Why Salting to Taste Is the Worst Cooking Instruction
“Alexa, how much salt should I put on scrambled eggs?” This may not be something you’ve actually asked your Amazon Echo device, but look alive! The new Alexa skill Morton Salting Sous Chef helps you season your food and unleash your inner salt bae. Its sole purpose: To help home cooks salt many common foods with the ideal measurements, because the cue “salt to taste” can be confusing and ambiguous for many. “It’s insane that we don’t measure salt and yet we do for every other ingredient in a recipe,” Top Chef alum Richard Blais, who teamed up with Morton, told us. And with that, we asked Alexa to “Open Morton” and teach us how to salt.
The Morton Salting Sous Chef skill includes 4,000 dishes, techniques, and pro tips that tackle salting and cooking with precision. Alexa will ask, “What are you cooking?” If you reply that you’re grilling chicken, Alexa will follow up with the best type of salt, salting measurement, and cooking instruction. *Magic*
Let’s say you just want to discover something new about salt. After opening Morton, you can ask Alexa for a tip, after which she may respond with some tidbit like “To create a flavored salt, combine 1/4 cup of salt and 1 teaspoon of flavoring.” You can also ask for Richard Blais recipes, and she will walk you through some of his recipes for dishes like Hawaiian barbecue and rosé donuts.
The one thing Alexa may not tell you is which type of salt a Top Chef uses, which is when we turned to Blais. He recommended a smaller grain salt or fine sea salt for vinaigrettes and baked goods as the granules dissolve and distribute quickly. Otherwise, kosher salt is your all-purpose seasoning for meat, soups, vegetables, and grains.
It’s not just about choosing the right kind of salt for your dish but how you sprinkle it. Blais grabbed a fat pinch of flaky kosher salt, raised his hand about two feet in the air, and cautiously rubbed his fingertips together to slowly and evenly disperse the granules, echoing what chefs say when teaching young grasshoppers: “Season from a great height.” Practice when garnishing veggies (like roasted broccoli), grains like a humble bowl of oats, and even sliced steak — after all, the inside hasn’t been seasoned yet, Blais reasoned.
Though many of us may be guilty of under-salting our food, soup is one item that’s easy to oversalt. That’s because salt blooms in hot liquids as it simmers. Blais urged cooks to be mindful of the amount of salt you add in and to give it time to dissolve before adding more.
After all this talk about salt, we wanted to know which foods he would never salt. He laughed and answered, “Anything naturally salty like clams. They live in the ocean and they have salinity. Or a salted prosciutto from Italy or Spanish jamón ibérico. You don’t need it.” Alexa will even crack a joke if you ask how to salt something already seasoned like ham, but we’ll let you discover her punchline on your own.
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(Photos via Getty Images and Instagram user richardblais)