Seasoning to Taste

The quantity of salt and pepper added to most recipes (except for baking) has been left, since the earliest cookbooks, to individual taste. The casual simplicity of the suggestion is appealing and for the most part good advice. Certainly, the balance of salt and pepper in most savory dishes should be adjusted just before serving. A flat sauce will perk right up with a little salt; a dull soup will blossom ... with the right quantities of salt and pepper.... Virtually everything is improved when it is seasoned properly.

For foods to reach their peak flavor, you need to add salt as you cook.... Think of a recipe as a construction project; each step needs to be completed properly before you go on to the next. Add salt and pepper lightly in stages, and then taste the finished dish. It is easiest to become comfortable with this process if you salt using your fingers -you will quickly develop an intuitive feel for what is the correct amount. A sturdy pepper mill is best for adding pepper at the cooking stage. If you build flavor in this way, your cooking will improve.

Vegetables should be blanched in salted water, and the water for boiling them should be salted, too. Pasta cooked in unsalted water will never be as flavorful as that cooked in salted water, no matter how tasty the sauce....

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