Friday, May 30, 2008

Kosher Salt-Pinched, not Shaken

One of the first things I teach my students is to make friends with kosher salt and to salt their food as they are cooking. Salt is such a critical ingredient for a good cook-it is really what separates okay food from mouth watering food.

I use kosher salt as my cooking salt across the board. I keep a salt cellar on my counter (you can use any small cup, ramekin, dish, old boot...ha ha!) and it's always within arms reach of my stove top or work surface. Kosher salt should never live in a salt shaker-it should be 'pinched' into your dishes, not shaken. It is pure salt with nothing added to it-no iodine and no additives to make it flow freely from a salt shaker. If you taste it side by side with table salt (you know, the kind with the little girl and the umbrella?) you will notice a dramatic difference. One thing you have to remember when using kosher salt-it is HALF as salty as table salt. The flakes are bigger (making it easier to pinch) so, by volume you are getting half as much kosher salt when you measure it. This means when you use a 'pinch of salt' you need to be generous. I would say my 'pinch' is about 1/4 tsp.

Salting your food while you cook it as opposed to after you cook it is something one learns in culinary school and it is when I had one of those 'ah ha' moments. I tasted soup I'd made with out salt, thinking I'd salt it afterwards like my mom always did (sorry mom!). It was fine-kind of flat but okay. The next time I did it I salted it as I cooked-while sweating the vegetables, after adding the broth, and again at the end. WOW! The difference was amazing-I could actually taste all the ingredients distinctly as opposed to just 'soup'. Salt brings out the natural flavors of an ingredient, be it sweet or savory, so leaving it out really doesn't do justice to the things you are adding to your recipes.

You will make better food if you use kosher salt and salt as you's just that simple.

Sea Salt, Fluer de Sel, Pink Salt, Smoked Salt ,Truffle Salt....stay tuned! I will add another post on the 'fancy' salts soon...


Steve S. said...

You ungrateful child, calling out your own mama like that...for shame! But thanks for the advice on kosher salt. I've read a couple of recipes recently that called for it. I ignored it, thinking it was it was just salt blessed by a rabbi. Flaky salt is cool, too, texture-wise. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Will you just move in with me and cook for my family and show me all of your tricks? This blog is great, thank you for helping those of us who love to cook but who have lost the desire because of one too many pots of mac-n-cheese.

Iona said...

This is great!

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