Friday, March 8, 2013

Let's Talk Salt


When a recipe calls for salt, there are dozens of choices these days.

When I grew up there were 2 kinds of salt.
Morton's Iodized ("when it rains it pours") in the blue container w/ the little girl and umbrella.


Or Diamond Kosher Salt. This was reserved for salting or "koshering" a chicken.

Now that I am a grownup I can make my own salt choices, and there are so many to choose from.

These days, salt is very fashionable.


I think the key to good cooking is salt. A pinch of salt goes a long way.

It is essential to most everything you cook. I don't mean pile it on, but a pinch of salt always brings out the flavors of a dish. Obviously, don't be heavy handed.

My personal favorite salt is Maldon (pronounced "Mal-din"...it is not French, but English).

I love the big flaky crystals that stick to the top of food. It's even wonderful on chocolate. This is not a cooking salt, but a "finishing" salt.

I use Morton's Iodized salt for salting pasta water and maybe a pinch in potato salad, but not really for cooking anymore.

Kosher salt is my go to salt for cooking these days.

It is not as salty in flavor as Iodized, and it makes roasted vegetables taste like candy. Sprinkling kosher salt on chicken and veggies before roasting brings out the flavors. I have also been using it in my baking lately.

Fleur de Sel from France is special and wonderful too.
Sea salt is created from evaporated sea water and should smell like the sea.
It is used like Maldon, as a finishing salt on salads, meats and anything that requires seasoning after it has been cooked. It is wetter than Maldon and many French companies harvest it, some brands can be quite pricey.
A good inexpensive everyday fine grain sea salt is La Baleine from France.

Nowadays, there are a million fancy salts that have seasonings already mixed in.
Thyme and lemon zest; rosemary & garlic; the combinations are endless.
I love truffle salt too, but at $25. for a small jar, it is an indulgence.
I even have a container of smoked salt sitting here, but I haven't figured out what to do with it yet!

Now that we've learned a bit about salt, you must have a container in which to house your salt, no?

My very favorite kitchen item that I could not live without is this beautiful French Berard wooden salt cellar.


The hinge swings open both ways for easy access, and I leave it on my counter so I always have salt at my disposable when cooking.

Remember: A little goes a long way.

:)

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17 comments:

Katie C. said...

I found out, much to my dismay, that not all kosher salt is created equal. I thought it was my lack of experience or heavy handed-ness until I found the kosher salt entry on Smitten Kitchen's blog. 1 teaspoon of Morton's Kosher salt does NOT equal 1 teaspoon of Diamond Kosher salt! So...when you read a recipe calling for kosher salt, you really have to know what kind the author was using or your food might be too salty. Who knew?

Stacey Snacks said...

Katie
True
Morton's kosher much saltier than diamond

Diamond is the original kosher salt and the only one I would use

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I didn't know there was a difference between Morton's and Diamond's kosher salt. Now I do. Like you, I use my old Morton's Iodized only for salting pasta water or baking cakes and cookies. My cupboard is filled with different salts too, including a wonderful purple salt made with wine that looks great sprinkled around a steak, and some beautiful pink Himalayan salt.

Anonymous said...

Try this recipe using smoked salt from a fabulous Nashville chef, Arnold Myint.

http://arnoldmyint.com/brussels-sprouts/

Anonymous said...

"The hinge swings open both ways for easy access." - that's what she said. Big THE OFFICE fan here. Cheap thrill to see your comment on how to pare broccoli vid today. And I'm still considering this salt cellar, Ms. Snacks, 'cause I'm plain CHEAP! It's a beauty, though...

Stacey Snacks said...

Anon,
Funny, that's my husband's OFFICE line......I said "we got 8" of snow today", and his reply was:
"that's what she said!".

:)

Jackie said...

Maldon salt is my favorite salt to use lately.
I always thought it was French!
Thanks for clearing that up!

Barry Martin said...

