Who knew there’s a national day to remind us to step away from the salt shaker, meant to encourage us to reach for herbs instead of salt? The Disney chefs love the idea, and we’re sharing a few of their favorite tips.
Chef Christian Rumpler, Trattoria al Forno, Disney’s Boardwalk: “You could always liven up a dish with fresh parsley and oregano, but acidic flavors like lemon balm, lemongrass or something cool like lemon thyme are at the top of the list,” says Rumpler. He also recommends a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and flavored vinegars like apple cider vinegar. “Those flavors give you a punch of flavor without the salt.”
Chef Marcel St. Pierre, Steakhouse 55, Disneyland Hotel, Disneyland Resort: “Sorrel is my favorite substitution for salt, and one of my favorite perennial herbs,” says St. Pierre. “It adds a lightly sour taste with a little acidity to any dish.” He uses it at Steakhouse 55 to finish the fresh pasta tagliatelle. “It adds a surprising, refreshing lemony flavor, reducing the amount of salt needed to finish the dish.”
Executive Chef John State, Disneyland Resort: Cilantro is State’s favorite herb when there’s a need to cut salt. “Cilantro is bright and complements multiple cuisines, from Thai and Mexican to Indian and Middle Eastern.” It’s the acidity and fragrant aroma that are so appealing to the taste buds, says State. “Cilantro is rounded in flavor with lemony, floral, balanced acidity – and you can use it all, even the stem,” explains State.
Chef Dee Foundoukis, Le Cellier, Canada pavilion, Epcot World Showcase, Walt Disney World Resort: Foundoukis will give up her fleur de sel or truffle salt for a combination of fresh thyme and oregano. “That earthy feel-good adds so much flavor, it makes me forget about the salt – for a while,” says Foundoukis.
Chef Tim Keating, Flying Fish Cafe, Disney’s Boardwalk, Walt Disney World Resort: “That’s an easy one for us at Flying Fish,” says Keating. “We utilize classic French ‘fines herbes’ to amp up flavor and easily displace salt in salads, vinaigrettes, vegetable sautés and to crust our fish.” You can buy it dried, but their fresh, house-made mixture is a combination of half Italian flat-leaf parsley and half equal amounts of tarragon, chervil and chives, all finely chopped.
Chef Brian Piasecki, California Grill, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Walt Disney World Resort: “If I am making lighter foods like salads, flatbreads and appetizers, I like basil, cilantro, oregano, Italian flat parsley, onion sprouts and tops and even finely chopped radish tops (micro radish or wasabi),” says Piasecki. “These are great raw and delicate in flavor.” For cooked dishes, Piasecki goes for something heartier such as rosemary, thyme, and sage. “These hold up to the heat of cooking and are a bit stronger in flavor and infuse the food,” he explains.
Do you have a favorite herb to recommend when you’re cutting back on salt?