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Eamon Burke
12-23-2011, 12:23 AM
I heard something about under-salting food in another thread, and figured I'd not hijack it.

I have a guy I work with who isn't a cook by trade, but is one of our short order cooks right now. If he tastes your soup and says it's fine, you can bet your paycheck it tastes like the Atlantic ocean. Meanwhile, I have learned that when I feel a dish tastes exactly right, I toss in enough salt to ruin it(in my estimation), and everyone is happy. My wife puts extra salt on all the food I cook.

There are times when people are not using enough salt to create the desired effect--like when a sauce has all the flavor components it needs, but just tastes like it's missing "something", or not having enough salt to pull moisture out when that kind of thing is needed. But everyone is going to want different amounts of salt, and it's not just preferential, or experiential.

There are folks who are "supertasters", with an abnormally high number of taste buds, which can lead to(among other things), a love of salty food (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127914467). The problem is, most of us aren't supertasters, and since "tasting good" is subjective, this can lead to flavors being lost under a bed of salt.

Also, when I was a young athlete, we worked out 6 days a week in South Texas heat, where hydration and sodium levels were a safety issue. Our go-to test was to taste our own forehead sweat--it should taste lightly salty, but if it tastes like water, you need salt, and if it tastes like rock salt, you need more water and lay off the salt. Nobody can do this for you--people's sweat varies from day to day, and the sweat of other people tastes very different to different people.

A few years later, I noticed when working outside that if I am dehydrated and parched, the taste of Gatorade is like Nectar of the Gods--perfectly salty and sweet and I wanna chug it until my stomach hurts. If I am not, the flavor of Gatorade(all flavors) is dead, flat, watery, boring, even a touch bitter on the finish.



My point is, there is a reason why salt on the table has persisted through the centuries. I say put great quality finishing salt out, and don't sweat it if people want to load it down. And for pro cooks, it would be wise to remember that while seasoning perfectly is an invaluable job skill, it's a lot harder for customers to take the salt out than put more in.

Chef Niloc
12-23-2011, 12:29 AM
I don't put salt or pepper on the tables
The wate staff have grinders filled with tellicherry's on them and each server station has a sill with gray, white, and pink in it.

Eamon Burke
12-23-2011, 01:23 AM
OK here's the edit for you, Chef:

"Addendum:
Or you can go to Chef MacKaharay's restaurant and have your ass buttered."

ajhuff
12-23-2011, 07:23 AM
One observation I have made is that the smokers in the kitchen tend to way over use the salt than the non-smokers.

-AJ

mr drinky
12-23-2011, 07:51 AM
In a Thomas Keller video he needed some salt once and pulled out a tiny personal salt box that he carries with him all the time. I think he made the comment that a lot of chefs also become salt tolerant over time and need extra salt on their dishes.

With that said, I recently ran across something on TV where some health people were talking about different types of salt and they said that the bleached salts most homes use is so lacking in the original minerals that a lot of salts don't satisfy your bodies need for salt and you will end up wanting more. Their point was that using good salts (they named some types that I can't remember) will naturally satisfy your bodies salt craving than other over bleached processed salts. I thought that was interesting.

k.

Eamon Burke
12-23-2011, 10:33 AM
One observation I have made is that the smokers in the kitchen tend to way over use the salt than the non-smokers.

Nice observation. I'll keep an eye on that, but there is only one non-smoker at my job, so my research might take a lot longer.

@mr drinky, I would carry salt around, if I didn't already carry full pockets! Crazy what people carry, Alton Brown EDCs a nutmeg.

MadMel
12-23-2011, 11:00 AM
One observation I have made is that the smokers in the kitchen tend to way over use the salt than the non-smokers.

-AJ

Totally with you on that. I find that the cooks I've worked with who smoke are generally heavier on the seasoning, although there are people who have an incredible ability to tolerate saltiness. I'm also a 'salt on the table' kinda person, cause I believe that even if you think your palate is perfect, and it may well be perfect for all I care, the guy sitting there may just want that little bit more salt.

tkern
12-23-2011, 12:28 PM
The kind of salt used really factors in to whatever the dish is. Salt combats bitterness on our tastebuds and "round out" flavors. Salt with a higher iodine content (like the salt with the girl spilling the salt out on the label) will taste salty without enhancing the flavor. Kosher salt ( Diamond crystal, etc) have larger salt crystals and no added iodine. A teaspoon of kosher can be used while a teaspoon of non-kosher will make your food taste like the Atlantic.

I don't mind if people season their plates. Everyone has very different reactions to salt.

