Why Is Restaurant Foods So Salty? (4 Surprising Reasons)


When it comes to restaurants and the chef’s food, we all have been to various restaurants, and one thing in common is that the food is always equipped with much salt. Why in that?

In this article, I will teach you why chefs use so much salt in restaurants, what some foods are high in sodium, and vice versa. But first, why does restaurant food has so much salt?

Generally, restaurant food salty because it enhances to taste of ingredients; therefore, the food will taste better. Also, salt is used to evaporate water content for ingredients such as mushrooms and other ingredients. Finally, restaurants can use low-quality meat by overseasoning the ingredients.

As we can see, there are more than one reasons why restaurant food can be so salty (Why Don’t Restaurants Use Metal Straws?) (Why Don’t Restaurants Use Metal Straws?). In fact, there are 4 main reasons why that is. Now, I need to explain each of these aspects more in-depth if you want to fully understand why a meal can be super salty in a restaurant. Also, when you know these reasons, you can quite easily guess why that specific dish is so salty. So, let’s take a look at the reasons.

1. Taste

So the first reason why restaurant food is salty is for the taste reasons. There is a fine line in enhancing the flavors of the ingredients and the pure taste of salt, which can go either way, even with professional chefs sometimes. Restaurant food can be so salty for your tastebuds that you can be more sensitive to the salt than chefs, which is usually the case.

In fact, many chefs have lost a part of their taste because so many chefs smoke, because they use so much salt or are used to the tastes when compared to the customer. These reasons can be why the food is so salty.

2. Water evaporation

Another reason for heavy salt usage in a dish is to draw out water content from the ingredients more efficiently. When you are frying vegetables or meat, adding salt will help draw out the water content from them, leading to more crispy and pleasant outcomes.

When a chef does this, it can be easy to overseason food because the dish will likely be added with more ingredients that need to be seasoned as well; therefore, salt can be added many times, which increases the risk of oversalting.

3. Concealing low-quality ingredients

This is a popular practice in many low-end restaurants. When a restaurant purchases cheap meats, it would be more obvious for the customers when it is lightly seasoned. Therefore some restaurants try to conceal the fact that the meat isn’t of high quality, that’s why it can be really salty or overseasoned with other spices.

4. Long display time

This is something that all new chefs don’t understand at first, myself included. When I had my first job in a lunch buffet restaurant, I was in charge of soups for the week. The seasoning and salt seemed well balanced in the preparation phase, but when the soup is on display for a couple of hours, the water will slowly evaporate from the soup, which leaves thicker soup with far enhanced tastes. This resulted in over salty soup, even when it was well balanced right after preparation.

Therefore if you took food from a buffet when lunchtime has been going on for some time now, the chances are that it is too salty because of this effect.

What foods are high in sodium

There are many foods in the world, and some of them have far more sodium than others. Below I have made a list of some popular foods with high sodium content.

  • Bacon
  • Smoked and canned meats
  • Pizza and bread
  • Salted peanuts
  • Canned vegetables such as beans
  • Shrimps
  • Soups
  • Cheeses, especially processed and cottage cheese.
  • Sandwiches
  • Pickles

What foods are low in sodium

As it is in high sodium foods, so it is low as well. Below you can find some popular ingredients and food that doesn’t contain a lot of sodium.

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Berries
  • Grains
  • Beans
  • Quinoa
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Potatoes
  • Eggs
  • Lean meats

What is the recommended sodium amount

According to Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommended sodium amount is no more than 2,300mg per day. This is equal to approximately 1 teaspoon of salt. However, most Americans eat around 3,400mg of sodium per day, which is considerably more than the recommended amount.

If you were to eat 5 meals per day, each meal should contain 460mg of sodium and no more. If you would eat 3 meals a day, then each meal could have 766mg of sodium if you were to follow the guidelines strictly. The reality is that most restaurant meals contain far more sodium than one meal should, which makes it difficult to contain your sodium intake for the rest of the day.

Conclusion

Next time you are dining in a restaurant and notice that the food is a bit too salty, remember the 4 reasons above and think about it, what reason is the most likely in this case. In high-end restaurants, you rarely notice too salty food because they focus on giving the unique characteristics and tastes of the ingredients in your mouth, not pure salt.

I hope you found this article useful and you now better understand why some food is so salty in restaurants.

Omar Abdalla

I’m the owner of JRS and while I love working in a busy restaurant, I also enjoy more peaceful and relaxed cookouts at home.

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