Ever wonder How to Season Food Like a Chef? The way to do it is actually quite simple, it’s salt. Not quite so much as just adding salt but how you add salt. The goal is for the salt to have a even distribution across the food. The earlier you do it, the more the salt penetrate. You want salt to enter the center of the food. If you salt the food near the end, only the exterior will be salty and more than likely, taste overly salty.
How to Sprinkle Salt?
I think we all seen salt bae add salt to the food. While that has some flair and impress the guest, its not practical. More than likely it just hits one area and not the rest. You should raise your hand 1 to 2 feet above the food and rub the salt over it. This will fall over in a more even fashion. However, my experience with this technique is lack luster. When you are cooking, your hand gets wet and this technique fails. The salt will clump up in your hand and it just causes a mess.
Salt Shaker is Your Best Friend
My preferred way of salting food is via a salt shaker. This way the salt wont get clumpy and you wont contaminate the salt. Dont use any old regular salt shaker as well. Usually those wont add enough salt. I find that a salt shaker with many perforation is the best. Those with little S as holes look cute but they limit the flow of salt. The one with interchangeable holes are neat but those are cumbersome and when you need it, who has time to adjust it. I finally found the one by Tablecraft, those have many different holes and they are the right size for table salt. Initially you need some practice to sprinkle the salt, but after you get the hang of it you will see how much better it is. You can shake little or a lot and you can control the area where salt should be distributed. Ultimately, I think any cooks should have one of these. There is a reason why you see so many restaurant professional use this. It is quick and effective.
How Early should you Season Your Food?
That really depends. Remember salt bae, the salt at the end is just a taste adjustment. Usually it is preferable for the dinner to salt their own food. For steaks, if the chef prepared it right, it should be salted hours before. This gives it a chance for the salt to draw out the liquid and for it to re enter it. This is done via osmosis and the end result is a perfectly salted steak.
For smaller stuff like vegetables or smaller cut of meat, you can usually salt it 5-10 minutes before cooking. Or when you are prepping your vegetables. This will give it time to penetrate the food. I also like to salt as I go. Adding little by little while you cook. Remember to not go overboard, as you cannot remove salt only add it.
What About Marinades?
Marination is a different technique. Depending on what type of marinades you use, it will add different flavor and texture. Pineapple for example, it has the enzyme bromelain that breaks down tough fiberous meat. This will make it soft and tender. Other marinades will just add extra flavoring to the exterior like Bbq. There are downsides to marinades though. For starters, the liquid needs to be drained before you cook it. If you do not do so, it will just cause the food to steam. Another issue is that they dont really penetrate all the way. Most of the time, it is just the center that gets the flavor. This is not to say that marinades are bad. It is just different way of doing it and it has its limitation.
Brines has the same principal as salting. The goal is to get the salt to penetrate the food. This is commonly done with chicken prior to roasting. The flavor different the two is immense. The brined chicken will be properly seasoned and remain juicy. Since the salt solution penetrated the chicken, it holds onto the moisture better when roasted. You still have to dry it prior to roasting but the result is worth it. There are ways to dry salt it as well, you just have to wait a little longer for it to work.
How to Season Food Like a Chef Thoughts
I hope this helps you understand the importance of seasoning your food. Seasoning food is the difference between a home cook and a professional chef. This simple technique is really often overlooked. But once you start doing it, you will see what a difference it does to your cooking.
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