As a beginning cook, I used to hate that phrase. Should I start with a 1/4 teaspoon? A half? Can’t I get some guideline???
The truth is, this is so subjective.
For meat –
I sprinkle it evenly on the cut I have.
However 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper per lb would be a good start. That means if you’re doing 1 4-ounce portion, start with an 1/8 teaspoon per cut. That’s 1/2 an 1/8 tsp per side. A “pinch” is about 1/8 tsp, though that depends on your fingers. Many measuring spoon sets these days have 1/8 teaspoon. You may need more. This is just a good base. If you find you like it saltier or less salty, use more or less the next time until you find your comfort zone.
If you are adding another herb, it could be different.
Picture a pizza. Imagine the flecks of green herbs you see in the cheese. They’re evenly spaced, but there’s not too much space between them. That’s what you’re shooting for.
For vegetables –
Tomatoes can take up to 1 teaspoon of salt per pound. Mushrooms also need a lot of salt. Other vegetables may not need as much. It’s safe to start with 1/2 teaspoon salt per pound and adjust. Or a sprinkle of herbs, and adjust. Pepper also needs to be light depending on the vegetable. Tomatoes need a little. Potatoes can take more. Green beans don’t need it at all. I use a pepper grinder. I start with 3 – 5 grinds and adjust.
For water –
About 1 tablespoon per 4 quarts. Or 3/4 tsp per 4 cups.
Some blanching of vegetables should take more, like green beans. Taste it. Should taste like the sea.
To summarize –
Start low and build. Taste everything. Adjust. Taste again. With everything except meat, which you may or may not be able to test in the process, this will work.
You will gain a comfort level. It just takes practice.
It’s true what they say – you can always add, you can’t take away.