Just who’s taste are we seasoning to? What do they really mean by ‘Season to taste’?
I read an article sometime back about this subject. They stated that if you gave 10 cooks the same simple recipe, you might get two that were the same tasting dish.
How can this be? First lets start with the very basics, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Well, what kind of salt. Kosher, Sea, Himalayan Pink, That Himalayan black (the stuff that tastes and smells like sulfur). What? I am being a nit picker. Okay, how about Morton’s table salt. Fine, you happy now? Well how about Morton’s with and without iodine? Point is, every salt mentioned tastes different.
Next we will go to that 1/2 teaspoon. Did you really measure it, or was it a double pinch. Measured it. Okay did you level the top?
Now that we have covered salt, what brand spices do you use? Are they fresh or are they the same bottles that came with the spice rack wedding present 15 years ago? And if in a bottle, probably not fresh anyway.
We grow herbs in our garden. Even dried they only retain the optimum flavor for maybe six months. What we grow is way to much for our normal use, but we have found at first harvest we dump all the old stuff ( usually in the tomato pots). Better than the garbage disposal , or even worse, the dump.
After our tins are full of fresh goodness, we put together one or two mixes (really just everything else grown that season and mixed together). Great for sauce bases or a good starting point. At this point I can promise you that a can of Hunts tomato sauce with 1/2 teaspoon each of herb 1, 2 and 3 will taste differently if made in different homes. Same tomato sauce, same herbs, right?
If you have been following what I have said, then I don’t need to answer that.
When buying herbs, we like to go to the bulk department and buy what we want. Oh, the bulk spices in supermarket A are probably from a different vendor than Supermarket B. Or go to a specialty store like Penzie’s we haven’t ever been disappointed and they carry variations of the same theme. Do you have any idea how many different curries there are?
So, back to ‘Season to taste’, that’s just what it means. Add a little more of this, that one is just fine. I would like a bit more salt, but the doctor says no. Please do NOT rely on the recipes list of condiments as gospel. Get started with what they suggest, a little more of what you like and a little less of what you don’t. Always taste the dish before serving.
Always remember that you can add little bit more, but it’s very difficult to take a little bit out. Also spicy does not mean hot.
If you love to play with spices and very flavor-able dishes, then buy a tagine and give Indian food a try. One of the best lessons you can learn about taste and spice is to learn about curry. One size does not fit all.
I will let you go with one more thought, who wrote the recipe and who was their audience? Betty Crocker? Some great starting points, but seasoned for the masses, their version of a shrimp curry dish is not at all like a shrimp curry dish from an Indian ethnic cookbook.
But when done, remember to season to taste.
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