Seasoning Your Food

With salt, most chefs, including myself, use Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Use whatever you want.  Diamond Crystal just happens to have the perfect size flake for evenly coating a piece of meat or fish.  Don't believe me? Get a box of Morton's kosher, Diamond Crystal, and fine table salt or sea salt. Evenly coat the meat and cook it however you like.  Then decide to use the Morton's and the table salt for other cooking projects.  Now, if it wasn't obvious to you, I am talking only about things you are going to grill or saute. Chefs tend to have at least a few types of salt in their kitchens.  I have six.

Diamond Crystal Kosher-Evenly coat your meat with it, but don't crust it, then cook it or put it in your fridge overnight and let the salt seep in and towel it off before you cook it to give the oil a nice dry surface to work with.

Fine Sea Salt I use for things that I want it to dissolve into quickly like bread dough or for salting cheeses like the ricotta salata we make in house that need a fine even coating to draw out moisture.

Smoked Salt for things that aren't going to see a smoker that you want to add a smoky finish to, say, seared scallops, where you would sprinkle on a few grains for a smoky-salty pop of flavor or to bolster the smoked taste in a dish like I do in my potatoes for my tartiflette which contains bacon, but love the extra oomph.

Rock Salt or Ice Cream Salt which I mix with whole spices and use strictly on plates for my smoked oysters.  

Prague Powder 1 and Prague Powder 2 which are for curing meats.

Bonus Salt!  I have been using coarse sea salt at home to season steaks.  Be fairly light handed with it.  It works really well when you are searing in a pan and want a pop of coarse salt on your steak, but don't want the added flavor complexity a Montreal steak salt would have.  Why wouldn't I want the added flavor you might be asking yourself.  Well, I am developing other sauce recipes and don't want the added flavors to be competing with my sauces.  Once I have them finished you're damn right I am going to be putting the Montreal salt on, too.


Go wild with soft herbs.  Parsley, cilantro(if you are amenable), chives, mint, dill.  Don't be shy. If you are worried about using too much, it's probably just enough.  But with rosemary, thyme, sage, and lovage, a little goes a long way. Don't be too forward with them.  Be coy with them.  Tease.  Same goes for lavender.  It should be a whisper in the ear.  Not an unsolicited crotch shot.


Things get more complicated here.  And before I go any further, please stop putting black pepper in everything.  Back off from it.  It's not necessary.  What should you substitute?  How about nothing.  Salt is necessary.  Spices are options. Treat all of them as such.  How much to use?  What does the recipe say?  Trying to do something new?  Refer to similar recipes.  Some definitely need a gentle hand like ajowan and kalonji. Others you can go wild with like fennel seeds and coriander.  Using paprika? Smoked, it's great. Spanish, use it in large quantities for a great fruity background flavor.  Cheap stuff? Throw it out.  It only works great to add bulk to inexpensive seasoning blends along with salt.