How To Season Your Food With Salt Like A Chef

It's all in the wrist.
Anna-Ok via Getty Images

One look at Salt Bae and some of us start wondering if we’ve been salting all wrong. It turns out we have, and it’s confirmed in the recently published cookbook, Salt Fat Acid Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat.

Nosrat, an acclaimed chef who had her start in Alice Waters’ beloved restaurant Chez Panisse, spends over 50 pages in her tome explaining how salt enhances food, and the right way to use it (which basically translates into using a lot more of it). She promises that if you follow her advice, your food will quickly go from good to great. And we all want is great food.

There’s a lot of wisdom in these pages, and a lot of encouragement to no longer fear this seasoning. But for us, this message most clearly hits home in Nosrat’s instruction on how a chef applies salt. Of course there’s more than one way, but we’re talking about the wrist wag.

The wrist wag is one step up from a pinch, and it’s universes away from a shaker or even a salt spoon. The wrist wag is done by “lightly grasping the salt in your upturned palm, letting it shower down with a wag of the wrist.” It’s with this technique that you can distribute salt “evenly and efficiently over a large surface.” We’re talking trays of vegetables, pieces of meat, and any meal you might be cooking on a sheet pan.

You can see Nosrat demonstrate the wrist wag in the video below, where she also shows how to salt by the palmful and how to salt with a pinch.

According to Nosrat, you should practice the wrist wag at home until you get it just right. Start by giving it a go in your own kitchen over a cookie sheet ― that way you can see how evenly, or unevenly, the salt falls. This might feel silly, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be enjoying evenly salted food and your taste buds will thank you.

Don’t forget to dry your hands first to ensure the salt won’t stick to your skin. And relax into it because, according to Nostrad, “the more your wrist flows, the more evenly the salt will land.”

“Get used to the way the salt falls from your hands; experience the illicit thrill of using so much of something we’ve all been taught to fear,” Nostrad encourages.

In other words, be bold and wrist wag because that’s the secret to great home-cooked food. For more Nostrad wisdom, you can get her book on Amazon for $21.58.