Cooking with Salt and Pepper
Explore the best ways to use salt and pepper and bring culture to your kitchen by trying various types of each. Create authentic flavors with Tilda® Rice.
Just like wine or coffee, salt and pepper from different environments carry the flavors and minerals of the place they were harvested from. And, finding perfect food pairings can be a process of trial and error, personal taste, or simply a matter of following sound advice. With a little help from Tilda® Rice, the path to culinary excellence isn’t so daunting; in fact, it is easier and more convenient than ever!
First things first, what are the different types of salt and pepper? Let’s dive into the ins and outs of these superstars of seasoning.
What Are The Different Types of Salt?
Let’s start with the basics. There are two types of salt, broadly speaking: sea or evaporative salt (which comes from saltwater) and rock salt (which comes from the land).
Sea salt is the broad term that generally refers to what’s left behind when seawater evaporates. Some are highly refined and pretty close to neutral in flavor, while other unrefined varieties carry a clean yet distinctive taste.
Fine Sea Salt
Fine sea salt has been crushed to a sandy texture which means it’s ready to sprinkle over any dish and will dissolve easily during cooking.
Coarse Sea Salt
Coarse sea salt works great as a seafood, poultry, or meat rub; when cooked with a bit of fat – like olive oil or butter – in the oven, the results are as delicious as you may be imagining!
Recipe Inspiration: A simple marinade gives this Salmon fish pie maximum flavor!
Delicate flakes add texture and extra flavor, but should only be used where they can be fully appreciated—think a few generous flecks over a finished steak, rather than salting your pasta water. Simply sprinkle flakes on a dish right before serving – the texture makes all the difference for steamed or grilled vegetables, a thick cut of meat, or eggs.
When it comes to seasoning water before cooking vegetables, rice or pasta in the pot or stirring into soups, this salt is the ideal choice because it dissolves quickly.
Recipe Inspiration: Season this light Chicken Puy Lentil Soup to your liking with ginger and curry spices.
Firstly, this salt gets its name from its uncanny ability to draw the moisture out of meat before cooking.
Kosher salt enhances the flavor of foods instead of simply making them taste salty, which is why a lot of cooks prefer it over table salt. This may seem counterintuitive but wider grains offer a more subtle flavor than their finer counterparts. Its coarse, uniform, easy-to-pinch granules are also easy to control.
Another benefit is that Kosher salt doesn’t have iodine, which offers a bitter taste.
Himalayan Pink Salt
Often mined in the Punjab region of Pakistan near the Himalayas, Himalayan pink salt falls into the tiny percentage of rock salt that’s actually used in cooking. Himalayan pink salt is loved for its rosy glow and its subtly sweet flavor.
Often used in block or slab form as a cooking surface, but also available in the more traditional coarse salt or fine grained variety, this sparkling sodium can be used for all your salting needs, from seasoning or finishing. Swap in Himalayan pink salt if you want to enhance other flavors in the dish by toning down the salty notes.
Note: Though the flavor is more subtle, Himalayan pink salt is not a low-sodium alternative.
There are two main types of salt commonly called “black salt.” Both salts have a high mineral content, which contributes to their strong flavors, and are at their best used to add some flare or a little something extra to a finished dish.
Black Lava Salt: The first refers to a seasoning that combines sea salt and volcanic clay or activated charcoal, sometimes called Hawaiian or black lava salt. These crunchy crystals have an intensely earthy yet smoky aroma which adds some serious flavor, but needs to be used sparingly. In fact, it is often used for plating and appearance rather than as a part of a recipe.
Himalayan Black Salt: Next there’s the flavor bomb that is kala namak or Himalayan black salt. This addictive South Asian rock salt is known for its salty, sour, and tangy all-at-once taste. It has a sulfurous aroma and savory edge, and is often used to add an eggy flavor to dishes. Black salt is common in Asian — particularly Indian — cuisines. This flavor enhancer is a key ingredient in chaat masala — a spice blend that is sprinkled on savory snacks and finished dishes.
Recipe Inspiration: Pair fragrant Tilda Pure Basmati with a flavorful curry such as Vegetable Rogan Josh. Add a pinch of chaat masala just before serving to take those dishes to the next level.
Now that we’ve seen how the world’s favorite flavor enhancer works, let’s dive into the world’s favorite spice.
What is Pepper?
Black pepper starts life as berries in a clump on a flowering vine (like grapes). The berry is picked just before it is fully ripe, then dried until it shrivels and the skin turns black or dark brown, producing what we know as black peppercorns.
Where does Black Pepper Originate?
Native to Southern India, today black pepper is grown throughout the tropics. As the world’s most popular spice, it is grown and harvested throughout the world’s major spice regions, from Indonesia to Ecuador and Brazil. And, just as with grapes used in wine making or salt, the soil and growing conditions have an impact on flavor profile.
How to use Black Pepper
Unlike salt, black peppers’ bitter bite and strong aroma don’t enhance the flavor of a dish. Just as the colors generally suggest, black pepper can be thought of as the yin to salt’s yang. In fact, the two seasonings have opposite effects: while salt is used to coax out pre-existing flavor from foods, black pepper often changes or overshadows them.
Black peppercorns have the strongest flavor of the peppercorn family – just a freshly-ground-pinch will add a bit of background heat, as well as some deliciously earthy zing to your food.
Black pepper is available whole, cracked, and either coarsely or finely ground. But, whenever possible, invest in a pepper mill and use whole peppercorns – you’ll be rewarded with more vibrant and powerful flavors than if you use pre-ground. With a flick of the wrist a good grinder can crush black peppercorns to a fine or coarse texture (depending on your recipe or personal preference).
What’s the Difference Between Black and White Pepper?
The main difference between white and black pepper is how they’re picked and processed, which in turn affects the flavor and potency. White pepper is picked from the same pepper plant; however, the berries for white pepper are picked at full ripeness. They’re then soaked in water to ferment, before the outer layer is removed leaving only the inner seed. Because the skin is removed, some of the flavor is taken, which is why white pepper is milder than black pepper.
When Should Salt and Pepper be Added During the Cooking Process?
Starches: In order to get all the flavor yet none of the sodium, make sure to add a pinch of salt when boiling rice and pasta.
Meat: Always add a salt rub (with or without other herbs and spices) before cooking meat; salted raw meat will absorb maximum flavor.
Cooking Tip: For meat and chicken, a salt brine may work but avoid it for pork as it might get spongy if brined.
Vegetables: You want crunchy grains sprinkled on top of your mouth watering sauteed vegetables, so unless you want a soggy texture, add salt and pepper right before serving. Of course, as salt extracts moisture, there are times – like while preparing tomatoes or mushrooms – that you may want to add a pinch at the beginning of the process.
Beans: If you opt for dry goods, rather than canned beans, you may be accustomed to soaking legumes in salt water overnight. Adding salt can be done during this soaking process or before serving, but adding salt while cooking is thought to make beans tough.
Soup: As salt dissolves evenly in liquids like water and broth, it can be added at any stage. Just keep in mind that you can always add more salt later on, so it’s best not to have a heavy hand at the beginning of your soup prep.
Whether you’re looking for new international recipes or want to perfect your favorites, with Tilda® Rice on your side, cooking is an adventure rather than a chore. Now that you have some inspiration from our delicious rice recipes and products, you’ll be cooking like a professional chef in no time and preparing dishes that will please every palate! It’s Tildalicious!™.