Season to Taste

Whenever I see the directions “Season to Taste” in a recipe, I think about the time when I moved into my first apartment and made the commitment to cook my own food. At the time, I lived by myself in a pre-war fourth story walk-up in Brooklyn, and even though my food options seemed unlimited, I realistically could not afford to eat out every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I called my mother a lot for advice on how to make her soul food dishes and other staples that I grew up with. No one cooks like Mom, right? Her recipes were unwritten and flowed more like poems of oral tradition: add a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. Add… I don’t know―a few tablespoons of butter. Cook with the wine you’d drink. Don’t use high heat.

Most of her advice revolved around seasoning the food well with herbs, spices, and salt, and to taste regularly while the food is cooking. Season to taste.

What does the phrase season to taste actually mean? According to most cooks and chefs I cooked with, it is simply adding the right amount of salt to the dish for flavor. “Anything that heightens flavor is a seasoning, but the term generally refers to salt since it’s the most powerful flavor enhancer and modifier” (Nosrat, 2017). My mother went to the French Culinary Institute (Now the International Culinary Center), and can attest to this same definition.

So, if your dish is missing some pizzazz, some oomph, or some bam!, it most likely needs more salt. Unless otherwise instructed by your doctor, you do not need to worry about adding too much of it since the salt we add to our home cooking is significantly less than the amount added to fast food establishments and chain restaurants.

Steps for Seasoning to Taste

  1. Taste it
  2. What is missing?

You should be able to taste each ingredient of your dish.

  • Add salt in small amounts
  • Repeat
  • Do you like it?

Follow these steps and you’ll soon find the flavors you desire release from the meats, vegetables, and fruits.


Nosrat, Samin, (2017). Salt Fat Acid Heat. Simon & Schuster.

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