Vils
12-23-2011, 03:02 PM
I recently ran across something on TV where some health people were talking about different types of salt and they said that the bleached salts most homes use is so lacking in the original minerals that a lot of salts don't satisfy your bodies need for salt and you will end up wanting more. Their point was that using good salts (they named some types that I can't remember) will naturally satisfy your bodies salt craving than other over bleached processed salts. I thought that was interesting.
First: Listen to "health people" with a grain of salt.
There are a lot of people who tries to sell the most bizarre things with vauge "scientific" arguing. Mostl likely they're just trying to rip you off.
Himalayan salt is one of those so called healthy products with a premium price and dubious benefits. (Here is an article in swedish (http://www.vof.se/folkvett/20073himalayasalt), google translate will help you if you're intrested.)
About salts health affects I recommend this text: Salt: More confirmation bias for your preferred narrative (http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/salt-more-confirmation-bias-for-your-preferred-narrative/)

Personally I really like the taste of greyish Sea salt and I loathe salt with iodene added because of it's taste but any talk
about "healthier" salts should be very carefully examined. I bet they're not true.

TamanegiKin
12-23-2011, 03:44 PM
One observation I have made is that the smokers in the kitchen tend to way over use the salt than the non-smokers.

-AJ

I remember a chef instructor in culinary school saying something similar.
I've always kept that in mind (I don't smoke) and have noticed some truth behind it.
Some smokers I've worked with tend to salt heavily and then under season after they get complaints on the heavy doses of salt. Just an observation. But then again I know cooks who don't smoke who salt their dishes to similar extremes.

99Limited
12-23-2011, 04:48 PM
As much as I have cooked over the years, adding the correct amount of salt to a dish, a pot of soup or what ever is something I never get correct. I always under salt since you can always add more but you can't remove the excess.

MadMel
12-24-2011, 02:25 AM
About health concerns, basically, all salts have the same chemical makeup so basically they are the same thing, just different in shape.

Eamon Burke
12-24-2011, 11:56 AM
About health concerns, basically, all salts have the same chemical makeup so basically they are the same thing, just different in shape.

Except for the fact that most of them are wildly different in color, and came from different oceans, and have different mineral contents.

compaddict
12-24-2011, 02:55 PM
Interesting article about salt on Gary Taubes site. Scroll down, on the right under articles.

http://garytaubes.com/

Vince

ajhuff
12-24-2011, 02:57 PM
MadMel is correct, salt is salt. The differences in color, taste, etc are from things that dried out with the salt during the evaporation process. The difference between a teaspoon of kosher salt and a teaspoon of table salt is due to the differences in mass. A gram of each is the same.

-AJ

Eamon Burke
12-24-2011, 03:28 PM
MadMel is correct, salt is salt. The differences in color, taste, etc are from things that dried out with the salt during the evaporation process. The difference between a teaspoon of kosher salt and a teaspoon of table salt is due to the differences in mass. A gram of each is the same.

-AJ

But you don't take those things out. Hawaiian pink salt and cyprus black salt are both very different from Morton Kosher salt. I know the NaCl is still NaCl, but that's like saying that apple pies and apple tarts are the same thing.

mr drinky
12-24-2011, 04:31 PM
From what I understand, bleaching of salt removes trace minerals that occur naturally through sea evaporation. So even though they are both predominantly NaCl, bleached varieties have been treated and remove these trace minerals. Unrefined sea salt will also have calcium, potassium, magnesium among other minerals.

k.

Eamon Burke
12-24-2011, 04:51 PM
Holy moly, I just ate a Grapefruit that was cut up and run across my wife's new Himalayan Salt block. It was amazing.

ajhuff
12-24-2011, 05:43 PM
From what I understand, bleaching of salt removes trace minerals that occur naturally through sea evaporation. So even though they are both predominantly NaCl, bleached varieties have been treated and remove these trace minerals. Unrefined sea salt will also have calcium, potassium, magnesium among other minerals.

k.

That's what I said. :) But admittedly not as well as you. :D

-AJ

Eamon Burke
12-24-2011, 10:58 PM
That's what I said. :) But admittedly not as well as you. :D

-AJ

OH I see. I think the misunderstanding on my part was that when you say "Table salt" I think of the salt on MY table, not ... well ... you know.

tkern
12-25-2011, 12:10 AM
Mark Kurlansky wrote a book called "Salt: A World History" a few years back. Its very comprehensive about the history of salt, different kinds of salt, mineral contents, iodine contents, etc. If anyone is very interested in this subject, you should pick it up; its a good read. About $10 on amazon.

MadMel
12-25-2011, 03:51 AM
MadMel is correct, salt is salt. The differences in color, taste, etc are from things that dried out with the salt during the evaporation process. The difference between a teaspoon of kosher salt and a teaspoon of table salt is due to the differences in mass. A gram of each is the same.

-AJ

That's what I meant if you'r comparing how good/bad salt is for your health.. And by salt I mean just the NaCl itself and not any minerals etc that may or may not be present.