Shade Market Cooking: Seasoning

Don't be afraid to use your salt!

We all want to reduce our risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes by eating healthier. But, we didn't fall in love with food because of its health qualities. We fell in love with the taste. This is why seasoning is so important to us here at Shade Market.      In its most basic sense, seasoning is the application of salt to our food, which accentuates the natural flavor and aroma. Salt is also an essential nutrient.  For these reasons, salt is the only ingredient that appears in virtually all recipes since the beginning of time. With salt as the foundation of seasoning, a well-seasoned dish is one that attains a balanced flavor.     

Colorful spices from the market in Chiang-Mai

            Spice (black pepper, cayenne, cumin, etc.) and acid (lemon juice, vinegar,  and wine) are two key components used to achieve balance in seasoning. Carolina-style BBQ is a perfect example of how these three categories of seasoning work  together. The meat (always pork) is rubbed with a mixture of salt and spices, which work together to enhance the flavor and aroma of the meat. When it is done cooking, it is served with a vinegar-heavy sauce. The acidity in the sauce cuts through the fat adding "brightness" to the dish. We call this "brightness", because the acid shines through, illuminating flavors for your palate to perceive.  The result of this balanced approach to seasoning is a dish that has been enjoyed in the United States for generations. These principles of seasoning can be applied to all cooking and do not detract from the healthful quality of  food; they only improve the taste. 

     Now that we understand this trifecta of seasonings, it is most important to acknowledge the critical tool used in seasoning: your tongue! Taste your cauliflower as you're roasting it. Is it delicious yet? No? Add another pinch of salt, a couple grinds of fresh black pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Is that better? Could it be better still? This is the process of seasoning. Taste, add a bit more, taste again. This process separates sad, bland food from world-class cuisine. But, we are not trying to become world-renowned chefs, we just want broccoli to taste good, and with proper seasoning, that is well within our reach.

*We do recognize that a lower sodium diet is often recommended for people with high blood pressure by health professionals, in that case try using other seasonings while still following your diet guidelines.