Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How to Use Different Types of Salt

Nothing brings out the flavor of your food like salt. Knowing how (and when) to add it is the secret to becoming a well-seasoned cook.

salt to taste

Kosher Salt is unrefined, so its natural minerals come through, and it tends to have a milder salty zing than table salt. Use your fingers: "It's coarser, so pinching it allows you to tell exactly how much you're using, unlike pouring from a shaker," says Carla Hall, a Top Chef finalist who owns Alchemy Caterers in Washington, D.C. Because of density differences, if a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon table salt, use about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt.
Best for: all-purpose savory cooking. "It's my go-to ingredient," Hall says. Kosher salt also dissolves a bit more slowly than table salt, so wait a minute before tasting your dish.
Sea Salt comes in multiple varieties -- some flaky, some fine, some coarse. "Texture and flavor depend on the mineral content of the sea it's derived from," says Michael Psilakis, the chef/owner of Kefi in New York City. He suggests sampling a few to find one you love. Since saltiness varies, use less salt than the recipe calls for until you get used to it.
Best for: sprinkling over hot food just before serving. A chef favorite: Maldon sea salt, which has a mild flavor and a flaky consistency that melts right in. For flavoring pasta water or brining meats, coarse sea salts are ideal -- they have a stronger salty flavor than others.
Flavored Salt can be fun to experiment with, but it can also be pricey and hard to find. Making your own is easy and inexpensive -- plus you can customize the blend. Here's how: "Next time you have leftover vegetables, dry them out in the oven on low heat for a few hours," Hall says. "Then grind them in a spice grinder with some kosher salt."
Table Salt is the most refined of all salts because the natural minerals have been stripped away, giving it a sharper, straight-up salty taste. It's usually treated to prevent clumping, so you can store it for a while.
Best for: baking, where uniform grain size is needed for precise measuring.

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