Tag Archives: salt

Salt Taste Test

Last night was “Salt taste test” night in our household, which speaks more to our lack of social life than anything else…but I digress.

We had arranged to have several different types of salt, including Sel Gris, Korean Salt, Palm Island Red Gold, and my own personal favorite, Black Lava salt (It’s puuuuuurrty).

Slices of cucumbers were cut up and sprinkled with it with a type of salt. From there, results were tabulated, notes were compared, and conclusions were made. The two primary conclusions that I arrived at were:

1) Some of the salts did differ in taste…slightly. So slight, in fact, that a person would have to be looking for the difference to even notice it upon a slice of cucumber. If placed in a dish with stronger flavors, it’s unlikley that the difference would be noted at all.

2) Texture made a great deal of difference. Some had an enjoyable crunch, others felt light upon the tongue. Texture would also change via the method of its application, whether used for roasting, baking, sauce making or simply finishing a dish.

So, the conclusion I reached is as follows (and probably would not be a surprise too many professional chefs out there): The type of salt one purchases should primarily be determined by the “mouthfeel” one wishes to acheive with a dish. Of course this only works if you’re purchasing some variation of sodium chloride. Purchase potassium chloride, and you’re on your own.

Technorati Tags: Salt, food, Taste+Test


Salted Shrimp – v.1

This is Tara’s version of Salted Shrimp, one that I was only partially aware of. My own version, which will be posted at a later date, will demonstrate quite clearly our perspectives on food.

(HINT: She takes a far more healthy approach than I).

  • 1/2 lb of 12-16 shrimp (those are the medium sized ones)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes

De-head, de-vein and de-shell the shrimp.

In a medium stock pan, bring 1-2 cups of water (enough so the water is about 1/2 inch deep) to a boil. Lower to medium heat. Add shrimp and red chili pepper flakes. Boil until they get that beautiful orange/ pink color, flipping them after 3-5 minutes. Drain.

Sprinkle the juice, salt, and pepper (in that order) over the shrimp. Toss lightly.

Serves 2

Technorati Tags: Food, Recipes, Shrimp


Of Salt, Tabasco and Civil Wars

Here’s an interesting story of how salt was involved in the creation of the Tabasco brand Tabasco sauce, care of Salt:A World History

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Edmund McIlhenny was a Marylander who moved to New Orleans in 1841 at the ripe old age of 26. By the time he was 42, he owned 5 banks in the Crescent City, making him a relatively wealthy individual. This afforded him the opportunity to hob nob with local politicos and others within the power elite, include one Daniel Dudley Avery, a judge from up the road in Baton Rouge.

Now the good judge had two items that are intergral to this story. First, he had a daughter by the name of Mary Eliza. Mary Eliza must have gotten along famously with Mr. McIlhenny, as they were married to one another on June day in 1859. Edmund was 43 at the time, Mary Eliza was 21.

The second thing that the Judge Avery had in his possession was a sugar plantation located on Petit Anse, located some 140 miles west of New Orleans. With New Orleans being on the hit list of Union objectives during the Civil War, the Avery’s and McIlhenny’s decided it was best to stay away from the conflict and settle in at the plantation, hoping to ride out the war in relative peace.

Things were going as planned until early in May of 1862, when a slave hit solid salt whilst trying to deepen a brine well. Suddenly the families realized that they were sitting on both a valuable resource and a military target. Salt was in short supply in the South, and was near a vital commodity for both civilian and military applications. They decided to sell the salt to the Confederacy.

Soon the Union knew about the salt domes in the area, and made their presence known. This forced the families into Texas, away from their plantation. By April 17, 1863, the new salt works were destroyed.

By the end of the war, the Judge’s finances were intact, allowing him to purchase the rest Petit Anse that he didn’t own, where it was renamed Avery Island.

The McIlhenny’s did not make out so well. Having been paid in now useless Conderate bills, a great amount of their fortune had been lost. Edmund looked for a way to recreate his wealth. After meeting a man by the name of Gleason, who told McIlhenny about a small red pepper and the need for said peppers in the cuisine of the area. Being a quick study, McIlhenny returned to Avery Island to become a farmer and to create a regular source of the sauce for the locals.

