Whether you’re a home cook or professional chef, cooking food that comes out too salty can feel like a huge failure. If you end up with an oversalted dish, don’t panic. Luckily, there is a remedy fixing over-salted food; excess salt can be tempered with the addition of a fatty ingredients, such as sour cream, heavy cream, butter, or milk. Here, acclaimed chef Wolfgang Puck teaches the art of seasoning, and how to fix food that comes out too salty.
“Musician(s) have to train their ears to listen to music. Painters have to train their eyes to learn about perspective and how to mix colors. In the kitchen, we have to learn how to train our palate and how to season things properly because without that, you can buy the most expensive ingredients and the food will taste flat.” —Wolfgang Puck
Chef Wolfgang Puck uses pea soup as an example of how to enhance flavors and train your palate—and how to fix a dish if you’ve oversalted. Always start with just a small amount of salt in your dish. Remember, you can always add salt, but you can never take it out. If you do end up with too much salt in your dish, adding fat is a good way to reduce an overly salty flavor. Cream, yogurt, and butter work well to cut salt—but be sure to add slowly.
Wolfgang uses a touch of honey in his pea soup. To balance the flavor, he adds a little lemon juice for acidity. (Look out for any seeds you might have accidentally squeezed into the soup.)
You should use freshly ground pepper whenever possible. Lightly toasting peppercorns in the oven before grinding them will release oil and maximize flavor and fragrance.
Keep salt and pepper on the table for your guests. This enables them to flavor the soup to their liking.
Cold food requires more seasoning than food served hot. The palate receives flavors of cold food much slower.
There is far more out there to season your food than just standard table salt. Learn about the many varieties of salt and their uses in cooking here.
A few good varieties include:
Wolfgang dislikes iodized salt because he feels it’s not good for us and it lacks flavor. Good salt does not look entirely white because it hasn’t been processed. Try sprinkling some high-quality fleur de sel on a finished tomato salad or a fish dish.
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