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Jul 31, 2012 11:59 AM

Salt and Black Pepper?

Is there anyone else out there in Chowhound Land who thinks that TV chefs and cooks overdo the salting and peppering before cooking anything? I have nothing against the use of salt if I cook something. If it needs salt, I add it after tasting what i've prepared. Often some of the ingredients already have salt added. I rarely use black pepper because of my obsession with hot pepper (chile, peperoncino, capsicum) in any form.

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  1. Well, some things must be salted before they're done cooking, like rice, and pasta. But yes, you have a point. You should add the pepper you like, not just black without question.
    Nobody doesn't like salt and black pepper -- the same as nobody doesn't like vanilla. But often many people like other flavors and peppers more, like you.

    12 Replies
    1. re: BangorDin

      The British food writer Elizabeth David thought vanilla was a terrible thing that should not exist!! Makes it hard to believe anything else she wrote, IMHO.

      1. re: sandylc

        Good for Elizabeth Davis! While I love vanilla in certain doses, I am very tired of pastry chefs and dessert creators who believe that vanilla should be a main ingredient in everything they bake or freeze or bring to a hard-ball stage. It should NOT be the base for other-flavored ice creams, such as strawberry or butter pecan; it has NO business in a fruit pie (unless the flavor profile you're aiming for is Hostess). It is one of the most over-used flavors in western civilization, and I don't understand why so many people believe it should be a prominent flavor in EVERYthing that has butter, sugar and flour as its main ingredients. It is so ubiquitous, its overuse now makes many baked goods taste cheap and commercial, imo.

        As far as the salt and pepper go, I usually add salt towards the end or when I'm serving it because I don't like a lot of salt. You can always add it at the table--but you can't take it out! Same thing with pepper.

        1. re: staughton

          As much as I love vanilla, you do have a point when it comes to things like fruit pies!

          1. re: staughton

            D'accordo (I agree) Staughton with your last paragraph.

        2. re: BangorDin

          Anne Burrell detests ground pepper and won't use it in anything she makes.

          1. re: LindaWhit

            Not strictly true about Anne Burrell. Although she doesn't normally use black pepper (she uses a lot of crushed red pepper) she will sometimes add it to a recipe when appropriate. Pasta Carbonara, for example, where she specifically mentions that she uses it because it is a traditional or important component of that particular dish.

            1. re: pamf

              OK, I don't watch her (or Food Network) anymore, but I did see her say she doesn't like it and doesn't use it on SOARC awhile back. Had also read it here on Chowhound.

              And everyone knows anything you read on the Interwebz is TRUE! ;-)

              1. re: LindaWhit

                Sorry, LindaWhit, didn't mean to sound harsh. My point was just that even someone like Anne who admits to a general dislike of black pepper will use it when she thinks it's appropriate.

                I should have gone on to say that I personally don't care for black pepper that much either. I think it overwhelms a lot of other flavors. But I keep some on hand and use it when it seems right.

                I agree with the OP that a lot of cooking show hosts seem to use it indiscriminately on everything. That's why I appreciate Anne's approach. Use what you like and be open to different options.

                Salt is a completely different thing because use of salt, can also affect the cooking process as well as the flavor.

                1. re: pamf

                  The only thing that bothers me about Anne's approach--and I do love her cooking--is that she uses crushed "red" in virtually every dish she makes. I don't think that is any better than using crushed "black" everywhere.

                  1. re: pamf

                    I could be wrong, but I suspect Burrell's use of red pepper flakes instead of black pepper is the result of her close association with Mario Batalli. It's Italian! Or is it just Italian American?

                2. re: pamf

                  I saw her make Porchetta recently and she emphasized that she was using a lot of black pepper, noting that was unusual for her but it was important for the recipe.

            2. I think many of the chefs now on TV work in restaurants and that is how they are used to seasoning their dishes. I tend to salt and pepper as I go like many of the "TV chefs" do, but that is only because I emulate the ones I respect, like Jacques Pepin, Sara Moulton and Lidia Bastianich. Once I learned not to be afraid of salt my cooking took a step up in the taste department.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ttoommyy

                That's pretty much it. The amount of salt used in a commercial kitchen is staggering.

              2. my experience has been that restaurants use much more salt than most home-cooks do. it's why the food generally tastes better. home-cooks often have no clue how to use salt and acid to punch up flavors.

                i don't have a tv, so don't know what happens on cooking shows. :P

                1. I like to add salt at intervals while cooking so it actually works with the other ingredients. However, the little dishes of "fresh ground" pepper that so many TV chefs have make me crazy. All the aroma disappears before it gets into the dish.

                  1. I can't taste the results so I've no opinion about the seasoning. And if the TV chef is Jacques P├ępin or Julia Child, or measures precisely as Alton Brown often does, I'd trust their judgment about how much and when applied - until I've made the dish myself.