Seasoning is the process of imparting flavor to, or improving the flavor of, food.
Seasonings include herbs and spices, which are themselves frequently referred to as "seasonings". However, Larousse Gastronomique states that "to season and to flavour are not the same thing", insisting that seasoning includes a large or small amount of salt being added to a preparation. Salt may be used to draw out water, or to magnify a natural flavor of a food making it richer or more delicate, depending on the dish. This type of procedure is akin to curing. For instance, kosher salt (a coarser-grained salt) is rubbed into chicken, lamb, and beef to tenderize the meat and improve flavor. Other seasonings like black pepper and basil transfer some of their flavor to the food. A well designed dish may combine seasonings that complement each other.
In addition to the choice of herbs and seasoning, the timing of when flavors are added will affect the food that is being cooked.
In some cultures, meat may be seasoned by pouring sauce over the dish at the table. A variety of seasoning techniques exist in various cultures.
Infused oils are also used for seasoning. There are two methods for doing an infusion — hot and cold. Olive oil makes a good infusion base for some herbs, but tends to go rancid more quickly than other oils. Infused oils should be kept refrigerated.
In Le Guide culinaire, Auguste Escoffier divides seasoning and condiments into the following groups:
Angelica · Basil · Basil, holy · Basil, Thai · Bay leaf · Boldo · Bolivian Coriander · Borage · Chervil · Chives · Cicely · Coriander leaf (cilantro) · Cress · Curry leaf · Dill · Elsholtzia ciliata · Epazote · Eryngium foetidum (long coriander) · Hemp · Hoja santa · Houttuynia cordata (giấp cá) · Hyssop · Jimbu · Lavender · Lemon balm · Lemon grass · Lemon myrtle · Lemon verbena · Limnophila aromatica (rice paddy herb) · Lovage · Marjoram · Mint · Mitsuba · Oregano · Parsley · Perilla (shiso) · Rosemary · Rue · Sage · Savory · Sorrel · Tarragon · Thyme · Vietnamese coriander (rau răm) · Woodruff
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