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Ask the chef: How can I ensure I don’t add too much salt?

Ask the chef


Dear Chef, I tend to over-salt and sometimes over-season my dishes as I experiment with flavors while cooking. How can I ensure I don’t add too much salt?


“The first thing to remember is to season throughout cooking to prevent over-seasoning. This way, you can always adjust. Taste as you go, and add as needed. The second thing many people don’t consider is what kind of butter a dish might use. Try only to use unsalted butter so you can control the amount of salt that goes into the dish.” 

– Chef Josh Castillo, Charlie’s Coastal Bistro

Seasoning tips

Season in layers: Rather than adding all your seasonings at one time, build flavors in layers. Start with a light hand, and season as you go. For example, add a pinch of salt when sweating onions, a bit more during the cooking process, and adjust finally before serving. This method helps in achieving a more balanced and integrated taste.

Fresh ingredients: Fresh herbs and spices have more potent flavors. Replace dried herbs and spices every six months to ensure they retain their strength and quality. When possible, opt for fresh herbs, which provide a vibrant flavor that dried herbs can’t match.

Taste as you cook: It’s the only way to really know what your dish needs. This habit will help you understand better how flavors develop over time and how different ingredients interact.

Balance with acid and sweetness: If a dish tastes too salty or spicy, add an acid like lemon juice or vinegar to cut through the saltiness. If it’s too bitter, a touch of honey or sugar can help balance the flavors. 

Experiment: Don’t be afraid to experiment with spices and herbs from different cuisines. This can lead to wonderful flavor discoveries and add exciting variety to your cooking.

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