What’s the one thing you can do to instantly improve your cooking? According to Neil Perry, it’s more salt. “Honestly mate, the difference between a home cook and a professional cook, 99 per cent of the time, is the amount of salt we use,” Perry says. “Salt is the only seasoning. Everything else is flavouring. Salt brings the natural flavour out in things.”
The chef-turned-restaurateur behind both award-winning fine diners (Rockpool, Eleven Bridge) and fast-food style takeout joints (Burger Project, Sake Jnr.) says food just doesn’t taste good unless there’s salt in it. This doesn’t just apply to meat or even cooked food, he says. “Even lettuce. Really great salt, olive and pepper, a salad can taste great with that simplicity.”
Needless to say, the salt you use is extremely important. A commercial, ultra-processed table salt isn’t going to give your steak or sheet of lettuce the same pizzazz as sea or rock salt. Nor will it provide any nutritional benefit, unlike, say Himalayan pink salt, which is high in iron and other minerals. “I use Maldon sea salt at home, it's one of the old school ones but I really like it. In restaurants, we use Murray River salt a bit. It's a really good salt. We use that on the burgers at Burger Project.”
“What you have to be careful with is changing salt. They all have different intensities of saltiness so if you're used to using that much salt and all of a sudden you grab a different salt and [use the same amount], you'll fuck it up,” says Perry.