“Don’t panic.” It’s on the cover of one of my favorite books for a reason, and I needed that advice badly tonight. I had just spent an hour preparing one of my earlier recipes from scratch and had taken my first bite of my steaming hot Sloppy Joe Tacos™. Expecting a sweet and juicy bite, I was overwhelmed by the major saltiness in my mouth.
I started to go through the five stages of grief. First, I denied that it was too salty, “I followed the recipe to the T! Chef John must have meant it to be this salty.” I then looked back at the recipe and saw that I had put in 1.5 Tablespoons of salt instead of 1.5 Teaspoons; meaning I TRIPLED the amount of salt in the recipe. This was when I got angry (stage 2). It was exhausting, but I’ll summarize my tips so that you can be prepared if this happens to you.
- Prepare – Do a bit of work in advance, set out pre-measured ingredients so that you won’t rush while cooking and err.
- Taste early and often – Taste your dish as you add ingredients so you can catch mistakes quicker and deal with them. Of course, only do this if there is no danger of bacteria.
- Rice is your best friend – Adding a grain can be super helpful in toning down over-seasoned food. This is what I did to fix my dish above (picture taken before rice was added).
- Drink your problems away – Adding more water might not be possible in all dishes but in soups and stews, thinning the dish might be a quick fix with little pain.
- Try again – Remember that cooking is a lifelong endeavor, learn from your mistake and your future self will thank you.
Excuse me while I go guzzle down some water…