Winter Citrus Spices Up the Salt
Salt is an indispensable flavor enhancer, and boy-oh-boy do we Americans love our salt. Some say the difference between a home cook and a restaurant chef is the chef’s fearlessness in adding salt to dishes. Yet we hear on the news everyday that too much salt is bad for us.
We also love “crunch.” Unfortunately, most crunchy foods fall into the salty snack food category and we are constantly warned against those, too.
Yes, if your diet is heavy on processed foods and snacks, salt can quickly become your enemy. But the right kind of salt, and crunch, goes a long way, so why not skip the junk and add some salty, crunchy goodness to your delicious, healthy foods instead?
Salt isn’t inherently evil, of course. Some types are downright heavenly. Take Pink Himalayan salt, said to have been created during the Jurassic era and thought by many to have exceptional healing properties. France, Spain and Sicily, among others, vie for the honor of producing the favorite sea salt of top chefs. From Australia comes the delicious Murray River salt. In our area, a wonderful salt is produced by evaporating Pacific waters collected off the Sonoma Coast. Some salts have geometric pyramid flake crystals that look like delicate little gems. And then there is the queen of salts, fleur de sel, with its wonderful crunch and briny, fresh flavor.
These salts all have quite distinctive flavors, and a salt tasting is a fun thing to do with your friends and family. You’ll need just a small amount of any salts that seem interesting to you, and be sure to include regular iodized “table” salt and kosher salt to provide a contrast. Serve a bit of plain bread and lots of water alongside your tasting to cleanse the palate between salts. Ask each participant to describe the flavor of each salt in detail—does it taste “earthy” or “floral,” for instance. Get a conversation going about what foods each salt would most enhance. For example, sea salt is generally minerally, and the flavor works great with seafood.
Then, have fun creating your own custom-made salt blends! Follow the easy and quick recipes below, or make up your own, and you will have unique homemade gifts in time for the holidays—these are gifts that keep on giving! Both recipes do require an overnight step, so make sure you read the entire recipe before you get started.