How to Make Salt Even Better
Because you're not a monster
I've taken a very public stance about the use of salt in food which is that people who don't salt their food are monsters. Obviously there are people for whom salt is a medical concern and they along with my empathy, they have more pressing things to worry about than my rude scorn. But most people know that salt is a non-negotiable. And don't mistake salt-y for salt-ed. Salty is a preference (and occasionally a mistake), but salt itself is a skeleton key to unlock and enhance flavors. And the salt itself can be even better than it already is—just like sugar, butter, and nuts.
Wacky, right? But yes! Now is the time to begin living your saltiest life. Here's how.
Table salt is fine. Kosher salt is better. A variety of salts is ideal. You don't have to get all fetishy with the Maldon, pink Himalayan and black lava salts at every eating opportunity, but it's great to have a small arsenal on hand if you can. Kosher is just fine for most cooking, but salts of various texture and size can add not just a flavor, but a textural element to, say, a salad, the top of a baked good, or sprinkled atop vegetables or meat. Buy tiny amounts of a few different kinds (no need to spring for the massive pink block and grater just yet) and see what brings you the most joy.
It's not just shapes, colors, and sizes—it's origin, too. Like wine, coffee, and chocolate, salt can taste distinctly of a place and bring an extra layer of flavor to a dish. This isn't about being all Mr Fancypants "Behold My Imported Bolivian Mountain Salt" Guy but rather getting to the core of a region's flavors. If you're making a Moroccan dish and care to go all out, get some Moroccan salt. Same with Mexican, French, North African, etc. There are rivers, lakes, oceans, and bodies of water the world over, and it stands to reason that they'd taste different due to geographic differences. Have a little adventure.
Next time you're busting out the smoker to make a brisket or a shoulder or whatever else is warming your coals this week, pop a foil tray of salt in there, and shake it around whenever you go in there to revive the fire. After a few hours, you'll end up with a deeply useful seasoning that'll bring a campfire note to anything it touches—especially the rim of a margarita glass.
This one is beyond easy. Just store your salt in a tightly-lidded jar with dried citrus peels, woody herbs, hard or cracked spices, chile pods, dried flower petals, or whatever else strikes your fancy. Shake it up every once in a while, and you've got a lovely flavored salt to sprinkle wherever you fancy. Wanna get wacky with wine or spirits? Here you go. You can also make bacon salt or jalapeno salt.
Salt is perfect on its own, but it's even happier when it's paired with other seasonings. Having a blend of sugar, salt, and citrus peels on hand to deploy as desired is a power move, as is having your own custom mix—like flaky Maldon mixed with chunky sea salt and a little bit of smoked salt. Toss some cracked Szechuan peppercorns in there if you'd care to get kooky (and slightly numb). Once you find your signature salt steez, jar that up, come up with a clever name, and give it out for the holidays. So dang salty.