A salt course: Learn how to season with the best of them

Some people don’t even have salt in their house. Are you one of them?

Christmas brings plenty of random little gifts from relatives. One such gift, a compilation of the witticisms of Oscar Wilde, was given to me by my parents. It wasn't until I perused it that I realised Wilde had so much to say about cooking, specifically dinners.

One such witticism that jumped out at me concerned the process of seasoning. “For the British cook is a foolish woman, who should be turned, for her iniquities, into a pillar of salt which she never knows how to use.” While I feel sorry for the poor British cook at whom Wilde directed his ire, the sentiment of the riposte still stands today. Do we know how to season food? A few people I know don’t even have salt in their house and swear by the unnecessary action of seasoning with salt. Are you one of these people?

I cannot cook without salt. I have two types. A French fine sea salt for seasoning and an Irish coarse salt for finishing. Both are essential in their own special way.

How to make scrambled eggs with sea salt

The best way to demonstrate the use and necessary nature of seasoning with salt is by making a simple dish of scrambled eggs. Take four eggs and whisk them. Add a dash of milk and two pinches of fine sea salt. Add a little oil and a good knob of butter to a frying pan. When the butter begins to bubble, add the egg mixture and then begin to push it over itself with a spatula. The heat should be on medium/low.

Remove the eggs when they are 75 per cent done and allow them to rest and finish cooking. Grind some freshly cracked black pepper over the top along with a sprinkling of soft coarse sea salt (such as Maldon or Achill). Chopped herbs can also be added, such as chives. To finish, I love to drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the eggs. The fat and salt that sit on the surface of the eggs will bring all the flavours together when the mixture hits your mouth. Serve with some toasted focaccia or buttered brown soda bread.

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