The Paris issue

Our October issue is on sale - the Paris special. Grab your copy for all-things Parisian, plus ultimate French baking recipes and more.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller before October 24, 2016 and receive 3 BONUS ISSUES - save 46%.

Gourmet on your iPad

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad.

Recipes with zucchini

Whether served raw with olive oil, grated with fresh herbs, or pan-fried in a pancake - zucchini is a must-have ingredient when it comes to spring cooking.

Seven ways to do dumplings

Dumplings may be bite-sized, but they pack a flavourful punch. Here are seven mouth-watering recipes, from Korean mandu to classic Chinese-style steamed dumplings.

Twelve-hour Indian-spiced lamb shoulder with saffron pilaf

As the name indicates, this dish requires planning ahead. That said, the long cooking time is offset by simple preparation, with melt-in-the-mouth textures and deep flavours the pay-offs. Start this recipe two days ahead to marinate and roast the lamb.

First look: Cirrus, Sydney

Ahead of opening Cirrus at Barangaroo, Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt talk us through their design inspirations and some of their favourite dishes.

Shirni Parwana's masala carrot cake

"I'd love to make Shirni Parwana's masala carrot cake for our next birthday party. Would you ask for the recipe?" Emily Glass, Glynde, SA REQUEST A RECIPE To request a recipe, email fareexchange@bauer-media.com.au or send us a message via  Facebook . Please include the restaurant's name and address, as well as your name and address. Please note that because of the volume of requests we receive, we can only publish a selection in the magazine.

Flourless apple, almond, raisin and ginger cake

Creme caramel

"This is the best dessert of all time - no intro needed," says Pepperell. Begin this recipe a day ahead to rest and chill the custard.

Six ways with choux pastry

A light-as-air French pastry, choux balances out rich and creamy desserts, from eclairs to a towering croquembouche.

Worth one's salt

In my early years as an apprentice, as I learnt to cook like a chef, family members would look on in horror as they watched how much salt I would throw about. Thankfully, for the most part, they enjoyed my food and this fear of over-salting soon abated.

But this experience really illustrated how much salt chefs use compared to the average home cook.

I'll admit that chefs sometimes over-salt food, and this is a crime, particularly when under-salting can be partially corrected at the table to suit individual palates. What I came to understand as an apprentice, however, and continue to appreciate, is that salt makes food taste better, and the way you salt your food - the amount you use, the type you use, and when you add it - is one of the most defining influences in the finished taste of a dish.

Salt doesn't so much add flavour to a dish as act as a flavour-enhancer, bringing out the natural tastes of ingredients it's added to.

Try this test: bite into a slice of ripe tomato, sprinkle it with flaked sea salt and bite into it again. It tastes remarkably different: sweetness and acidity are heightened with the addition of salt.

There has been a lot of noise about the danger of salt in our diet, and there's some evidence that excessive sodium chloride can be harmful to some people's health. But natural, unrefined sea salt also contains magnesium, calcium, potassium and other minerals that are essential for good health. In other words, if taken in moderation, natural unrefined salt is good for you.

Fleur de sel is a good example. This artisan salt is hand-harvested from large shallow ponds where sea water is left to evaporate in the sun. Scraped from the top layer of crystals, fleur de sel is pure white (the crystals that sink to the bottom are tinged grey and known as sel gris). It's then packaged and ready for use without any further processing or refining.

I love fleur de sel. It has a beautiful albeit subtle flavour that just can't be compared to heavily refined, industrially produced table salts, which have hardly any flavour at all. And while I use fleur de sel a lot, I certainly wouldn't waste this expensive artisan French sea salt in my pasta water. I save it for salad dressings and to prepare and cook meat and vegetables where it can be appreciated. Sometimes I'll crush the coarse salt crystals with a small mortar and pestle so it better integrates with a dressing, but I'll usually leave them whole and coarse to sprinkle over just-cooked asparagus, because their texture can be lovely.

I also really like Murray River salt from the salt lakes around Mildura, because the perfect-shaped flakes crush easily between your fingers. And it's Australian.

Knowing when to salt your food is also important. Timing is everything. For example, if you salt your minestrone at the very end of cooking it will never have the same depth of flavour as it does when you salt everything early in the piece, while the vegetables are still sautéing in the pot.

Salt also draws the moisture out of food. When I sweat onion in a pan, I like to add a little salt for this very reason. This may or may not be desirable, depending on how you want your onions to turn out. As a general rule, though, I like to add salt to my onions or sofrito once they have started to soften and colour slightly, because this is often when you could use some moisture in the pan.

Salt in large quantities also acts as a preservative, preventing the growth of bacteria, yeasts and microorganisms and slowing the oxidation of fats. Cover a side of salmon in salt and the fish will be cured in just a couple of days, and not only will it be preserved, but its texture and taste will also have changed.

I've often been asked if it's okay to salt meat before cooking it. The answer is yes: seasoning your meat well before cooking - whether it be a steak on the barbecue, a chicken in the oven or a whole lamb on the spit - gives the salt time to penetrate the meat and subtly enhance its flavour. I wouldn't recommend pre-salting small or thin pieces of meat, however, lest the salting draw too much moisture from the meat, drying it out and making it less tender.

In short, salt makes food taste better, but the key is to use it wisely.

Newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
Recipes by Yama Kitchen & Bar
20.09.2016
Cutting edge: Sydney’s new Chef’s Armoury store
16.09.2016
What is migas?
15.09.2016
Richard Cornish’s year without meat
12.09.2016
Hetty McKinnon returns with 'Neighbourhood'
08.09.2016
On The Pass: Kenny McHardy, Manuka Woodfire Kitchen
05.09.2016
GT
Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
Twenty
things to do this autumn

Whether it's foraging for wild mushrooms in a picturesque Victorian forest or watching a film by moonlight in Darwin, we've got you covered with 20 exciting autumn experiences from around Australia.

Read More
Gourmet TV

Check out our YouTube channel for our latest cover recipes, chef cooking demos, interviews and more.

Watch Now

You might also like...

Blame the flame

Chef Lennox Hastie worked the coals at Spain’s famed Etxebar...

Prepared chestnuts

A fresh chestnut is a hard nut to crack, so we’re lucky, the...

How to carve a jack-o'-lantern

We ask three American chefs to share their pumpkin carving s...

How to grow garlic

Garlic has a long growing time, but low maintenance and fres...

How to grow broccoli

Broccoli is the most prolific member of the brassica family ...

How to pickle fruit and vegetables

I’m keen to get in on this pickling thing. Where’s a good pl...

How to plant broad beans

Plant broad beans now, when the weather is cool, and they’ll...

How to grow chillies

This is the time of year for vegetables that like it hot and...

How to cook wagyu

I’ve been noticing restaurant-grade wagyu in good butcher’s ...

Classic Sunday roast ideas

What’s the key to nailing a really good classic Sunday roast...

What is Buddha’s hand?

This freakishly shaped fruit, aka fingered citron, hails fro...

Home-dried herbs

I’ve got a surplus of herbs in the garden; how do I get the ...

Are any spring flowers worth eating?

With borage flowers and violets everywhere, it’s easy to for...

Quick meals with chilli bean paste

This handy Chinese condiment is a sure-fire speedy way of ad...

Best meat for big parties

What can you suggest that’s low maintenance and high impact ...

get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

×