A natural way to enhance flavors and add an element of fun to food, salt has evolved from plain old table salt into a place of evolution and experimentation for foodies everywhere.
Ben Jacobsen of Jacobsen Salt Co., notes that there are lots of different types of salt, from kosher and sea salt to infused salts, available on the market today. However, not all of them are created equally and not all of them have a one-sized-fits-all usage, he says.
Jacobsen says Kosher salt is primarily used for seasoning while cooking, brining, baking, boiling water for pasta — adding salinity where texture isn’t necessarily important. For example, he says, scrambling eggs.
“As you’re making scrambled eggs, try not adding any salt while you’re cooking. Instead, add a little sprinkle of salt to finish the dish. This will provide a nice textural contrast,” he says, noting that finishing salt is the best option here.
Best practices for using Kosher salt include salting pasta water, mashed potatoes, butternut squash soup and for baking bread. “Kosher salt, brightens dishes and makes flavors come alive,” he says.
One of the best feelings is taking a bite of a freshly grilled steak and being able to both taste and feel the salt. You can thank finishing salt for this, Jacobsen says.
“Finishing salt is a relatively new thing in the U.S. It’s been used around the world for decades, but for most Americans, it’s new to our pantry. Use finishing salt after your cooking is mostly done, when you’ve put your food on a plate,” he explains.
Finishing salt brightens and add texture and complexity, he says, and can be used to finish a steak; sprinkle over top of roasted vegetables with olive oil; or even sprinkle on top of a couple of scoops of your favorite ice cream.
Truffle salt, smoked salt, wine-infused salt, herb-infused salt. There are so many options out there for salts with imparted flavors, it can get a little tricky about how and when to use them. Jacobsen, though, says that they can be used to both season and finish food.
“Use these as a go-between with Kosher and flake. Oftentimes, I’ll use our seasoning salts to quickly pickle or sweat out cabbage, cucumbers, or zucchini to expunge water and get more flavor into the vegetable. The infused seasoning salt is also great to use to season a meat before cooking,” he says.
But, with so many types of infused salts on the market these days, Jacobsen says that trying different types is one of the best ways to learn which ones you love and how you get the most bang for your buck, flavor wise.
“It doesn’t have to be fancy. Try out which flavor combinations are your favorite with each bite. Truffle salt with scrambled eggs, lemon zest salt on a tuna Nicoise salad, and black garlic salt on top of spaghetti and meatballs,” he suggested.
Adds Jacobsen, “Experiment, because it’s just food and it’s meant to be enjoyed. There is not right or wrong way to use great salt. Just do it, and you will be forever changed in appreciating what good salt can do for food, and for your palate.”