SEASON LIKE A CHEF

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The techniques and items listed on this page are ones that I have used as a chef in professional kitchens and in my own for many years. If you’re visiting this page then you are my customer, and I want you to be able to shop, cook and eat like a chef.

HERE ARE SOME GUIDELINES TO HELP YOU UP YOUR SEASONING GAME IN THE KITCHEN.

For the most part chef’s don’t use a lot of premixed spice blends. They may mix their own but the primary seasoning in most great restaurants in salt and pepper. The kind of salt and pepper you use, and how you use it will make a difference in how your food tastes.

This is one of the biggest factors when using salt in the kitchen: DON’T USE IODIZED SALT. Iodized salt leaves a harsh iodine flavor on your foods. Also, most iodized salt doesn’t dissolve very well when cooking. Always use a high-quality Kosher salt like Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, 3 lbs This salt is my absolute favorite.

When seasoning foods with S & P hold the seasoning about six inches above the food and let it pass through your fingers while moving your hand slowly over you food. This little technique will help you season food more evenly. It also looks very chefy.

Use coarse salt when seasoning with just salt and pepper. Coarse salt is better for seasoning by hand because it’s easier to see and you can feel the grains pass through your fingers.

Use a fine ground salt when making a seasoning blend with powdered spices. A fine ground salt will stay more evenly dispersed than a coarse salt. Try to use salt that has grains that are as close as possible in size to the spices you are using.

Try using a finishing salt like Maldon Salt Company, Sea Salt Flakes, 8.5 Ounce (240 gram box) for a different twist on your food. Put this on beef, fish, chicken, vegetables, even ice cream right before serving (think salted caramel ice cream with a few crispy light flakes of salt). Maldon salt has a unique texture that adds variety to a lot of different dishes.

Season proteins like beef, fish or chicken before you start cooking them and not during or after. Seasoning before cooks the seasoning into the product so it will have a uniform seasoned flavor.

When cooking vegetables season them right when you start to saute them. Season a vegetable too early and it draws out the water and makes for a dry, rubbery vegetable. Sprinkle salt and pepper on your veggies right when they hit the pan. This draws some of the water out and will actually helps them cook.

Season pasta water before you drop your pasta in. Generally speaking I like to use 7 teaspoons of coarse kosher salt per gallon of water, but ultimately how you salt your pasta water depends on the saltiness of the sauce you plan to cook it in. ALWAYS TASTE THE WATER BEFORE YOU DROP THE PASTA IN. I’ve seen many chefs on TV set a bad example by haphazardly throwing salt into a pot of pasta water and never taste it. If you’re using a really salty sauce then back down on the quantity of salt in the water. Coarse salt is typically cheaper per ounce than fine salt so use it for seasoning liquids like water for cooking pasta, potatoes and beans. It will save you a little money.

DON’T RINSE YOUR PASTA AFTER COOKING. Pasta is like a sponge. If you rinse it after cooking, the pasta will absorb the unflavored tap water, displace all of the seasoned water you cooked into it and won’t absorb any pasta sauce. Why cook al dente? Pasta cooked al dente and finished in the sauce will absorb the flavor of your pasta sauce. So instead of tasting pasta then sauce as two separate things, you’ll taste a uniformly flavored saucy pasta.

Don’t use salted butter for cooking. Salted butter is rarely used in restaurant kitchens. The main reason for that is because it takes control of the seasoning process out of your hands and puts it in the hands of the people who made that salted butter. Use unsalted butter and get better control of the flavor of your food and salt intake.

When cooking recipes with multiple steps make sure your food is well seasoned every step of the way. For example: if you’re making meatloaf or meatballs try cooking a small amount in a pan before forming and baking it. When making a soup that requires cooking some vegetables first, make sure your veggies are seasoned before you add liquid. IF YOU’RE FOOD IS SEASONED WELL AT EVERY STEP OF THE COOKING PROCESS THEN YOUR FINAL PRODUCT WILL TASTE GREAT.

If you’re cooing a new recipe that calls for a soup base paste or powder try adding it at the end. This way you don’t run the risk of over-salting.

This might be the most important tip of all when seasoning. TASTE, TASTE, TASTE. Taste your food throughout the cooking process and use all of your senses to make mental notes on how the flavor changed at different stages of cooking. This process will help you develop the ability to season by instinct, which is the way most culinary professionals do it. This skill is especially useful when cooking things you can’t cut in to, like whole pieces of meat, fish or chicken. COOK, EAT, REPEAT.

Whole and ground spices on spoons

BLACK PEPPER AND WHOLE SPICES

The bottom line here is grind and grate as much as you can yourself. There is no substitute for freshly ground spices.

Every professional cook or chef carries their own personal peppermill. Try the Peugeot Pepper Mill 8.5 inch – Chocolate. This is the exact peppermill I use at home almost every day.

Store all or your spices in a cool, dark. dry place in an airtight container. Oxygen, heat, and light are the enemy of spices. After using a spice make sure the lid is replaced and make a tight seal.

I love freshly grated nutmeg. Especially in cream-based sauces, gravies and grits. Buy a good grater and zester and it will do a lot of different things for you and last a long time. I use the Microplane 46620 Premium Classic Series Zester Grater, 18/8, Yelow. It’s not just for spices. You can grate citrus zest, ginger, hard cheeses and it comes in multiple colors.

HERE IS A QUICK REFERENCE OF TOOLS AND INGREDIENTS GREAT FOR SEASONING

Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, 3 lbs (Pack of 2) is my favorite all-purpose kitchen salt.

Maldon Salt Company, Sea Salt Flakes, 8.5 Ounce (240 gram box) is a finishing salt that adds a unique crispy texture to your cooking.

If you’re looking for a coarse sea salt for a grinder then try. La Baleine Coarse Sea Salt, 26.50 ounce each (Pack of 2), flavor taste coarseI first started using this salt twenty years ago in my first French kitchen.

Peugeot Pepper Mill 8.5 inch – Chocolate I use this same peppermill at home on a daily basis.

Microplane 46120 Premium Zester Grater-Made in USA Stainless Steel Blade-for zesting Citrus and Grating Cheese-Soft Touch Handle-Red. Great tool for grating all kinds of things. I like the red one.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or comments. Get in touch with me through the Contact page or just send me an email at theangryeater@yahoo.com. I’d love to know what you think.