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Salt and bacon??

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
OK, here's something that has blown my mind ever since cooking school, maybe somebody here can help shed some light. We were preparing some kind of sauce with bacon in it, I wish I could remember more specifically than that. Anyway, with the fried bacon and whatever other ingredients, the sauce was very heavy and salty, and unappealing. We went to Chef and asked him for his advice, and he immediately threw in about a handful of salt into the sauce.

We were shocked, of course- the sauce had tasted too salty to begin with, so what in the...? After stirring the salt in, the sauce was no longer heavy and salty, but instead sweet, rich and decadent.

This wasn't any special kosher salt or fleur de sel or anything like that- just ordinary iodized table salt.

So what in the world? Since that day, I've been truely amazed at some of the transformations that a little bit of salt can work on different foods- making spicy peppers sweeter, making potatoes less starchy, etc- but making bacon less salty truly blows my mind. Has anybody here ever noticed anything like this, or better yet, have any explanation as to how it could be possible?
post #2 of 6
This may be a silly question, but are you absolutely sure it wasn't sugar??
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post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
We were so surprised that all the students in saucier (myself included) went after to taste that it was actually salt.

If you want to try it out yourself- I've discovered that the effect is reproducable like this:

Chop up 3 slices of bacon, and put them in a frying pan at medium heat with some sliced onion, just until the onion is sweated, but before the bacon becomes crispy. Now add a handful of spinach, and wilt. This mixture will become sweeter and less salty if you add some salt.

The effect is not as pronounced as it was back in cooking school, but it is surprising nevertheless. A mystery...?
post #4 of 6
What kind of sauce was it?
My guess would be the salt pulls moisture from other ingredients, like the spinach mentioned, and that moisture delutes the salt components.
post #5 of 6
The secret may be in the spinach, I work a lot with spinach and Always heavily salt, I don't know the science behind it but spinach always seems to need a lot of salt.
For example I quite often find that you cook spinach, correct the seasoning and then upon cooking more or even leaving it to sit for a while you then have to re-correct the seasoning! I find this the same for frozen spinach as well!
It has always been a mystery to me!
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
As I had mentioned, it was just ordinary table salt, of the free-running, iodized sort. I really can't remember what kind of sauce it was back in school, but it may have been a cheesy bacon-y kind of thing.

I personally think that it has to do with the interaction between the bacon fat and the salt.

I've noticed that confit can seem a LOT heavier before the seasoning is adjusted too.
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