The Cookalong Podcast

Your Cooking Companion

Posted in Fixes & Tips
July 2, 2018

Turning Bland into Brilliant

I’m not the only cook in my house. It’s not unusual for me to be asked what’s “wrong” with a batch of soup or a sauce or whatever. “It’s missing something,” they say.

It may seem too simple to be true, but If your food tastes bland, it probably just needs salt. Most people seem to feel their recipe might need more ingredients, but almost always, it just needs more salt. They tell me they’ve already added a bunch of salt. Again I say, unless your unhappy recipe is already noticeably salty, trust me and add a little more.

When salt isn’t the answer, there are two other things that can turn bland into brilliant:

Sugar: If you have an acidic dish, like marinara sauce or tomato soup, adding a pinch of sugar will brighten and help balance the flavor. It only takes a little! But you’ll be amazed how well it turns “missing something” to “just right”. You can experiment with this in lots of savory dishes. Just a pinch.

Acid: A squeeze of lemon juice or a dash of vinegar cuts through fat, brightens flavors, and wakes up uninteresting dishes. Like salt and sugar, acid balances flavors and makes food more brilliant. Again, start with just a tiny amount. You can always add more, if that seems right, but you can’t take it out once it’s in.

How to know which one? If your dish is already salty and/or acidic, try sugar. If your dish is already a bit sweet, try acid. But remember: In most cases, it probably just needs salt!

 

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