Cooks love salt. Robust and exceptionally effective, salt is the most powerful flavor enhancer know to man. Or woman. Because of its power, I have always used a light hand and treated salt with tremendous respect.
Dietitians are not suppose to love salt, so as a dietitian, saying I love salt can get me in trouble. But it’s the truth. Let me explain.
Salt has always been controversial and salt wars have been waged for thousands of years. The current battleground is our national health. Since upwards of 75% of the sodium ingested comes from processed and restaurant food, the enemy targeted is the food industry.
Remember Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution back in the fall of 2009? Jamie’s goal was to bring healthier foods to a school in West Virginia. He revised the school lunch menus and starting cooking from scratch. It was a fascinating reality show. After the series ended, somebody ran the numbers. Jamie’s menus were analyzed for nutrition content. Fat and saturated fat were over target, but sodium came in below target. In other words, cooking from scratch, using mostly whole foods, and salting to enhance natural flavors may have actually resulted in a net reduction of sodium intake. Interesting …
It seems to my simplistic mind that salt in the hands of a knowledgeable and talented cook is a great asset. For example, how else can we make healthy foods like robust greens, legumes, soups,or salads palatable to skeptics who come to sit at our table? There are no guarantees for success, but I know where to start. A judicious amount of salt, a generous amount of fat, perhaps some acid, and some culinary expertise.