Excellent info Stacey...thanks
~ cb

Kadensgran said...

My favorite recipe to use smoked salt:

*Orzo with Smokey Tomato Vinaigrette - Great!

Great!! Made 1/2 recipe. Cut way down on the vinegar.

1 lb (2 dry pints) cherry tomatoes - Used 1
1 lb orzo pasta - Used 1/2 lb.
Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar - Cut recipe, Cut vinegar to 1/4 or 1/2 Tbs.
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs smoked salt, plus more for seasoning
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/3 cup grated Parmesan

1. Place the tomatoes in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the tomatoes are tender and the skins are charred in spots, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and place in a large serving bowl.

3. For the vinaigrette: Place the tomatoes, basil, vinegar, olive oil, honey, smoked salt, and pepper in a blender. Blend until smooth.

4. Pour the vinaigrette over the pasta and toss until coated. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Season with smoked salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

5. Cut recipe in half and cut vinegar to 1/4 or 1/2 Tbs

Servings: 6

Cooking Times
Preparation Time: 8 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes


Source
Source: Giada De Laurentiis

Kadensgran said...

My favorite recipe using smoked salt:

*Orzo with Smokey Tomato Vinaigrette - Great!

Great!! Made 1/2 recipe. Cut way down on the vinegar.

1 lb (2 dry pints) cherry tomatoes - Used 1
1 lb orzo pasta - Used 1/2 lb.
Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar - Cut recipe, Cut vinegar to 1/4 or 1/2 Tbs.
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs smoked salt, plus more for seasoning
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/3 cup grated Parmesan

1. Place the tomatoes in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the tomatoes are tender and the skins are charred in spots, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and place in a large serving bowl.

3. For the vinaigrette: Place the tomatoes, basil, vinegar, olive oil, honey, smoked salt, and pepper in a blender. Blend until smooth.

4. Pour the vinaigrette over the pasta and toss until coated. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Season with smoked salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

5. Cut recipe in half and cut vinegar to 1/4 or 1/2 Tbs

Servings: 6

Cooking Times
Preparation Time: 8 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Source: Giada De Laurentiis

cyclingrandma said...

Very interesting, helpful post. I too grew up with only Mortons and my parents think salt is the devil. Whenever I try to use (or even find) some at their house, I'm given the lecture on why salt is so bad for you, etc. I agree- kosher salt is divine. I have a ceramic salt cellar on the counter- perfect for easy access.

The Italian Dish said...

My favorite finishing salt is Ravida from Sicily. I don't understand people who are afraid of salt. If you don't eat processed foods, fast foods or junk food you don't need to worry about adding a little salt to your home cooking. Even a plain slice of cantaloupe becomes amazing with just a little sea salt.

Stacey Snacks said...

Elaine (Italian Dish),
I will seek out the Sicilian sea salt, has to be good!

ooooh, and on canteloupe! Genius!
Yes, salt is a must. No processed foods, that's the key.

Eileen said...

Have been meaning to purchase a box of Maldon salt and now after reading how much you like it, I'm going to get some.
When I was at Whole Foods this week they were serving organic grape tomatoes mixed with Burrata and Alaea Hawaiian salt. It was divine!!!

Dana said...

Have you been to The Meadow in the city? It's a salt shop that actually started in Portland, OR and the guy who owns it, Mark Bitterman, is incredibly knowledgeable about his topic. Worth a visit!

Proud Italian Cook said...

I agree with Elaine, I don't worry about cooking with salt I don't buy salty processed foods, so bring it on! I have a smoked salt sitting in my cabinet I got from Seattle, they told me to use it on fish.

Christine said...

Wonderfully informative post Stacey! Any thoughts on grey Celtic sea salt? That's what I've used for the last few years and really like it. Bought an OXO salt grinder with various size grind settings after my antiquated one finally broke. Again, completely agree with no processed foods, they're the worst thing for one's health.