Thursday, November 6, 2008

Salt


There are a lot of different herbs and spices that make life tasty and delicious. In my spice cupboard, there are lots of bottles and cans with mixes and blends that are used for specific things. There are blends like Sunshine, Cajun spice blend, Mesquite BBQ rub, Lemon Dill rub for fish, Montreal chicken and steak seasonings, lemon pepper and the like.

There are herbs, of course. Rosemary is my favorite - I use it a lot. Basil, thyme, sage, tarragon, chervil, parsley, marjoram (another fave) and coriander.

Spices like cinnamon, allspice, saffron (yikes on the cost of THAT!) are in there too.

And then there are the salts. There's regular old Morton's Iodized Salt (Dad still gets his for free), there's kosher salt, smoked salt, grey salt, sea salt, flaked salt, popcorn salt, gos sel, brining salt and pink salt in my cupboard. Yes, all these salts are there and yes, they all get used.

We can't physically live without salt, which is a good thing because it tastes so darn... salty and delicious.

Until I became an 'interested' chef, I never really gave a thought to salt. When I watched a program on salt, I became more intrigued and have been experimenting with all kinds of salts.

  • Black Salt, Kala Namak, Sanchal - Significant for its strong sulfur odor (India) this salt is a pearly pink gray. It is used in Indian cooking. I have not tried this salt, but i have seen it and smelled it. The smell sorta turned me off, but some might like it. Maybe I'm just not as adventurous as I think I am!

  • Grey salt, Celtic salt, Sel Gris – Harvested from the light film of salt which forms during the evaporation process. The gray or light purple color comes from the clay in the region of France where it is harvested. Collected using traditional Celtic hand methods. This is a really great, light tasting salt. Perfect on fish, chicken or other lighter meats.

  • Hawaiian sea salt – Has a distinctive pink hue from the Alaea added to it. The Alaea is volcanic red clay with a high content of iron oxide. This salt is used in many traditional Hawaiian dishes like Kahlua Pig and Hawaiian Jerky. I haven't tried this yet because it's kinda expensive.

  • Gos Sel, Gale Grosso – Is a larger grain salt which resists moisture and is intended to be ground. Uses include flavoring for soups and salt crusts on meats. I use this in my chicken soup because it really gives it a great flavor.

  • Flake salt – Shaped like snowflakes, the brine is made using the sun and wind for evaporation. Then the brine is slowly heated to create the flakes. I brine my turkeys and chicken in this. Yummo.

  • Fleur de Sel, Flower of Salt, Flor De Sal – Skimmed from the top of salt ponds early in the process of evaporation, this is considered a great condiment salt; also good on grilled meats, in salads and on vegetables. The flavor, like wines, varies depending on the region it is harvested from. Typically it is from France though some is produced in Portugal. An expensive salt, I've got a little jar of it and use it sparingly.

  • French Sea Salt – Processed less than American salt, retains more of the mineral content gained from the Atlantic seawater it is harvested from. This usually includes natural iodine. A coarse salt, this is good for salads, vegetables and grilled meats.

  • Italian Sea Salt, Sicilian Sea Salt, Sale Marino – Harvested from the lower Mediterranean sea by hand using traditional methods of natural evaporation, this salt is high in iodine, fluorine, magnesium and potassium. A delicate salt which is good on salads and in sauces.

  • Smoked Sea Salt - One other derivative of sea salt is a smoked sea salt. The salt is smoked over real wood fires to add the flavor to the crystals. These can be used in soups, salads, pasta and also in grilling foods like salmon. I bought some of this from Michael Chiraello's store Napa Style - expensive and worth every penny.
So I totally encourage you to step out of your iodized salt habit and give some of these others a try. You just might find a new taste that you can't live without.

4 comments:

Rini said...

Sometimes I put "a salt lick" on my birthday or Christmas list. Because I like salt that much. I have not, though, experimented with many different types of salt. Thanks for the briefing. The book "Salt: A World History" has been on my to-read-when-time-stands-still-or-I-quit-my-job list for awhile.

Mrs. SeƱora Cobbey said...

How does your Dad get free salt?

Just wonderin'....

Wendy said...

Here in the great plains wasteland where I can't even get Hungarian Paprika in a 100 mile radius, we have multiple kinds of salt too. Of course there's Mortons, then there's road salts and cattle salts....oh how I long for a return to culinary civilization.

Michelle said...

http://www.sustainablesourcing.com/ has a great selection of not only sea salt, but peppercorns and more!