Here in the People’s Republic of Food, salt is frowned upon. For a while, the Gastronomic Gestapo enforced its less-salt policy by moving the salt shaker to the other side of the table if I reached for it, but that doesn’t work on college students. In recent days, the regime have moved from autocracy to shame-based enforcement: exclamations of dismay when someone salts their food, glares, that sort of thing. When I pull a container of miso out of the fridge, or get the soy sauce from the
cabinet, I am inevitably reminded that it contains sodium.
This, while irritating, is not, of course, wholly unfounded. It’s even irritating enough to drive me to react, not by argument, but by surreptitiously toning down the salting. If the Gastronomic Gestapo ever noticed I would die of shame.
The best way to do this, I find, is hot sauce. There’s that old standby, sriracha, but I’ve never liked the vinegary flavour. Sambal oelek is a good choice for other vinegar-haters: it’s pretty much just coarsely ground red chilies with minimal preservatives. I put a tablespoon or three in everything from lentil soup to noodles. My father says he gets capsaicin burns just watching. Mae Ploy is good for those who like something more sweet than spicy, but some might not want the sugar. It’s excellent on potstickers of every variety and makes a good chicken or pork marinade for lazy people. You could even put a jar of chili or curry powder on the table. It’s good for salads, rice, or anything else that you would otherwise be inclined to salt.
It also puts you a step ahead in the Sampling Wars. I’m something of a culinary masochist, so my hot sauce habit has the added advantage of rendering my food unpalatable to my family, particularly my father, who is a born plate raider.