Cooking with Salt
Salt, like so many other foods, has become trendy. A multitude of sea and earth salts are now available for professional chefs, food technologist and the home cook. Why use one salt in lieu of another when cooking? The simple answer is that some salts impact the flavor of food differently than others. Since all salts are mostly sodium chloride, how is this possible? The main reason is - texture. Texture is why a baked potato topped with butter and sour cream tastes differently than mashed potatoes made with the very same ingredients.
Some salts are light and flaky; others are coarse and crunchy. Some dissolve quickly, others more slowly. Sea salts typically have larger, more irregular grains, which when sprinkled on foods; add a crunchy texture. The grind of the sea salt determines its intensity. Large coarse crystal salt has more bite and impact than fine crystal salt.
A salt’s flavor and color also has an impact on food. Many sea and earth salts have a distinctive flavor. A good example is mined Black Salt from India, which is actually bright pink in color. As a result of this salts’ unique combination of trace minerals, it has a sulfurous mineral taste. This salts’ egg-like flavor has a tremendous impact on any food on which it is used.
The color of food is often overlooked. Many restaurateurs and food processors have learned, however, that we all eat with our eyes. Foods and condiments that are visually appealing are preferred to those that are not, even when they taste the same. Try adding black salts to white asparagus, cauliflower, or root vegetable purees. Red salts can add a rustic finish to rice pilafs, saffron risotto, or veal scaloppini. Colored salts such as Bolivian Rose Salt adds elegance to any meal, especially when presented in a crystal salt cellar or clear salt mill.
Salt Usage Guide
Bake with fine salt - Baking can be very exacting, and all recipe measurements, unless otherwise noted, are geared toward fine salt, not kosher or hand-harvested sea salt, which, because of their coarseness, take up much more volume in the measuring utensil.
Season while cooking with kosher salt - All good chefs’ season with kosher salt, as it’s much easier to see and feel how much you’re adding. If you season with kosher salt, you’re much less likely to ever over-salt.