Salt to taste

All cooks can use a brush-up on the basics sometimes. I asked Teresa Urkofsky-Collins, chef-instructor for American River College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management program, which basic cooking technique her students have trouble with at first—and how to learn to do better. Her answer:

“One of the things that students often need to give themselves permission to do is use salt. Newer students frequently under-season. During my second class meeting, we spend a whole day discussing salt—where it comes from, different types and how to use it. Bake two batches of chocolate chip cookies using unsalted butter. Add salt to one batch of dough and use no salt in the other. The cookies with no salt fall flat and are begging for flavor. The absence of salt is glaring.”