When preparing almost any dish: be it fish or meat, porridge or another vegetable masterpiece, pastries, and sometimes even desserts, it is impossible to miss one important operation – “adding salt“. Salt helps all the tastes of your culinary creation to unfold, even a dish completely devoid of spices and seasonings, ceases to be fruity if it is simply moderately salted. It is especially important to add salt in the preparation of fish, eggs, mushroom and vegetable dishes, and brewing flour products. Meat, oddly enough, needs salt to a lesser extent. Sometimes (but rarely) meat can not be salted at all!
Before cooking, the question will inevitably arise: “How and how much salt is required?”. It would seem that the whole process is very simple. However, it is often difficult to properly salt a complex multi-component dish. To put the salt moderately is a real art. However, if you have an impeccable “sense of taste” and culinary talent, then it will not be difficult to salt the food properly. What do those who are less fortunate? Usually, they learn, try, make mistakes and correct their mistakes, and also equip themselves with certain knowledge. We hope that our article will help you in this.
Salt in moderation is understood by different people in different ways. In the kitchens of different countries, understanding of how to salt is very different. For example, in the Middle East and Transcaucasia it is customary to salt dishes quite steeply, while in the Baltic States and Germany, on the contrary, people are accustomed to fresh dishes and they are trying to solder the degree of salinity. In addition, in different families the requirements for salinity vary. Therefore, an experienced cook, accustomed to feed only his household members, may not please the guests, who can consider the dishes as under-salted or over-salted. Not for nothing in many restaurants, as it may seem, they serve deliberately under-salted food. This is done so that everyone can add salt to his taste. Moreover, in most recipes there is no strict limitation as for how much salt should be added. And the notorious “to the taste” just indicates that the chef himself must decide on the amount of salt and please certain people – his family, his compatriots or vice versa guests from another country.
There are norms of salt that must be observed when preparing a dish (they are usually indicated in the recipe), and there are norms of salt only for giving flavor. The first are strictly permanent and obligatory, the latter depend only on your preferences. Before you start cooking, you need to determine for yourself how much salt you need and at what stage you need to add salt. Here are the general rules for adding salt to food.
- Unclear “To the taste”. If the recipe does not specify the norms of salt, it means that the dish is only salted to the taste and the hostess needs to be guided only by her own taste, relying on the experience and preferences of the household.
- Why should I salt at the end of cooking? The vast majority of liquid and solid foods are usually salted at the end of cooking, which helps to avoid salting. When the dish is almost ready, the volume of liquid (essentially for soups) will not change, and the consistency of meat and fish dishes, as well as vegetables and mushrooms, is already such that the salt will evenly permeate the dish (and not just the surface). That is, salting at the end of cooking is very convenient and helps to avoid a lot of mistakes. Another reason – products are faster welded in unsalted water (cooking, for example, beets and carrots in salt water worsens their taste).
- In addition, a number of products need to be salted only at the end of cooking – beans, lentils, peas. Products that contain a lot of water – cucumbers, tomatoes, green vegetables and other vegetables in the presence of salt secrete liquid, lose sight and taste (these are the main ingredients for making salads and determine the rule – “salt the salad before serving”).
- Add salt at the beginning of cooking. Salt in the beginning of cooking only in two cases – if you need a liquid (water, milk or broth) for cooking flour products (for example, pasta, dumplings) and if you need to boil fish – cooking soups. Here, it is simply necessary to salt the liquid before putting the listed products into the boiling water.
- Filling. All toppings for pies, cabbage rolls, poultry, etc. you need to salt twice as much as usual, since some salt during baking (frying or cooking) will be absorbed into the unsalted vegetable shell or go into the cooking water. The cooking water can become a waste or sauce.
- Sauces, especially if they accompany boiled fish and meat are also salted a little more than usual.
- Try for salt only by cooling a small portion of the prepared dish.
- When using ingredients already containing salt in the preparation, it is necessary to take into account that in this case it is necessary to salt less, or even not to salt at all. This includes the following products: tomato in its own juice, tomato paste, tomato juice, mayonnaise, canned vegetables, olives, capers, meat and vegetable broth cubes, pickles, canned fish, cheese, sausage and sausages, meat delicacies etc. In this regard, it is recommended to use unsalted butter when cooking.
- After the addition of salt to the dish, spices can be added. It can enhance the sense of salinity. Therefore, the true professionals of the art of cooking often add less salt than it is required to their dishes, in order to add spices, various sauces and seasonings, and to make sure that the amount of salt is moderate.
- To salt any dish moderately, you can learn a lot of disparate rules. The soup is salted at the beginning of cooking, and the meat broth is at the end, the porridge is better to be salted in the end.
- The number of these rules is depressing, and the very essence of the action of salt seems incomprehensible. Therefore, it is more rational to understand the properties of salt and act on them.
So, in addition to the property of giving products a salty taste, salt has the following effects on them:
It promotes the allocation of juices. Therefore, it is not recommended to salt meat and vegetables long before cooking and drinking. Products, the juice of which contains bitter (zucchini, cabbage) on the contrary, can be salted before cooking. Simply let the juice stand out and drain it.
It prevents the transfer of nutrient (but also some indigestible) substances into the decoction, reduces the solubility of many proteins in water and makes the cell membrane stronger than in many products, increases the pressure of the liquid on the product in solution. Therefore, to accelerate the digestion of solid products (for example, meat or legumes), they are boiled in unsalted water. Unsalted water also helps to reduce the content of beans and peas of oligosaccharides, causing increased gas formation in the human digestive system. If it is more important not to let the product lose its shape (as in the case of fish and pasts), or there is a desire to maximally preserve the biological value of the product (as when cooking vegetables for garnish), it is better to add salt to the water. These same properties of salt are used when we pour water for cooking eggs so that the contents of the shell do not leak through an inconspicuous crack.
It inhibits the development of putrefactive bacteria (but completely – only in very high concentrations, 10-15%). This property is used for numerous canning recipes.
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