or fresh vegetables. If you’re going to use a finishing salt, remember to slightly under-season your food while cooking.
Julie Ruggirello is The Daily Meal’s Recipe Editor. Follow her on Twitter @TDMRecipeEditor.