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Sep 20, 2010 07:36 PM

Where does all my salt go in the oven???

Hey all, I'm not much of a chef, but I did notice something recently that seemed rather odd-

It all began a few years ago when I tried an experiment I had wanted to undertake for a long time- pulverizing classic flavored Doritos and using the powder as a rub for steak and chicken. Doritos are awesome, so I thought what a great south of the border delight :)

Well, the expectation was that it would either turn out amazingly good, or downright awful, with a chance of charred and disgusting. What emerged was unexpected though by any of us-

Complete blandness. Total and utter lack of flavor. It tasted like we'd coated the meats in plain cornmeal. Literally not a grain of salt.

I never understood why this had happened. Well, recently, I've been cooking fish in the oven and I've noticed a similar phenomenon. The longer I keep them in, the less and less my spice rubs have an effect on the final flavor. I use a very salty seasoning mix, and even with a liberal coating it seems to all but evaporate if I leave it in the oven for over 30 mins. And the fish is red from seasoning.

So, to where does all that crucial NaCl go??

Thanks all,

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  1. First of all, what is the Classic flavor of Doritos?? Is it the Nacho Cheese? Now they have so many flavors, I can't imagine even what the Classic flavor is.

    But a few questions first: what cuts of meat are you cooking and coating with pulverized Doritos? Were you using it on fish to replicate a bread crumb or batter type of coating? And did you use anything else (flour, oil or other seasoning) for the same purpose??

    I dry brine almost all of my cuts of beef, pork and chicken, mainly with kosher salt alone but sometimes with herbs and seasonings as well. Now, my method works in the fridge, not oven, and I'm no food scientist or physicist, so there may be a chemical reaction thing going on that I am not aware of. But I don't have a salty piece of meat either, since the protein molecules absorb the salt and uncoil, making the meat more tender and juicy, since now it has more room to fit the liquid (mainly water) that remains in the meat, into the cells, instead of just evaporating.

    I do not consider Doritos especially salty. And I consider myself one who is a bit sensitive about it. My husband can handle a salt lick, if I let him. And he thinks they are salty, so go figure. But my guess is, the meat is absorbing it, and it's a bit less than you think, therefore, it is tasting bland to you after cooking, as opposed to a healthy dose of seasoning either right before you cook it, (which is how most restos do it so there is actual flavor) or right after.

    1. Interesting. The Doritos in question were Nacho Cheese- the red-bag hyper-yellow goodness :)

      The cuts of meat were all over the place- good steak, bad steak, chicken. We also tried lightly crushed chips for a sort of panko crust, as well as pulverized ones for a fine powder- same results.

      Re: salt content in general, with this other seasoning I use on my fish, I get a salty-as-heck result from pan frying with even a little, but again, almost nothing with a liberal amount in the oven...

      1. Salt doesn't disappear, just your perception of it changes. Doritos, while slightly salty on their own, won't have enough sodium to adequately season an entire protein, just like you couldn't expect something like parmesan cheese to.

        Salt issues aside, if you were experiencing a lack of 'cheesiness', perhaps something in that chemical-cheese-powder-concoction-whatever is extremely volatile to heat.

        I have no idea what to say with regards to your oven salt issues. But perhaps you should try an experiment: equal sizes of fish, equal measurements of the seasoning, and pan fry one and oven roast the other. Otherwise it could just be your salt perception being off on a particular day.

        1. Can't say where the flavour went. I've never seasoned my food with Doritos.

          That said, salt added will stick around. Any flavour loss that you are noticing as a result of lengthening cooking won't be as a result of lost salt. Maybe baking down the other synthetic flavours in Doritos, but not the salt.