The Best Salt for Cooking Explained by a Chef
Salt comes in many forms, making it sometimes difficult to choose the right one for your next meal. This short guide describes the various salts and explains how best to use them.
Table salt is your everyday white granular salt found in most kitchens. It is most commonly mined from salt mines and then refined to remove other minerals until it is pure or close to pure sodium chloride.
Table salt is often referred to as iodized salt, which refers to the fact that the manufacturer has added iodine. This practice began in the early twentieth century through a government incentive to reduce the incidence of thyroid problems such as goiter, which is an enlargement of the thyroid gland caused by an iodine deficiency.
What’s the taste of table salt?
Table salt tastes slightly metallic, uninteresting and can easily become overpowering.
Rock salt is coarse and is usually mined from ancient salt deposits left behind when water evaporates.
Rock salt is much less refined than everyday table salt and contains more minerals and often more impurities. It is Rock salt is good for cooking and best to use in a salt grinder.
Rock salt is good to use in blanching water – adding salt to water increases its boiling temperature and thus decreases the cooking time. It is also useful for presentation purposes, such as underneath oysters to keep them from falling over and for visual appeal.
What’s the taste of rock salt?
Rock salt can vary in taste depending on the region it is mined from and can possess interesting characteristics. Generally, it is mild and has a slightly earthy flavor.
Similar to rock salt, kosher salt is mined, but the processing and packaging is done according to Jewish guidelines. This means that no additives or chemicals are added, which means Kosher salt is not enriched with iodine.
It is quite consistent in taste and texture.
Himalayan salt, also known as pink salt or Himalayan pink salt, is a type of rock salt that is mined in the Himalayan region, primarily in Pakistan. It gets its distinctive pink color from trace minerals present in the salt, such as iron oxide.
It is often marketed as a healthier alternative to regular table salt due to its mineral content. However, it’s important to note that the mineral content is very low, and its health benefits are not scientifically proven. In fact, according to WebMD, you would need to eat a lethal amount of Himalayan salt to get any useful quantity of minerals!
It’s now ubiquitous in stores around the world and it’s frequently used for its aesthetic appeal.
Sea salt comes in many forms: granules, large crystals, and flakes. It is cultivated from filtered high salt content sea water using a process of evaporation.
As the water evaporates, salt crystals begin to form. The crystals are then allowed to settle, then removed, drained, and dried. Sea salt (as well as seafood for that matter) naturally contains iodine so no need to add it as a supplement.
Is sea salt worth the extra cost? In my professional and personal opinion, definitely.
If the chef has done her job properly, there is no need to add salt, so why put it on the table? However, guests sometimes request a bit of extra salt, and the best to serve up is pure sea salt flakes. One of the bet regions for sea salt is the English east coast, where beautiful flaky white soft crystals have been produced for centuries.
What’s the taste of sea salt?
When used in cooking sea salt blends seamlessly with the food. When used at the table it imparts a slight saltiness without the brackishness or lip cringing effect of other salts.
A few flakes on the tongue and its oceanic origins become very apparent. Is sea salt worth the extra cost? Definitely.