Using the salt from the island to ferment and extract juices from the red peppers he had grown, he was able to mix those juices with white wine vinegar and create the Tabasco brand as we know it today.

Technorati Tags: Food, Salt, Food History, Tabasco , Tabasco Sauce


Baked Sea Bass in Herbed Salt Crust

This recipe was a great success in my opinion. One of the greater problems in baking fish is in ensuring that the fish does not dry out whilst baking in the oven. This recipe solves the dilema quite nicely with the crust preventing moisture from the fish from escaping, and instead using it to bake the fish thoroughly.

You’ll note that the fish was cooked in its entirity, from head to tail. This reminds me of the time Tara and I were eating out at a local Chinese restaurant where we were celebrating Chinese New Year.

A Gentleman was seated to our south, and had ordered some sort of fish dish. This initiated a series of events which included a member of the wait staff going to the front of the restaurant and picking out a fish from one of the several aquariums they had located in the lobby.

The fish was taken to the back where it was gutted, and then deep fried. It was brought out and placed in front of the man. He stared at it for about five minutes before calling on one of the wait staff.

“I can’t eat this”, he said. “I didn’t know it came with the head. I can’t eat it with a head”.

Me? I have no problem in cooking a whole fish. I’m wondering how much this problem affects the general populace of the United States.

  • 1 2 lb. sea bass (cleaned, leaving head and tail intact)
  • 4 tbl plus 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 slice Lemon
  • 1 slice onion
  • 3 1/2 cup Kosher salt, (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1 1/2 cup All-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Warm water plus additional if necessary

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Rinse sea bass under cold water and pat dry inside and out. Sprinkle cavity of bass with 2 sprigs of rosemary, along with a slice of onion and lemon, and pepper generously.

In a bowl, whisk together the kosher salt and flour along with 4 Tablespoons of rosemary. Stir in 1 cup warm water plus additional as necessary to form a paste.

Place the bass in an oiled baking pan. Coat top of bass completely with half of salt mixture, patting it on, and turn bass over. Coat other side in same manner, ensuring the fish is completely coated (although you can get away with not coating the tail).

Place bass in middle of oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Then crack salt crust with a sharp knife or hammer and remove top crust, discarding it. Place whole fish on a serving dish.

To serve, remove sections of the fish with a serving fork. If done correctly, the spine of the fish should nearly fall out and the fish head should also fall off with no problems.

DO NOT eat the crust, unless you have water handy.

Serves 4

Technorati Tags: Food, Recipes, Fish, Baked Fish


Types of Salt

Pickling (or Canning) Salt: A fine-grained salt used to make brines for pickles, sauerkraut. It it contains no additives, which would cloud the brine.

Kosher Salt: A coarse-grained salt that is usualy additive free (Morton brand has “yellow prussiate of soda” added as an anti-caking agent). Often found in the kitchen of commerical restaurants. The salt looks like flattened cubes. It’s quite dry and hard, and dissolves slowly.

Table salt: A fine-grained refined salt with additives that make it free-flowing, it is mainly used in cooking and as a table condiment. It will also often contain additives, including iodine (aka iodized salt). It dissolves quickly when exposed to low heat.

Sea Salt: Salt that comes from the sea. Used down through the ages and is the result of the evaporation of sea water — the more costly of the two processes. It comes in fine-grained or coarse-grained. The Majority of Sea salt found in the United States is imported. Presumably, sea salt will vary in flavor, depending on the sea from whence it came, and the other minerals found in aforementioned sea.

Rock Salt: Comes in large chunky crystals and is intended primarily for use in home ice cream churns. It’s typically gray in it’s coloring as it’s often unrefined. Because of it’s size, it must be put in a grinder if it is to be used in cooking.

Sel gris: Solar-evaporated salt from the northern Atlantic coast of France. It’s hard, moist and the salt crystals appear gray. It’s taste is reputed to be briny, sweet and delicate. It dissolves slowly when exposed to low heat.

