You Need Better Salt

April 6, 2009 at 12:50 pm | Posted in Cooking, Food, Spice | Leave a comment
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If you are looking for a way to take your dishes to the next level of culinary bliss, you should try rethinking your spice rack. Never mind the dozens of bottles of rare spices you have culled from the gourmet shops, nor the fresh herbs you have sitting in a jar of water in the fridge. What you need are some finishing salts.

If you have been striving to attain gourmet perfection in your recipes, this is the next logical step you need to take. I assume you have table salt, kosher salt and even a nice little bottle of coarse sea salt. Those are great to cook with, or place on the table to sprinkle on your home fries, but they fall flat when it’s time to present that perfectly grilled salmon, or dress up that awesome homegrown heirloom tomato.

These items need to be shown respect, and a great way to do that is with a wonderful finishing salt. Maybe your local market will have a few from you to select from nowadays. Whole Foods should definitely carry 3 or 4. Seek out some nice smoked salt, which will pair very nicely with fish – especially if its cedar smoked or alder smoked. For those tomatoes I mentioned, you may want to explore the volcanic salts which will offer up an enticing minerally taste that you just can’t get from any other source.

I’m not going to get into the flavor profiles of each salt here, but a quick jaunt over to saltworks will prove enlightening if you have never explored the realms of salts from different parts of the world. You can start with a few select salts from your local market, or spend a bunch of cash and get a display case of 20 so that you can really dive into the world of gourmet salts. Either way you will be embarking on a great new quest as you learn that sea salt is not just sea salt. It’s a product of which sea it comes from, and how it is processed. Mined salt is the same way. Salt is like wine, in that it contains characteristics of the region of origin.  The world is a big place, and you can get salt from so many different locales!

So, on your next spice outing, skip the prepackaged “flavor trend of the week” and try to find a nice black salt, a pink salt and a sea salt that tells you where it’s from. Take those home and taste them against the salts in your pantry now on a nice tomato, or a slice of artisan bread dipped in EVOO. Then, come back and tell me how your palate will never be the same since you’ve discovered the wonderful world of gourmet salt.

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