A Guide to Gourmet Salts
If you follow the top cooking gurus on the internet, you’ve probably sensed a shift in the standard repertoire of spice cabinets. No, I’m not talking about white people’s bizarre obsession with turmeric circa 2016 or Trader Joe’s ubiquitous bagel seasoning. I’m talking about salt, or to be more precise, gourmet salt. It’s no secret that interest in fancy salts is on the rise. Himalayan Pink Salt quickly became a millennial pantry stable in the mid-2010s, and in 2018, Samin Nosrat’s Netflix show Acid Fatty Salt Heat introduced English-speaking audiences to the importance and variety of salt in Japanese cuisine. Intelligence of Mordor suggests that the demand for gourmet salt will only increase over the next few years.
For those who haven’t experimented with a wide range of different types of salt, buying anything other than regular old table salt may seem like a waste of money. But just as you can use different types of flour from recipe to recipe, different types of salt can produce varying flavors and textures in your food. The shape, size and mineral content of a salt can all make a significant difference in a finished dish. Let’s take a look at some of the best gourmet salts and what you should use them for.
If there is salt that has acquired cult status, it must be Maldon sea salt. Maldon hails from the Blackwater Estuary in Maldon, England, and catering professionals like Ina Garden and Ferran Adrià can’t get enough of it. But what makes it so special? It turns out that salt, like the grapes used to make wine, takes on different taste characteristics depending on where it’s harvested. Maldon salt is known for its light and clean flavor compared to other salts. The salt flakes are also pyramid-shaped, which Maldon says allows them to “unleash their saltiness with gentle precision.” This makes this strain a fantastic finishing salt. Those who want to foray into the world of fancy salt would do well to start with Maldon.
The go-to salt brand for chefs like Samin Nosrat and Alison Roman, Diamond Crystal is also an excellent gateway to the gastronomic world of salt. However, you don’t need to be a professional chef to use this material. In fact, it’s so popular because you’re much less likely to over-salt a dish when using Diamond Crystal, so it’s perfect for home cooks who never measure anything. The dense little grains of salt you get from a brand like Morton’s are super, super salty. But because of the way the diamond crystal is harvested, you get larger, hollow flakes that don’t have as intense a salinity. They dissolve faster and adhere much more easily to your food. Plus, many recipes specifically call for Diamond Crystal Salt, so it’s a safe bet if you’re in the kitchen a lot.
All bakers may wish to donate La Baleine Fine Sea Salt A try. It is produced in the Camargue, France, an area renowned for its salt production for centuries. While most of the salts you’ll find on the market are industrially produced, that’s not what you get with La Baleine. On the contrary, this sea salt occurs naturally due to the wind and sun at this particular location in France. While this sea salt is versatile and can be used for just about anything, it’s especially popular in the baking world due to its consistency and light weight, which makes it easy to bend into pans. pasta.
Finishing salts can be as clean and pure as Maldon, or they can be combined with other ingredients and infused with other flavors to create something special that will do more than just enhance the flavors that are already on your plate. . Enter the Infused Sea Salts from Jacobsen Salt Co.. While it’s unlikely that a cookbook author will call for these specific salts in a recipe, for true salt lovers, they make a fun addition to your spice rack. From the classic infused black garlic salt to the clever but less common lemon peel salt, these lovely flaky selections add an extra splash of flavor to whatever you make. Just keep in mind that this product is not ideal as a replacement for regular salt in recipes.
You didn’t think I would talk about gourmet salts without mentioning the famous Himalayan pink salt, did you? Many brands sell pink Himalayan salt, and these days you can find it on grocery store shelves all over the place. It seems the main reason for its skyrocketing popularity is mostly down to somewhat dubious health claims – there’s actually little evidence that Himalayan pink salt is better for you than any other type of salt. Even without the health benefits, this type of salt is saltier than your typical Morton’s container, which means you can use less. Plus, it has a slightly floral flavor, which can add an extra layer of complexity to some dishes. But hey, if you just want to buy it because it’s pretty, go for it.