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.
Kosher Saltis 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 Saltcomes 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 Saltcan 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 Saltis 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.