The one thing that all sea salts will do is make your food taste better. The larger crunchier crystals tend to dissolve slower than table salt and provide little bursts of flavor that make food really sparkle. If you've never done a side-by-side taste test of salts, now is the time. Start with the sea salt, putting a few grains of it on your tongue. Let it dissolve some, then start noticing the taste of it. Have a sip or two of water and then do the same thing with a bit of table salt. The difference should be pretty obvious.
A Few Of My Favorites
Kosher Salt is a medium/coarse-grained salt that is available in almost any grocery store, and it's a bargain too (kosher salt may be from salt water or underground sources). I use it in just about everything I cook. Kept in a wide-mouthed jar or box next to the stove, it's easy to add a pinch whenever needed. If I think the texture might be an issue, I use...
Fine-Grained Sea Salt is just what it sounds like, finer-grained than other sea salts, making it the perfect choice for baking. Table salt crystals are cubical in shape and pack very closely together when measured. Sea salt crystals, on the other hand, whether fine or coarse-grained, are somewhat pyramidal. These more irregularly shaped crystals don't pack together as closely as table salt crystals and as a result, there is not as much salt in the same measured amount of each. In other words, a teaspoon of sea salt has less salt than a teaspoon of table salt. The larger the grain, the bigger the difference will be. I never bother with adjusting recipes though. I figure it's an easy way for me to cut down my salt intake. And I'm lazy.
Himalayan Pink Salt comes from a deposit deep in the Himalayan mountains. It is a large-grained or rock salt that can be used in soups and stews as is, or ground finer to use as a finishing salt. It has a low moisture content and can be used in a mill or grinder. Use it just as you would table salt.
Sel gris or gray salt comes from the coast of France. Its coarse grains make it ideal as a finishing salt, sprinkled on top of foods just before serving. It tastes like the ocean and because of its high moisture content, is best pinched with the fingers, as it won't go through a shaker or mill. The higher moisture content makes it ideal for blending with other herbs to make a flavored finishing salt. Grind a bit of fresh herbs and some of the salt briefly in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, then sprinkle some on your food for extra layers of flavor.
More good and salty info...
- Crisp Oatmeal Cookies at Lottie + Doof... This is the recipe from Cook's Illustrated that changed how I felt about oatmeal cookies forever.
- Chewy Molasses Chocolate Chip Cookies from Joy The Baker
- Salted Caramel Sauce from Food & Wine... over vanilla bean ice cream? Yes, please!
- Vinegar-Coarse Salt Chipotle Roasted Potatoes from foodnetwork.com
- Potatoes Roasted with Rosemary and Sea Salt Recipe at Epicurious.com
- Herb-Infused Sea Salts from right here!