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Traditionally, Seasoning describes an item added to a dish to enhance the natural flavors of the food without significantly changing its flavor. Seasoning a food should not be confused with Seasoning a pot or pan which relies more on an alternate definition of Seasoning: worn in.

Culinary Uses

At Smart Kitchen, we approach Seasoning, as we would “Flair,” the Fourth Lever of Cooking™—as a final customization after you have organized, prepped and cooked your product.  Before Seasoning any dish, we should mention that since the cut of meat, vegetable, or liquid you may be using is NOT exactly the same every time, results can vary. That is why we Season as close to the end of the cooking process as possible to address the possibility of variations. Once we are near completion of a prepared or cooked food, we taste our dishes to know exactly where we are, and then we Season them to refine them and make them our own.

When thinking of Seasoning your dish consider the following mental check list:

1. Does the Dish Need Salt? - Nine times out of ten, it does. Salt reduces bitterness and amplifies other flavors in a dish. We add salt a half-teaspoon at a time until we can’t taste the bitterness but have amplified the other flavors. We stop well short of making the dish taste salty.

2. Does the Dish Need More Spices? - The amounts of spices given in a cooking recipe are usually just a guideline. You may want more or less depending on the freshness and quality of your spices, and based on your personal taste. When we check the taste of a dish for nuanced flavors, we think about whether enough of the spices are coming through and if they're in balance. If they are not, we can add a few more pinches to compensate.

3. Does the Dish Need Some Acidity? - If your flavors still don't shine after adding salt and adjusting the spices, your next option is to add a bit of acid. Lemon juice is our top choice, but vinegar, wine, a splash of hot sauce or other citruses also work well. Acid can “brighten” the flavors in a dish.

4. Does the Dish Need More Depth? - If the flavors seem acceptable but the dish lacks noteworthy savoriness, try adding something with a lot of Umami. Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce can do the trick as can a few finely minced anchovies or a few tablespoons of tomato paste. 

5. Does the Dish Need Richness? Sometimes a dish doesn't lack for flavor, but it needs something that focuses the flavors and harmonizes them. A few tablespoons of Butter or a bit of Cream can work wonders.