Figuring out the perfect amount of salt for a dish is a major skill, but what if it could be boiled down to a simple formula? All of your dishes would be perfectly seasoned all the time. Sound too good to be true? It’s not.
Cooking, like most things in life, is both easy and hard. It’s easy to make a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s hard to make the best grilled cheese sandwich. What’s the difference between good and great when it comes to cooking? Seasoning.
My girlfriend is an expert seasoner. Every thing she cooks has the perfect amount of salt/pepper/spices and that’s probably because she’s also a trained chef. We can’t all be that lucky.
When I cook, I usually rely on some sort of internal salt monitor to know when I’ve seasoned enough. Some people call it a tongue. I salt, then I taste. Then I salt some more and taste some more until I reach the right balance. I assume this is what most people do. Not Bryan Voltaggio. In his recent Reddit AMA (“ask me anything”) to promote his new book Home, the Top Chef alum spills on everything from late night snacks to prospective future dog names, but the most valuable part of the interview came when someone asked “How do you salt? Do you shake? Grind it? Or sprinkle over the top? You can tell a lot by the way someone salts….” Voltaggio’s answer made my eyes bug out. Apparently there’s actually a formula for salting! Check out his answer:
“Actually, we use a very specific percentage to season our ingredients with. We use, by weight, we measure the finished product or the product to be cooked, and then we multiply it by .005, or a half-percent, to get the proper amount of salt to use to season the dish. You’ll see that formula carried through in the new book to make seasoning easy and formulate.”
No more dashes or sprinkles. Just good ol’ science. Of course, if you want to use this formula, you’ll need to measure the food which adds a step to a process that some people just want to get through as quickly as possible. For those of us that want perfectly seasoned food, though, this is a revelation. I’m going to have to start calculating my salt percentages from now on! Either that or I’ll just ask my girlfriend to cook.