2.6.12 Flava Flav

Flavored-salts-790-xxx
photos by gluttonforlife
I have a big collection of salts—Indonesian, Himalayan, Japanese, smoked, curried—and I am not shy about liberally sprinkling them as finishing touches on everything from salad to oatmeal. I've also experimented with adding my own flavors (black trumpet mushroom, wild lime, shiso seed) and recently was inspired by this lovely post to try some new ones. If you have not yet discovered the wonders of sea salt in all its sparkling, saline glory (maybe you missed this post?), this is your chance. Of late I have sprinkled black trumpet salt on mushroom risotto, smoked salt on ricotta, cacao salt on beans, citrus salt on tempura and cumin salt on lamb. It adds a wonderful crunch and a pure burst of flavor that dissolves on the tongue. Irresistible.
Kitchen-790-xxx
cozy kitchen corner with citrus
At the moment, citrus abounds in my kitchen. (I love this corner, by the way. I will often sit on this little leather couch and enjoy the early morning sun, drinking a cup of genmaicha and writing.) I have kumquats, limes, lemons, bergamots, Indian limes and HoneyBells to choose from.
Citrus-790-xxx
sunnyside up
Kumquats are actually much more versatile than you would think. I like to eat them whole, or add slices of them to my drinking water. Paradoxically, the rind is sweet and whatever little inner flesh they have is the more tart part. You can also cook them down with sugar and water to make a fantastic quick marmalade.
Zest-790-xxx
zest for life
Sea salt is produced through the evaporation of seawater, usually with minimal processing. This leaves behind trace minerals and elements, which add flavor and color depending on the water source. Table salt is mined from underground salt deposits and more heavily processed to eliminate minerals. It usually contains an additive to prevent clumping, as well as added iodine, an essential nutrient for synthesizing thyroid hormones. You only need a tiny amount of iodine and if you're not eating table salt, you can get enough by eating sea vegetables, fish, dairy products and even strawberries. It's yet another good reason to eat some seaweed.
Citrus-salt-790-xxx
flecks and flakes
I've made salt with citrus zest before, so I was intrigued to see that the post on 101 Cookbooks calls for drying it in a low oven. I tried this with one batch and discovered that it really seems to decrease the pungency, both in smell and taste, so I prefer to skip this step. I find that the salt sucks enough moisture out of the zest to prevent it from clumping, and in this way also retains much more of the flavor. You can experiment to see what you think.
Cumin-seeds-790-xxx
cumin through my window
While I was at it, I decided to make a few other flavors. I had some small glass spice jars on hand, and figured they would make nice hostess gifts for friends. I was cooking a lamb dish for dinner, so thought of cumin seeds. Toasting them first brings out their oils and both intensifies and mellows them, adding a rounder note.
Cumin-salt-790-xxx
back to the grind
I blitzed them a few times in my spice grinder, then added sea salt and pulsed that briefly to combine. The smell is glorious. This would be fantastic sprinkled on a jícama salad, over fish tacos or on a tomato curry.
Cacao-nibs-790-xxx
little bits
I've had some cacao nibs lurking about my pantry for a while and this recipe made me think of them again. If you've never tried these before, I suggest you order some from here. They are bits of fermented, dried, roasted and crushed cacao beans. Crunchy yet tender, they have a complex, slightly bitter chocolate flavor and are very rich in antioxidants. Earthy, but not sweet, they are somehow strangely satisfying to eat plain but also can be used in a variety of dishes, from cookies to mashed potatoes. I'm making oatmeal right now, and I stirred some pumpkin puree and grated apple into it and added a generous pinch of cacao salt. This shallot marmalade looks incredible, no?
Cacao-salt-790-xxx
salt of the earth
This cacao salt is simply nibs and salt blitzed in the spice grinder. I plan to sprinkle it on banana bread before baking it and, as I mentioned earlier, it's delicious on black beans. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. If you'd like to try a few of your own combinations, you can always go here for inspiration and supplies. Before you know it, you'll be an old hand at salt...or just an old salt.
 

Citrus Salt

makes about 1/2 cup
  • — 1/2 cup sea salt (ideally something flaky like Maldon)
  • — 1 tablespoon citrus zest

Use unwaxed citrus or scrub your fruit thoroughly. Combine the salt and zest in a bowl and mix, incorporating the zest into the salt really well. You can blitz a few times in a food processor if you want a finer consistency. Store in an air-tight container.

Download_recipe  Download Recipe

Cumin Salt

makes about 1/3 cup
  • — 1/3 cup sea salt (ideally something flaky like Maldon)
  • — 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

Gently toast the cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until they begin to turn color and become fragrant. Watch carefully as they must not burn!

Combine with salt in spice grinder and blitz a few times to get desired consistency.

Store in an airtight container.

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Cacao Salt

makes about 2/3 cup
  • — 1/3 cup sea salt (ideally something flaky like Maldon)
  • — 1/3 cup cacao nibs

Combine salt and nibs in food processor or spice grinder and process. I like to retain to a slightly coarser consistency.

Store in an airtight container.

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4 Comments

I was inspired by Heidi's post on citrus salts too, and have been mulling over salts I want to make. I love your ideas here - and thanks so much for the link to my recipe! Have a great week, Laura!
The Wimpy Vegetarian on February 6, 2012 at 7:12 am — Reply
Cacao salt! Yes!!!! Jumping up to make it right now.
Alana on February 7, 2012 at 6:56 am — Reply
Cacao salt?!! Whaat. Love this. We're making turkey & black bean chili to suit the drizzly monsoon weather. Enamored with my cacao nibs lately; I'm blitzing a batch of this sea salt today to accompany the chili. I made citrus salt based on Heidi's instructions & was surprised there wasn't more pungency & flavor. I'll have to try again with your suggestion. Thanks!
allie on July 2, 2013 at 5:35 pm — Reply
Allie, that cacao salt will be delicious on your chili! Also check out this post about flavored salts: http://gluttonforlife.com/2013/05/8/salt_away
laura on July 2, 2013 at 5:44 pm — Reply