"Until it tastes like the sea"

I hate this phrase. I read it all the time. Some person who has clearly never been close to the sea (and probably can’t swim) advises the reader to add salt to the water until it tastes like the sea. Have you ever swum in the ocean and gotten a mouthful of sea water? How did it taste? Did you savor it and roll it around your tongue? No, you spit it out and tried to find some fresh water to rinse your mouth out. Sea water is 3.5% salt by volume. How much is that? 35 grams in a liter, over an ounce a quart. If you were boiling a couple of gallons of water to make pasta, that advice would have you adding over 1/2 a pound of salt to the water. The pasta would be inedible. Pretty much anything cooked in that saline a solution would be inedible. Stupid saying. What ever happened to add salt until well seasoned or add salt to taste? Instead make a stupid false analogy. Rant over.

9 Likes

Now, being British I have an affinity with the sea. It’s in the genes. I think because we live on such a small island - none of us are more than 75 miles from the coast.

I don’t recall seeing your title phrase but it is, indeed, a stupid one. For all the explanation you give. FWIW, for health reasons, I stopped using salt about 25 years back. Don’t cook with it. Don’t add it to my food at the table. I tend to find food with the “normal” amount of salt in it now to be very, very salty.

6 Likes

I have never read that phrase. I tend to follow cooks whose foods I like.

Why do you follow cooks who salt their water in a manner you do not like.

1 Like

I live 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico in Texas and while I was taking care of my Mother I would go wade fishing and when I got back she said I smelled like the sea.

She always wanted to see the ingredients of the “magic” ice chest which was invariably full of speckled trout and redfish which she knew would be fried to perfection.

4 Likes

I live 7 miles from the ocean. I have fished both as a sport and for money.

I no longer have a boat.

I cooked a lot of seafood in ocean water, often on the boat, at sea.

3 Likes

I’ve eaten redfish just the once - as it’s been the only time I’ve seen it on a menu. Cajun restaurant in Lafayette, LA. It was served “blackened” on a bed of fried cabbage and andouille sausage. Really good.

News reports that Gulf red snapper populations have rebounded.

Try some west coast sebestes, aka rock cod. I think it rivals the much publicized red snapper.

Some times, our local (Northern California) ocean fish are sold as red snapper due to name recognition.

1 Like

I understand. I grew up three blocks from the ocean. Surfed and have been held under water so long your just waiting to surface for air . I suggest opening a raw oyster and eating it with its brine . They always remind me of the ocean.

5 Likes

Did you move from Santa Cruz to Redding?

If yes, how do you like the heat? I live on the coast, and look forward to SUN. But, I do not like the heat.

I knew Randy Fry.

Santa Cruz to mt Shasta.

2 Likes

I made it at my old house but you had to have a honkin’ south wind, Texan for howling.

I’d heat up an iron skillet for fifteen minutes on high, dip redfish fillets in butter and Cajun seasoning and sear quickly.

It created an incredible amount of smoke that I vented through the garage with an open window and the strong wind.

It was delicious with more butter. No sides were involved.

3 Likes

My first raw oyster was consumed while standing knee deep in the mud at low tide somewhere in South Carolina.

I’d been shown how to open them then handed an oyster knife…I plucked the oyster from a hand of them growing on a rock near where I stood.

I’ve been a spoiled brat about oysters after eating that feat one seasoned with nothing but saltwater.

(This was the early 80s and we were on a boat far away from any populations…so it was actually safe)

4 Likes

I’ve ranted about this on more than one occasion*. As someone who grew up on the Jersey shore and is not, nor has ever been, a strong swimmer, you absolutely DO NOT WANT the sea in your mouth. It’s gross. Salt your pasta water, by all means, but do not strive for a sea taste, because the sea tastes bad.

*I’m obviously drunk here, but I do make some good points. And I see @bkeats was mouthing off on this thread as well. Deja posted!

I think when someone says “tastes like the sea” it is a wordy way of saying “briny” – which can actually be a good thing (like briny olives or briny mussels)

Awesome. In pure form.

1 Like

I do also. I’ve made the same case as you and people who use that phrase get really defensive. On the occasions I’ve eaten their cooking they grossly oversalt even without reaching the salinity of sea water (skip all the other unpleasant minerals).

I have a very light hand with salt. I think most people use too much and professional chefs and cooks almost universally use too much. Within a few months (years ago) of backing away from salt I discovered I was tasting things in food that I had not noticed before. The salt covers those flavors up.

I had a discussion about salt with two chefs and a cook on a boat. The chefs are friends and the cook was along for the ride. One of the chef’s pointed out that smoking of various sorts, heavy drinking, and drug use are endemic to professional kitchens and many workers don’t have much of a sense of taste. This has led to heavily salted food in restaurants that has migrated into cookbooks and curricula.

I have a similar rant about “salt to taste” which means use salt to the extent it brings forward the flavor of the food, NOT until you can taste salt. The latter is oversalted, probably by a factor of two.

1 Like

It’s raining cats and dogs here. :smirk:

1 Like

In that case, you better watch your P’s and Q’s…

1 Like

I found this to be a very interesting article about the late Randy Fry, RIP.

https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/The-sea-was-life-and-death-to-Randy-Fry-2723879.php

1 Like

Grew up body-surfing at Sea Cliff. Absolutely understand waiting for the ocean to release you to the surface for air.

1 Like
“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold