Have you ever been to a restaurant and the food is bland? The secret ingredient it is probably missing is salt. Yes, salt. I find that when something tastes bland, salt is usually the first remedy to try. I taste it and think “What does this need? Salt? Sweetness? Sharpness?” Usually, it’s salt that is missing. It is an integral part of cooking. I usually use kosher or sea salt. I have a few speciality salts that I save for special occasions, like smoked salt or Fleur de Sel. But usually a good sprinkle of kosher salt is all that is needed to bring the flavour out.
Sometimes, though, it does need a little more than just salt, which is where seasoned salts come in. You can make your own by simply combining spices and salt and mixing well. Most frequently, I add garlic powder, onion powder and paprika to salt and use that for flavouring meats and veggies. You could also add cumin, coriander and pepper to kick it up a little and to use as a spice rub for barbeque. I usually add a little dry mustard powder to my rubs, as well. This actually helps to blacken meats, so if you’re looking to make blackened fish, add a little dry mustard to your spice blend.
Then there are salts that you can infuse flavour into. My favourite is to take the peel from a lemon and plunk it into a small jar of salt and let the lemon oils infuse into the salt. Rosemary is also great with salt. Just take a few large sprigs and bruise them with the back of your knife. Throw this into a jar of salt and you know have rosemary salt. These are mild, light flavourings for salt. If you want a more intense flavour, put the herbs or peel into the food processor with the salt and process. These are both great on grilled lamb and roasted veggies.
I know a lot of people are afraid to use salt on their food. I agree, too much sodium is not a good thing. But if you are avoiding processed and pre-packaged foods (which is where most of the sodium in your diet would come from), using salt on fresh foods you prepare at home should be fine (barring blood pressure and kidney problems). Salt doesn’t make food taste salty (unless you are using too much of it), but it brings out the natural flavour of food. If you have some really sweet watermelon, sprinkle a little salt on it and suddenly you can taste all of the flavours of the fruit, not just the sweetness.
Try some seasoned salts! Cheap, easy and tasty! Doesn’t get much better than that!