Fleur de sel: Solar-evaporated salt also from the northern Atlantic coast of France This salt is a hard, slightly moist with white crystals. It’s also reputed to be briny, sweet and delicate in its taste. It dissolves slowly when exposed to low heat.

Hawaiian Alae: A pale-orange salt that tastes of iron.

Black Salt: Black salt is not always black, but rather can run between a pale violet to a dark purple-black in its coloring. It can be either a large, coarse grain or a fine powder, and it has a strong sulfuric aroma.


Salt tips and tricks

Some basic Salt hints and tips.

  • To control the amount of salt better, use a salt cellar (or salt pig) rather than a salt shaker.
  • Do not salt sauces until after they’ve been reduced. Salting before reduction will ensure a sauce with concentrated salt tastes.
  • A raw or chilled food product will require more salt than if the same product has been warmed or cooked. Temperature affects the “savoriness” of food, and lower temperatures mute those flavors.
  • For an oversalted dish, add 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of vinegar. Cook for a minute or two and then taste.
  • To deal with an oversalted soup or stew is to add a whole, peeled raw potato and allow to cook for 10-15 minutes. The potato will leech a fair amount of the salt from the dish. (Under review)
  • Another way to deal with an overly salt soup is to add either cream or pureed vegetables.
  • If you soak whole fish in salt water before descaling, the scales should come off easier.
  • By adding a pinch of salt, cream will whip better and egg whites will beat faster and higher(Under review).
  • Apples, pears and potatoes dropped in cold, lightly salted water as they are peeled will retain their color.
  • To set gelatin salads and desserts quickly, place over ice that has been sprinkled with salt.
  • Salting salads just before serving will keep them crisp.
  • Poaching eggs in salted water helps set the egg whites.
  • Salt added to water makes the water boil at a higher temperature, thus reducing cooking time (Under review).


Salt and Words

I love discovering the etymology of words. For me, it gives insight into a bit of history and how ideas were formed and evolved into things we take for granted today.

When we look at several words, we see that many of them “devolve” into having been influenced by salt.
Things

  • Halcyon – From the Latin halcyon, From the Greek halkyon, variant of alkyon “kingfisher,” from hals “sea, salt” + kyon “conceiving,”
  • Pastrami – This is possibly is Modern Greek pastono meaning “I salt,” from classical Greek pastos “sprinkled with salt, salted.” The spelling in English with the suffix -mi probably from influence of salami.
  • Salary – From the old French salarie, from the Latin salarium “salary, stipend,” originally “soldier’s allowance for the purchase of salt,” from neutral of the adjective salarius “pertaining to salt,”.
  • Salami – from the Italian word salami, plural of salame “spiced pork sausage,” from the Roman Latin salamen, taken from salare “to salt,” which comes from the Latin word sal “salt”
  • Salad – From the Old French salade from the Roman Latin salata, translated “salted,” short for herba salata “salted vegetables” from feminie Past participle of salare “to salt,” from the Latin sal “salt”.
  • Sauce – From the Old French sauce or sausse from noun use of the Latin salsa, plural of salsus “salted,” from pp. of Old Latin sallere “to salt,” from sal “salt”.
  • Sausage – From Old North French saussiche from Roman Latin salsica “sausage,” from salsicus “seasoned with salt,” from the Latin salsus “salted”.

Places

  • Halle, Germany
  • Hallein, Austria
  • Schwäbisch Hall, Germany
  • Hallstatt, Austria
  • Galicia, Spain
  • Galicia, Poland
  • Galicia, Ukraine
  • Halych, Poland
  • Salzburg, Austria

People

  • Gauls – Part of the Celtic tribes. The name Gauls comes from Latin Gallis, coming from the Greek hal. All of those places listed above? All had (or still have) saltworks that were initially run by the Gauls and other Celtic tribes.

This is far from comprehensive, but it certainly shows how much salt has influenced our world.

Technorati Tags: Food, Salt, Words, Etymology