In a previous post I mentioned that Sea Salt and Kosher Salt are pantry essentials for me. Well, I’m going to confess – I am a bit of an addict. I’ve been collecting salt since my very first trip to Paris, in 1998. I made a pilgrimage to the great cathedral of fine food, Fauchon, and I was completely blown away by the amazing food and delicacies on display. On a budget, and wanting to choose something portable, I bought my first tin of French sea salt. It came with a linen bag inside, and a small wooden scoop, and the salt was in big snow-flake-style bits. Not the knobby chunks, but more like mica – fluffy layers of salt. I was smitten.
Later in my cooking education, I learned how to brine a turkey in cold water and kosher salt. The salt crystals travel with the water into the meat of the turkey (remember learning about osmosis in high school chemistry? Here’s your practical application) making it juicy and moist, and leading my mother to give me the best compliment ever: “Your turkey is better than your grandmother’s.” I typically use kosher salt as my table salt – it sits in a little dish from Italy.
I’ve purchased fine sea salt in France, and in Vancouver’s Granville Island Market I found a little shop called Edible Canada that had delicious little flavored salts featuring ingredients native to the area. I used up the Bacon Salt first, since it seemed perfect for my morning eggs. The Haida Gwai salt was flavored with mushrooms and was amazing on pasta, risotto, and omelettes. Their Commercial Drive salt was perfect for Italian food, featuring sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, garlic and basil. I was so depressed to run out of those salts, especially when I realized that the cost to ship more from Canada was so high – I guess I’ll just have to go back to Vancouver!
I’ve got Chardonnay-smoked Sea Salt that never seems to really fit any purpose, but might be nice on a smoked salmon. I’ve got Hawaiian black salt that I haven’t even opened yet. All in all, I’ve found that flavored salts are a great souvenir, a thoughtful gift, and something that I really can’t have too many of – the range of flavors and varieties is staggering. I never pick up a salt shaker at a restaurant any more – I wish they all served sea salt. I use less because the flavor packs so much greater a punch. In fact, try big flakes of sea salt on top of a home-made chocolate cookie – you’ll be stunned at the incredible burst of salt, and how it makes the sweetness of the cookie that much more amazing. And if you want the best possible sweet/salty mix? Make some Sea Salt Caramel from scratch. You’ll never go back.