Coarse salt crystals melt over a prime piece of Kobe beef, the nutty flavour of Black Hawaiian Sea Salt gives new potatoes a unique flavour and tingles the palate of discerning gourmets. Lustrous green season- ing salt in beautiful little wooden boxes, blue salt from Persia in hand-sewn small linen bags, or healing salt from Buddhist monks coming in a pretty tin box. The world of salt has become colourful and very soon found eager consumers in ambitious amateur chefs, gourmets and health-conscious people who are happy to pay up to 200 Euro for a kilogram of their favourite salt.
Since time immemorial, salt has always been the stuff of many storiesand sayings, and almost as colourful as those are the many varieties that are marketed today by resourceful traders and marketing spe- cialists – even the beauty and wellness industry has discovered the white gold as THE ingredient to their lifestyle products.
Hand-raked Fleur de Sel
Originally, Fleur de Sel comes from Brittany where it is raked by hand in salt ponds by the ‘paludiers’, as the French call their artisan salt harvest- ers. The equivalent to the French gourmet salt is Flor de Sal harvested along the coasts of Portugal, Spain, Mallorca and Ibiza, or Fiori di Sale, as the Italians call the product gathered in Sicily. The salt flower that is characteristic for Fleur de Sel only forms at the surface of the sea water pools on very hot days with hardly any wind. Typical for Fleur de Sel isits delicate, flower-like structure, which is the reason why dishes are onlyfinished off with this gourmet salt shortly before being served.
Blue Salt from Persia
Persian Blue Salt is harvested in salt mines in Iran. The blue colouring comes from the mineral sylvite. Otherwise the blue salt consists of 85% sodium chloride and 13% potassium, which is also responsible for the very salty aroma. Having a very coarse texture, blue salt is ideally suited for seasoning seafood and salads.
Aguni Sea Salt from Japan
Japan has been producing salt for almost as long as Europe. On Aguni Island off the shore of Okinawa, this salt has been harvested for centu- ries by boiling down sea salt. Gourmets value its high quality and like using it at the table to season salads or finish off red meat.
Bamboo salt incorporates the elements fire, water, air and soil. Buddhistmonks have been using it for hundreds of years as healing salt. Roastedat more than 1000 degrees in bamboo tubes plugged with clay, this salt has a high mineral content. It is mostly produced in Korea and goes verywell with Asian dishes but also raw vegetables and salads.
False promise, dubious miracle cure or gourmet salt? There are many diverging opinions about Himalayan salt. Unlike you might presume from the name, Himalayan salt is not produced in the Himalayas or in Tibet. In those areas there are no salt mines. Himalayan salt only comes from Pakistan. Often marketed under all sorts of healing promises, Himalayan salt is not hand-harvested, as frequently claimed in advertisements. Instead, it is blasted from the mountain like normal rock salt. Also the claimed effect on the human body could never be proven scientifically. Like normal table salt, Himalayan salt consists of 97% so- dium chloride and has no specific minerals to speak of.
Already the Vikings used to roast sea salt over wood fires. Depending on the region, smokedsalt is produced using hickory, beech or juniperwood. Americans like using smoked salt for barbecues, but it also goes very well with ve- getarian dishes.
Also known as Lava or Hawaiian Salt, it is pro- duced on Molokai Island. The salt obtained from filtered sea water is refined by adding activated carbon, which also gives it its typical black colouring. This salt is always slightly moist and should be ground in the mortar. Itgoes very well with seafood such as grilled fishand tropical fruit salads.
Green salt is popular especially in Asian cui- sine. It is produced by adding dried bamboo leaves to sea salt.