Seasoning isn’t always easy to get right, especially if you’re new to cooking. Watch out for these common seasoning mistakes before you make them.
One of the biggest differences between an amateur cook and a more advanced one is the ability to understand the delicate process of seasoning your food. It’s not quite as simple as slapping a random amount of spice on your food and calling it a day. When you get more experience cooking, knowing the right amount of seasoning feels like a reflex, but getting to that point takes time. Here are a few common seasoning mistakes and how to fix them so you can progress your cooking ability a little more.
Strictly Avoiding Salt
There’s a reason why salt is easily one of the most popular seasonings around, and learning to use it correctly is a skill that takes some time to develop. What you don’t want to do is try to cut it out completely. Salt brings out so much flavor from such a wide variety of food that you can really hamstring yourself by completely refusing to use it. Obviously, too much salt can create health issues, but finding a good balance will help your food out a lot.
There is such a thing as too much when it comes to seasoning. When you’re using seasonings for rubs or marinades, you can feel free to go all out. However, you can ruin food if you use too much seasoning on it while it cooks. Seasonings are meant to enhance the flavor of the meal you’re preparing; they aren’t meant to be the star of the dish. Be careful with seasoning, especially when using more potent spices.
Using Too Much Acidity
The addition of acidity can be a benefit to many different dishes. Using an acid to cut through an extremely rich sauce, for example, can give it a brightness and freshness that it wouldn’t have had before. On the other hand, acids can also easily overpower a dish if you aren’t careful. This is why it’s so important to use it sparingly and taste as you go to make sure the flavor gets to where you want it.
Only Seasoning Once
Seasoning isn’t a one-and-done affair. A common seasoning mistake you need to fix is only seasoning something before you start cooking. It’s important to add seasoning as you cook so it can better incorporate into the food. Again, tasting as you go is crucial in these cases, as you need to be able to determine what your food needs even as it cooks to get the best flavor.
Using Stale Spices
Many people don’t realize that spices can go stale. In fact, many pre-ground spices are already fairly stale when you buy them from a store. They won’t necessarily ruin your dish, but fresh spices can have a much greater impact on the final result. Buying fresh spices and grinding them yourself with a cheap blade grinder can improve your food a lot more than you might expect.