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Training Your Palate

Wolfgang Puck

Lesson time 11:05 min

The key to perfect seasoning is learning how to taste—and adjust—the flavors in a dish. Wolfgang introduces some essential ingredients and then shows you how to turn a simple soup into a delicious meal using just salt, pepper, honey, and lemon.

Wolfgang Puck
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In 16 lessons, learn exclusive recipes and cooking techniques from the chef behind Spago and CUT.
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You know, musicians have to train their ears to listen to music. Painters have to train their eyes to learn about perspective and how to mix colors. Us 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 and people won't be happy. Now our palate really can recognize five different flavors. First one is salt. Then there is sweet. Then there is sour. Then there is spicy. And then there is bitter. Then you have the umami flavor, which really makes everything more rounded, more complex. The umami taste, you can find it in, for example, soy sauce. You can find it in dried mushrooms, in sun dried tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese. Now there are many other flavors you can add to your dishes. For example, herbs and spices. Let's start with herbs here. Now here we have, for example, rosemary. There are many other herbs like oregano, like thyme. We have sage. We have marjoram, mint, you name it. It all adds flavor to your food. You just have to find out what your palate likes, how you like it done. Now for example, you have many other flavors here. Leeks, onions, garlic, obviously mushrooms, obviously dill. So you'll have all these different flavors, which add to the taste of your dish. Now one of my favorite things also are strong flavors and spicy flavors, different kinds of chilies. Like habanero is really super spicy, or the Thai chilies, or the jalapenos. Now one of my favorite ingredients is ginger. Ginger comes in these knobs. Fresh ginger is easy to find in any supermarket today. Now ginger, you just have to break it off. Be sure it's fresh so it's not soft. It has so much fragrance. You can grade it, you can slice it, you can pickle it. The same thing is with galangal. If you make, for example, Indian food, curry dishes, so on and so forth, you add that. Here we have some kaffir lime leaves, which is also used in Thai food, Vietnamese food, etc. Chinese dishes use also a lot of ginger, star anise, garlic, scallions, and you can make a delicious Chinese dish out of it. Now salt and pepper today comes in so many different varieties. When I started cooking, we had one kind of salt, one kind of pepper. Now you have so many different salts, even smoked salts, for example. If you want to roast something or you want to barbecue something, put a little smoked salt on it. Now still what I use all the time is great, sea salt of Fleur de Sel. I never use iodized salt because iodized salt is not good for you. But also it has no flavor. Good salt really has a lot of flavor. You can see it doesn't look plain white because it wasn't processed. But you taste that. And I like even a little crackling when I put a few grains of salt on my dish. Now ...

Become fearless in the kitchen

Legend has it Wolfgang Puck came up with his famous smoked salmon pizza when his restaurant ran out of bagels—and ended up changing the way America cooks. In his MasterClass, the five-time James Beard Award-winning chef behind more than 100 restaurants brings you into his kitchen. You’ll learn not only how to master starters, mains, sides, and cocktails, but also how to take risks to create memorable recipes of your own.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Loved learning what to look for when buying specific foods. I wasn't expecting to learn that, but it's already come in handy! I definitely recommend this class.

5 stars. Very good, but Thomas Keller is still the best Masterclass.

what great instuction - I will more than likely try just about everything he cooked.

Great class will have to rewatch to practice dishes presented. Very thorough and interesting.



I'm a bit disappointed, to be frank. Herbs and ingredients have flavour, no really? Also, he said that iodised salt is bad for you — patently stupid thing to say because we add iodine to salt so that people don't suffer from deficiency in this crucial nutrient. It's important to use iodised salt anywhere you won't notice the flavour anyway — pasta water, rice, whatever.

Andrea C.

Good lesson. Makes you stand back and think about what you are doing. I am going to start trying to take the time to toast my pepper for example, instead of just using it in the grinder I always have on hand. Will have to keep an empty grinder for the freshly toasted pepper now!

Briana B.

LOVE how practical he is, teaching me HOW to cook, not just completing a recipe while being videoed. I have watched all of the instructors, and have grown to really appreciate this and now see how it's honestly what matters most.

A fellow student

I never knew iodized salt isn't flavorful and good for health either. I also just watched a Kimchi competition movie and the chef had to make sea salt in a tradition way for the dish

Eric S.

Where can you get the various salts he talks about? I can find samples all over, but I want to cook with various types of salt.

Louise Z.

Everything is great except a minor mistake. It's not a galangal but a turmeric root.

Savaunn K.

The best advice he could've given train your palate you must know how to balance

James E.

Basic and to the point. The sweet pea soup used as an example sounds just right.


thanks for the intro to oils & spices...I will begin using the less expensive oils for cooking & save the exquisite virgin/flavored oils for dipping & salads...

Magdalena M.

Vielen Dank, Herr Puck! Das sind hilfreiche Grundlagen - ich lebe in der Schweiz, bin in Linz/A geboren... Bei wieviel Grad rösten Sie die Gewürze?