Seasoning food correctly isn’t easy––sometimes your potato hash tastes like you’ve swallowed a mouthful of seawater, other times it tastes like there’s no salt at all. Getting a feel for how to season food and how to season breakfast foods like eggs, potatoes, and frittatas properly takes time, practice. Most importantly, you should learn the correct technique for seasoning. If you’ve ever seen a chef seasoning food, either on TV or in person, you’ve probably noticed a curious technique: Most chefs will season from about a foot above, allowing the salt to evenly disperse over the food like a light snowfall.
So why do chefs season food from above? There’s a pretty simple reason for this––other than looking a little bit more badass doing it this way. If you’re seasoning very close to the food, the food won’t be evenly salted, and you’ll either end up using too much to compensate for the parts that are lacking, or you’ll have unevenly seasoned food. The higher up you are, the more evenly the food is covered, but just to clarify—you don’t need to stand on a chair over the stove next time you’re seasoning fried eggs. Raising your hand about a foot above the pan or dish is good enough.
If you’re someone who likes to measure salt exactly as the recipe calls for, that’s totally fine. Just raise the measuring spoon the same way you would raise your hand. Sprinkling the salt over the dish this way allows you to see just how much is covering the surface of the food, rather than plopping a pile of salt on top of sausage gravy. Visualizing the salt in this way can help you become more comfortable seasoning without a recipe in the future.
Then there’s the second point to consider: Should you use kosher salt or table salt to season food? Chefs use kosher salt and sea salt to season dishes, and you will rarely find anyone using table salt in a restaurant kitchen. Why? Table salt dissolves more quickly than kosher salt. Seasoning with table salt means it’s more difficult to accurately judge your seasoning by sight. If you are someone who seasons by sight and feel along with taste, it’s important that you can actually see the salt when it hits the food. Plus, kosher salt has far less sodium than table salt, so sometimes what seems like too much is actually just right, and maybe even not enough.
Third, and most importantly: Season as you go. This is so important in cooking and frequently overlooked by home cooks. If you add salt to a dish at the end, it’s likely that whatever you’ve made will taste like salt. Salt is meant to enhance ingredients, so it’s very important you do this at every stage, not just at the beginning or end. If you’re making a frittata, don’t season at the end. Season the egg mixture before cooking, season the vegetables during cooking, taste, and season again accordingly.
Season, taste, taste, season, repeat. It will take some practice, but doesn’t everything? These techniques will make you a better chef, and most importantly, make your breakfast taste even better.