Salt, in my opinion, is a magic ingredient. Salt not only tastes great, but it makes everything else taste better, too. Have you ever wondered exactly why sodium chloride sprinkled onto other foods has the power to unlock the doors to Flavortown? It is inherent in salt’s chemical nature and its incredible ability to heighten certain tastes and downplay less desirable ones. It can actually coax subtle flavor compounds from their sleep, enhancing their previously undetected presence into a pleasant, discernible note.
It makes sweets even sweeter by blocking bitterness. It works wonders as a brine for meats that have a tendency to dry out when cooked (chicken, turkey and pork). Salt rules the school in my opinion and I can’t imagine a cooking life without it.
I’m not saying that you should oversalt your food – on the contrary. I always implore people to season with salt to taste. Your taste. And the vital importance of seasoning throughout the whole cooking process, adding salt gradually as you go. This gives salt the time it needs to work its wizardry on the food. Someone wise once told me long ago, “If you add salt at the end of cooking, the dish won’t be deeply seasoned. It’ll just be salty.” I’ve never forgotten that sage piece of advice and pay it forward to every cook I can.
But do yourself a favor and skip the salt shaker (except for most baking) and upgrade to a salt cellar instead. Kosher salt, flaked sea salt, fleur de sel and fine sea salt to name a few. They all have wonderfully unique flavors. Try some of these different salts and discover a whole new world of flavor.