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Expert advice| 08.11.2021
PERFECTLY SEASONED DISHES
Good seasoning is as important as the correct oven settings when it comes to creating a delicious meal. Here are our helpful guidelines and tips to help you perfect the art of seasoning.
Seasoning means adding elements (salt, pepper, spices, herbs, oils, vinegars, etc.) that enhance, personalise or improve the taste of a dish. A delicate art that’s crucial for any good chef to master, it all starts with a solid knowledge of the ingredients.
There are several types of salt. Whether it’s cooking salt or fine table salt, this seasoning is always close to hand in kitchens and dining rooms. Coarse salt is mainly used to salt cooking water for pasta or broths, or to make salt crusts. Finally, extra fine sea salt is sprinkled on a dish just after cooking or when cold so that the crunchy texture of the salt crystals isn’t distorted.
The ultimate spice! There are many different kinds of pepper. “True” peppers (that is, the ones that originate from the Piper nigrum plant), are black, grey, white or green in colour. The long pepper and the cubeb pepper, also part of the piperaceae family, are very popular too. There are also “false peppers” from other botanical families, such as Sichuan, Selim or pink peppers. They all have distinct flavours and consequently add their own unique touch to a dish.
Herbs and spices
Spices add a new dimension to a meal. In fact, their delicious flavours often make them an essential ingredient in a dish. For example, masala in a curry, ras el hanout in a tagine... and no speculoos would be complete without the warm taste of cinnamon. It’s best to add them to your meal right at the last moment. Although, for some recipes, they’re better pan-fried beforehand. Aromatic herbs add personality and freshness to your favourite dishes. You can also find these delicate flavours, such as basil and thyme, infused in olive oils.
When is the best time to add seasoning?
Good question! Vegetables aren’t particularly hard to season (apart from legumes, which need to be salted after cooking to avoid them becoming hard). However, seasoning meat isn’t always easy. Grilled meats are usually salted after cooking to prevent the natural juices from being drawn out (though salting them halfway through the cooking process makes for tasty juice). So, what about pepper? Using it raw preserves its flavour but doesn’t give it an intense, powerful taste. Herbs are a little more clear cut: dried herbs should be added during cooking, while fresh or frozen herbs should be added at the end, just before serving. Herbs and spices will work wonders in marinades too.
Taste your dishes before and after you season
It can’t be said enough: it’s good practice to taste your food while it cooks. Even the best chefs need to test their creations as they’re being made. Sometimes, it’s better to taste certain ingredients before you start. A tomato, for example, can taste sweeter or more acidic due to natural variations. For cooked dishes, it’s best to seasoning after cooking or just before serving.
Aromatic oils to season dishes
Perhaps less well-known, aromatic oils or flavoured oils make for a delicious final touch that can completely transform a dish!
How should I use them?
Infused with different elements (herbs, flowers, spices, citrus fruits...), ideally through maceration, these oils taste great drizzled over toast. Of course, they also season salads, steamed vegetables, pasta, grilled meat and fish... Combined with vinegar, they also make a delicious, original dressing.
Which oil for which use?
There are some classic flavour combinations out there, but a bit of originality is never a bad thing! Our black truffle flavour olive oil tastes delicious with steamed or mashed potatoes. Lemon olive oil really brings out the best in fish as well as beef or fennel carpaccio. Provençal herbs olive oil and warm goat’s cheese salad is a match made in heaven, oregano olive oil is a perfect pizza topping, and basil oil is a must-have for tomato and mozzarella salads or dressing garlic pasta. With its original flavour, our smoked chilli oil tastes delicious alongside the sweetness of carrots or sweet potatoes, and nothing lifts a fruit salad like our vanilla & combava olive oil... Get creative!