Let’s talk about salt bay-bee!

Let’s talk about you and me.
Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be.
Let’s talk abooooout salt.

I have this tendency to horde salt.  I know, it’s strange.  But there are so many interesting textures to experience!  I honestly don’t think there’s much of a detectable flavor difference between different salts, except perhaps those that have been smoked or have significant mineral content, like perhaps the Hawaiian black salt (which I do not have). The main reason to get into fancy salts is their really neat texture.

comparing fancy salts

comparing fancy salts

In my everyday cooking, I generally use Kosher salt(bottom in photo, below).  Kosher salt is called that not because it’s kosher, but because it’s used in the process of Koshering meat, that is, drawing all of the blood out via salt.  Kosher salt is used because of its flat grain structure.  It’s like very fine snow.  I find it easier to grab by hand than table salt, but it’s similarly inexpensive to standard iodized table salt. I keep it in a small ramekin next to the stove so that i can easily salt whatever I’m cooking.  It can be noted however, that Diamond Crystal kosher salt (vs Morton) is half as dense as standard iodized table salt.  And for that reason, I keep table salt around for baking recipes, just to be sure that I get the correct measurements.

Iodized salt and kosher salt

Iodized salt is the salt that you’ll find in salt shakers everywhere.  It works fine.  It’s a little difficult to season with by hand due to its density, but it works great for baking, and flows nicely from salt shakers due to the non-sodium mineral additives that prevent caking.

The salts above are generally best suited for use during cooking.  The salts below are expensive and would be wasted if they were used IN cooking, as they’d dissolve and you’d lose their great texture.

Fleur de sel/sel gris are both harvested from the same salt flats in France.  They have a similar appearance, however in my experience, the crystal size is a bit more consistent in the sel gris.  Sel gris is also a bit more grey than the fleur de sel, as it is apparently harvested a bit deeper than the fleur de sel. They are both “wet” salts, in that they’re not completely dry, and they have a tendency to stick together.  They also have cubic grains, similar to iodized table salt, but larger and more variable.  These salts are great for finishing something that you want big crunchy crystals in, like a caramel or burger.

fleur de sel and bali pyramid salt

Bali Pyramid Salt is my favorite.  It is so strange and beautiful.  It consists of perfectly hollow little pyramids.  You get big crystals of salt, but they crunch easily in between your teeth.  It’s a “dry” salt that goes nicely on something like risotto or a steak.

grains of bali pyramid salt

murray river pink salt

This is Murray River Pink Flake salt.  It’s from Australia.  I have a feeling that there’s a similar mineral composition to the Himalayan pink salt, however it doesn’t have huge hard grains to try to bite through.  They’re just big flat flakes.  The flakes are very thin, however, so they melt easily on wet items.  I like to use the pink flake salt on dryish or very delicate items, like maybe polenta or chicken piccata.

alderwood smoked sea salt

The alderwood smoked sea salt is my newest acquisition. It has a much coarser grain size than I’d like, but it should be great to use on things that go well with a slightly smoky flavor.  I added it to some Mexican braised beef, and when I opened up the container, I got a hit of smoke, so it seems to be pretty potent stuff.
Time will tell if it ends up being something that I actually use with any regularity.

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