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Do You Use Specialty Salts in the Kitchen?

7/1/2009 10:08:51 AM

Tags: salt, cooking, question to readers

Are you a fan of pink, grey or brown salt? What about red sea salt or smoked salts? When do you use specialty salts, and why? Got any recipes to share? Here are some of my favorite salts:

sea salts

Grey Sea Salt is unrefined, still a bit moist, usually hand-harvested, and contains trace minerals from the sea because it hasn't been processed. And you can really taste the minerals. It's a bit like drinking mineral water, and you'll love it! I always use far less grey sea salt than I would any other kind of salt, because its flavor is pretty potent. One of the best things I ever tasted was half of a baked Kobucha squash, dotted with grey sea salt and cultured butter, and eaten with a spoon! (A brand I really like is Celtic Sea Salt.)

* Gomasio is a mixture of sesame seeds and sea salt, and is a staple in Japanese kitchens. Frequently, I use black sesame seeds and also mix in dried garlic. You can buy gomasio ready-made, or mix your own to save a little money. This is my all-purpose seasoning blend; I use it in just about everything.

* Lemon Zest Salt is a blend I make myself with coarse sea salt and the zest of lemons (or sometimes other citrus fruits, especially grapefruit). The zest perfumes the whole blend, and the flavor is delicate and really just special. My favorite use for lemon salt is over grilled asparagus.

* Herbed Salt is another easy-to-make blend. Finely chop a small amount of herbs, blend with sea salt, and use on anything savory. Fresh rosemary salt is particularly intoxicating.

* Truffle Salt is fine sea salt mixed with ground black (or white) truffles. Even a small quantity of truffles in the blend will perfume the salt heavily. In fact, the aroma just about knocks me over (with ecstasy!) every time I open my jar. I use this precious salt blend over items that are otherwise largely unseasoned. Try it with roasted celery root, mashed potatoes, baked macaroni and cheese, or over a simple green salad. Again, you can mix your own or buy a ready-made product. Beware the cost of truffles, and remember it doesn't take much!

* Smoked Salt is usually pretty powerful stuff. It may be smoked with different kinds of wood or flavorings. The best one I've come across is Maine Sea Salt Company's Apple-Smoked Salt. It makes roasted new potatoes sing. And if you're lucky enough to live near that company, you could be treated with locally harvested salts with your CSA subscription.

* Cheese Salt is for making cheese. It melts easily and contains no iodine, which could kill the bacteria that you are trying to support in your cheeses. I use it in cheesemaking. It doesn't cost much more than table salt, so it lasts a long time. I get mine from New England Cheesemaking Supply.

* Rock Salt is used for making homemade ice cream (yea!). The briny solution surrounding your ice buckets draws heat away from the ice cream mixture, allowing it to freeze as you churn.

OK, now it's your turn! Please tell us about your favorite salts and how you use them in the comments section below.


Photo by Elena Moiseeva/Fotolia.com 


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Post a comment below.

 

familyfarmers
1/28/2010 5:59:19 PM
We love salish. It is an incredible alder smoked sea salt. It sells well in our market located on our small vegetable farm. Customers pair it with our vegetables, perfect for grilling zuchinni and fish. http://borodinomarket.blogspot.com

Catherine_22
9/15/2009 4:39:55 PM
So, yes, if it's kosher salt or pickling salt it's going to be plain salt, without iodine or other things. Pickling salt will be a finer grind, kosher salt tend to be a coarse grind. I never substitute them in baking bacuse most recipies are built around the standard table salt grine and the ground will make a big difference in the baked good. But sea salts should have more minerals and taste because of the additional bits that end up with the salt. They do add a different flavor profile. But, typically, I just use good old coarse ground kosher salt for most cooking apps and plain old regular ground table salt for baking. Honestly, "designer" salts are just too pricy for me to splurge for a sea salt beyond the bulk food bin and even that I usually save for seafood dishes where I really want that briny "sea" flavor to be highlighted.

Valerie_22
8/2/2009 8:59:28 PM
I sell Celtic Sea Salt and I rarely eat any other type of salt. Mr. Horse Hockey should try things before he claims to be an expert. Sodium is what you normally buy at the grocery store....yes, it is salt. Not good salt, nor good for you. Natural salts are good for you and since your body requires salt to survive, why not use the best? Use coarse smoked salt if you are making caramels. To die for.

Hilary Brown
7/13/2009 12:15:29 PM
I am a huge fan of Redmond's Real Salt http://www.realsalt.com/. Pure natural state without additives, chemicals or heat processing with 50 natural trace minerals that are essential to human health. We use it at Local Burger - it makes all your cooking taste great and it makes you feel good too!

Mary_78
7/9/2009 1:44:38 PM
My niece sent me a lovely box of 5 salts from California. I use them all the time for finishing seafood and vegetables. The Hawaiian red is delicious on salmon and scallops. The smoked Chardonnay works well with chicken and fish. I use the grey and the regular white sea salt in a lot of dishes that just need a hint of salt. Also I use the non flavored salts on home made breads and focaccia.

Cynthe
7/9/2009 1:04:23 AM
It must be "specialty salt" season! Our local gourmet grocery store has an amazing salt display of 20 kinds or so. Glad to find your article. Made a yummy 'Italian Improv'summer potato salad on our food blog: http://figswithbri.com/?p=164 using SMOKED SALT (very carefully) 'cause you're right - it's pungent! Added an very distinctive flavor to a colorful tasty salad that everyone ate with GUSTO! Am looking around for more ideas on how to use these interesting salts. Wish the 'science guys' wouldn't get into intellectual debates on what salt is. We already know. It's pedantic to read.

Bhaves
7/5/2009 8:35:49 AM
I especially love Kala Namak, black mineral salt from India. It has a high sulfur content and smells like eggs, so it really makes eggs taste even more eggy (if that's really a word).

Michael_82
7/3/2009 10:46:45 PM
UM, Peter Rader does not know what they were talking about. Yeah, salt is salt, but only if it's purified. Just like distilled water, tap water and mineral water. Mineral content can and does change the flavor of salt, just like it changes the taste of water. It's the minute details where the difference is MR Horse Hocky.

Pete Rader
7/3/2009 4:34:15 PM
HAVE A QUESTION FOR YOU, WHAT IS WHAT YOU ARE CALLING "SEA SALT", I DO UNDERSTAND SIMPLE CHEMISTERY AND PURE PLAIN SALT IS SALT NO MATTER HERE IT COMES FROM. ITS THE SAME IF IT COMES FROM A BRINE WELL WEST OF FREEDOM OKLAHOMA OR ANY OF THE OCEANS AND SEAS, NOW COME ON. ITS A MATTER OF HOW ITS PROCESSED IS THE ONLY DIFFERENCE, I'VE EVEN SEEN IT CALLED 'ORGANIC' HORSE HOCKY. PETE RADER

Deborah_39
7/3/2009 12:19:33 PM
I make and use Szechuan pepper salt. Szechuan peppers are toasted and ground with black pepper and some salt. It's DIVINE on so many things. BBQ'd chicken is the best with this salt, and so is corn on the cob -- and so many other things. You can find recipes all over the internet, just look for "Szechuan pepper salt".










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