Not too long ago, I stubbornly refused to believe that salt was salt. Flaked, colored, or from exotic regions were nothing but a marketing gimmick. Sodium is the same the world over….is it not? Rock salt, sea salt, road salt….well you get the idea. A mineral is a mineral….or is it?
I had an unused gift card for Williams-Sonoma and decided to give their sea salt sampler a try. What I discovered from testing these out is that each one is shaped by its origin determining flavor and foods they successfully enhance:
- Haleakala red sea salt from Hawaii has a slightly nutty flavor and briny sweetness. Traditionally Hawaiians use this Alaea salt in ceremonies to cleanse, purify, and bless tools and canoes along with healing rituals for medicinal purposes. The region’s red alaea clay produces its distinct color. Since it is traditionally used in native Hawaiian dishes like Kalua Pig, you can’t go wrong using this salt with roasted and grilled meats.
- Known as Soul of the Sea, Kilauea Hawaiian black sea salt consists of mineral rich Molakai sea salt and activated charcoal, a proven anti-toxin and digestive aid. Its subtle smoky, sweet & salty flavor make it an excellent companion with fish and sweet tropical fruits. Also perfect for embellishing vegetables, roasts, and barbecued meats.
- Australian pink salt flakes from Australia’s Murray River have a light & delicate peach color. The river’s water source originates in the snowy Australian Alps. A combination of low rainfall and high evaporation in the region yield salty groundwater as well which produces natural brines. Salt tolerant algae is able to thrive in this environment secreting a red pigment called Carotene. The resulting salt flakes are prized for their tendency to melt quickly and evenly making them ideal for baking and coating roasts as a finishing salt.
- Mild white Cyprus flakes are hand harvested from the Mediterranean Sea. These pyramid -shaped crystals are mild making them work well with delicate hors d’oeuvres, salads, and seafood.
photo courtesy of Steve Mirsky