Nothing is more basic than salt. Sea water covers most of the earth and is salty. Fossilized salt is found high in the foothills of the Himalayas. Salt is harvested from the sea, found in giant deposits in the earth. Salt is everywhere. You even sweat salt.
We just spent a high energy weekend with friends and at one lull in the conversation the subject of cooking came up along with the use of salt, at which point I made the comment that I am tired of recipes calling for Kosher salt when just salt would do the job. Well, I might have well have thrown gasoline on a campfire. Our host - I’ll call her Sue - brought out samples of half dozen salts from around the world as a preamble to setting me straight on this savory culinary subject.
Meanwhile, as I am spouting off about all salt being sea salt, which is close to the truth, and adding that therefore it is all the same, which, as I was about to discover is false, Sue lays out her samples and commands me to test them and see just how uninformed I am.
Well, even with my ancient, mostly numb taste buds, I could detect some variances in flavor and strength between the Hawaiian Black Lava, the Himalayan Crystal Pink, the Persian Blue Diamond, Kosher, Morton’s, and Celtic. After such a demonstration, I felt that my usual mantra that “All salt is sea salt” and is just sodium chloride and therefore is just salt, was a bit thin for this sophisticated company. It’s the size of the crystals and the minerals, of course which differ from place to place and which do impart flavor which is unique.
As to the Kosher question, chefs seem to prefer it because of its milder taste and coarser granule. It has nothing to do with the Rabbinical salting of meats.
So I am duly chastened and set on a path toward more subtile seasoning of everything from my sunny side ups to my regionally famous shrimp etouffeé.
This discussion reminded me of that little packet of Celtic salt I had purchased months ago and forgotten. So when I got home from the weekend I found it and put it into a new salt grinder. My first grinding was into my palm for the “test”. Yep - it was salty!