Salt and Pepper, the two most basic spices. Here, you can see cracked black pepper and coarse sea salt used on filet mignon sautéing in butter. This is a simple, yet unbeatable and delicious combination. Sea salt, specifically coarse grind sea salt, brings out the maximum flavour of meats, the same is true for a coarse grind cracked pepper. Better yet would be fresh ground peppercorns from a pepper grinder.
There are basically four types of peppercorns: white, black, green, and red (or pink). Each has a distinct flavour. You can buy them individually, or as a combination, which is delicious when used in a grinder. Freshly grinding peppercorns brings out a more intense flavour than already ground cracked pepper, as the flavour is released the moment the peppercorn is ground. Green peppercorns are an exception as they are usually packaged in a jar with water. A properly done green peppercorn sauce is incredible, particularly on a filet mignon (see below).
Sea salt is harvested from evaporated salt water, as opposed to basic table salt, which is mined. It has two primary uses in cooking. The first is on meats (or fish), which, as mentioned above, brings out the best possible flavour. The second use is more as a “condiment”, meaning it’s added to the dish after it is cooked. Either way, the flavour is mouthwatering. I basically restrict the use of table salt to cooking pasta or other dishes using boiling water, as the value of using of sea salt in these dishes is lost.
These two simple basic spices, used properly, are the foundation of great cooking.