Cooking from home: Aromatics and seasoning

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) In the last instalment from our cooking from home series, Chef Sean Walklin teaches us the importance of aromatics and seasoning. He said that it is the foundation to any meal.

Chef Sean Walklin said that aromatics are the foundation of any meal. (John Dougherty/KTVF)

"How to use aromatics -- I think that everybody is familiar with the garlic and onion -- sautéing those. Becoming more advanced is just trying more combinations and thinking about 'what do I want this food to taste like, what is the flavor that I want to come through'" Chef Sean said.

He said when you are cooking them it is easy to see why they are called aromatics. “It's going to smell really good almost immediately."

Chef Sean said that things like peppers, onions, garlic and woody herbs make up the base of most aromatics. He said that every culture uses aromatics in their food; it’s just a matter of which and how much.

“When you are cooking at home, the first step is to say, 'What do I want this to taste like?' And then really think about how you are going to get there, and then let the ingredients that you have purchased or chosen come through at the end," said Chef Sean.

When choosing spices, he said that you should consider who you are cooking for and adjust seasoning for their taste.

Chef Sean encourages home cooks to be careful with their seasoning so that they don’t put too much in. "You can always add more liquid, you can always add more seasoning -- it's much harder to take it out. So when in doubt add a little less than you need."

He also said that when you are seasoning to make sure you taste the food as you go. "Learning to season is really a trial and error and something you need to develop over time, and tasting as much as possible is really important. Because if you don't taste your food as it goes and only taste it at the end, you won't really understand how the flavor changes over time," he said.

Chef Sean said that a common mistake is seasoning food too early, "And so salt and pepper and your main seasoning, that is something you want to do at the end -- because the flavor is going to change over time. It's okay if you do a little bit in the beginning, but you don't want to do the majority of your seasoning until afterwards.”

He clarified that aromatics start a dish, but seasoning finishes it. He said a common way to season is adding some fresh herbs, and acid like citrus or vinegar that will bring depth to the meal.

Most importantly, he wants everyone to keep cooking and trying new things.

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