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You’re (Probably) Not Salting Your Food Enough
Season as you go
In our Epi recipes, you’ll find seasoning mentioned throughout the process: boiling water is salted; sautéed vegetables are seasoned while cooking; meat is sprinkled with salt and pepper before cooking; and dishes are finished with a final seasoning to taste.
Each of these steps helps infuse flavor throughout the cooking process, so that the final dish is as delicious as possible. It’s not enough to simply sprinkle a little salt on your food at the end of cooking—imagine if you roasted Thanksgiving’s turkey and only sprinkled on salt at the end. The first bite might taste okay, but only the exterior is seasoned. Every other bite would be dry and bland.
Vegetables, pasta, meats, they are all the same—in each step of cooking, you need to coax flavor out by adding a little salt, which helps draw out water and concentrate the food’s natural flavors, as well as spices, which infuses flavor throughout its structure. By seasoning throughout the cooking process, every bite is infused with flavor, not just the exterior.
And it’s key to remember that last “season to taste” instruction. Yes, we’ve written a recipe (and tested it several times, by the way), making sure to include the amount of salt, pepper, and spices that yield a flavorful end dish.
But those amounts can vary depending on your ingredients—especially vegetables—which can vary dramatically in terms of flavor. So before you serve, always (always, always) make sure to taste and season. Even if you’ve followed a recipe to a T, in the end, you are the cook, and you’re responsible for making it taste delicious.
Want to infuse even more flavor into your recipes? Finish them off with a final sprinkling of an herbed salt, adding flavor and color to boot.
History of Sauces
The word “sauce” is a French word that means a relish to make our food more appetizing. Sauces are liquid or semi-liquid foods devised to make other foods look, smell, and taste better, and hence be more easily digested and more beneficial.
Because of the lack of refrigeration in the early days of cooking, meat, poultry, fish, and seafood didn’t last long. Sauces and gravies were used to mask the flavor of tainted foods.
The main course, or primae mensai varied both in the number and elaboration of dishes. Roast and boiled meat, poultry, game or other meat delicacies would be served. No dish was complete without its highly flavoured and seasoned sauce. Contrary to present day preference, the main object seemed to be to disguise the natural taste of food – possibly to conceal doubtful freshness, possibly to demonstrate the variety of costly spices available to the host. Sometimes so many ingredients were used in a sauce it was impossible to single out any one flavour. One Roman cook bitterly complained that some of his fellow cooks ‘When they season their dinners they don’t use condiments for seasoning, but screech owls, which eat out the intestines of the guests alive’. Apicius wrote at the end of one of his recipes for a particularly flavoursome sauce, ‘No one at table will know what he is eating’. These sauces were usually thickened with wheat flour or crumbled pastry. Honey was often incorporated into a ‘sweet-sour’ dish or sauce.
Highly flavoured sauces often containing as many as a dozen ingredients were extensively used to mask the natural flavours of Roman food. The most commonly used seasoning was liquamen, the nearest equivalent today being a very strong fish stock, with anchovies as its main ingredient. This was so popular that it was factory-produced in many towns in the Roman empire.
Homemade Black Bean Sauce
This is one of the most versatile Chinese sauces that goes well with almost any ingredients, and is also suitable for stir frying, baking, grilling, and steaming.
I recommend that everyone who loves Chinese food have a jar of pre-made black bean sauce in their fridge. Here are the reasons:
The sauce is extremely versatile. You can view it as soy sauce alternative, only more flavorful.
The sauce is healthier than many other Chinese sauces because it contains less sugar.
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