With the holidays in full swing, you’re no doubt going to be cooking up a storm all season long. While jamming out to Bing Crosby Christmas carols and watching the snowflakes fall outside the window, you might lose track of your “pinches” and “teaspoons,” only to find one of your dishes too salty or too spicy. When this happens, don’t despair: You can salvage that potpie, apple crisp or turkey casserole. Here are some tips that chefs use in the kitchen to balance seasoning mistakes.
When you go a bit overboard on the salt, you have a few options for balancing:
- Add liquid for dishes like soups, stews, casseroles and other liquid-based dishes
- Add fat to “absorb” the taste of the salt for most dishes
- Add something bland, such as potatoes, grains or bread
- Add something tangy or sour, like lemon juice
- Examples: Butter, olive oil, tahini, potatoes, cooked grains or cubed/dried bread
- Add liquid to dilute the sweetness in your dish
- Add a hint of bitter or bland flavor to detract from the sweetness
- (Don’t add more salt—it will only make your dish sweet and salty)
- Examples: Broth, water, bitter herbs, potatoes/grains
Whether it’s your stir-fry, taco filling or chili stew, too much spice can easily kill a dish—and your mouth.
- Add fat, milk or non-dairy milks, or something bland
- Examples: Milk, cream, sour cream, potatoes and starchy vegetables, butter or nut butter
Commonly a flavor attributed to leafy greens, bitter is a taste few people appreciate.
- As with greens, but other overly bitter dishes too, adding sweet, tangy or sour ingredients will counter the bitterness.
- Examples: Citrus juice, vinegars, apple juice, and light sweeteners