Don’t be afraid of salt

If you watch any of those food competition shows (I’m a Top Chef addict), you often hear the judges say the dish “lacks seasoning.” What they’re really saying is that the dish lacks salt and pepper, but especially salt. I’ve been in restaurants with friends who find this problem too. On a recent night out, one of my friends said her dish was lacking “something.” I suggested adding salt, and it was exactly what was missing.

There are lots of reasons why people undersalt a dish (or don’t even salt it at all), but one of the biggest reasons is the fear of oversalting something. If you undersalt it, you can still add some. If you make a dish too salty, there is no way to save it.

I grew up in a house where my mom never used salt. Her father had a heart condition before he died, which required a special diet that did not include salt. So she never cooked with salt. The result was I didn’t cook with salt until I was a bit older.

I realized when I got older that salt helps bring out the best flavors in your food plus it was the “something” some of my food was missing. It’s what my mom’s food, which was very bland, was missing. Plus I discovered all sorts of different salt aside from the traditional table salts. Those add such a better flavor to the food than your traditional table salt. I’m at the point when the only time I use traditional table salt is in water for boiling pasta.

I’m not like some people who have to add salt to everything (I have family members who do) or salt some pretty weird foods (an exboyfriend put salt on his salad), but it adds something to a dish.

What’s funny is sometimes we may think we’re adding too much salt when we’re really not. I’ve added salt thinking I may have done too much. But then when I taste it, I realize I haven’t. In fact there are times when the dish needs more salt!

Clearly there are times, though, when I have oversalted something. I’ve thrown things out or neglected to eat them because I accidentally added too much salt. But I can’t be afraid to add salt.

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