“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt so that you may know how to answer everyone.” The apostle Paul- (Colossians 4:6).
Salt the Spice of Life
Salt – – an ingredient I cannot live without – – a pinch of it can bring anything to life. It is seductive, soothing, and controversial, yet essential to our lives. In spite of being essential for all living organisms, one of the most obvious fallacies in today’s society is that we should not eat salt, ”oh, yes” salt is bad for you, but wise and knowledgeable individuals understand that food without salt is boring and unsatisfying.
How bad is bad depends on how we define bad salt? Unrefined salt for instance when consumed in moderation, is good for your health. The saving grace of seasoning with salt is that without salt life would cease, our muscles will stop functioning, our ability to think will be impaired, our memory will be disrupted, and our heart will stop beating. Today salt is really a diet dilemma, but yet hundreds of years ago salt was more precious than diamonds. Since when has salt become such evil? If you ask me, the answer is industrialization, modernization, prep packaged meals and of course table salt. Before I say a thing more, an advice I give myself is when it comes to salt use your common sense and moderation. It is yesterday news perhaps – no secrets have been kept that too much of anything in a diet or in life in general, is bad for you – therefore, “balance” is the happy medium for a happy eating experience. For those who choose a well equilibrium life, salt could then be an everyday delight. I like salt, I cannot stop craving it, on my salad, on my ice cream – nothing like Fleur de Sel in your steak with a twist of lemon and black pepper or in your fish for the same matter; it is just simplicity in its own substance, that is, my own reality, my own satisfaction and yes my own relationship with a pinch or why not? two of salt.
All this and that!
Salt’s chemical composition is sodium, and chloride (NaCI). It is the most ancient and ubiquitous spices ever used; essential inside the body and outside of it for its culinary use and ability to preserve food. From the economic point of view salt ability to preserve food is perhaps the most significant throughout history. Almost all civilization has used it as the made elements to extend food’s life making possible food’s mobility by overcoming long distances. In the past salt was used by many imperious as currency, including the Roman Empire.
Two main types of salts to be aware of: unrefined salt and refine or table salt.
Unrefined salt is harvested and not processed. This is the oldest form of collecting salt, through this media the salt is collected from the sea and it is then produced by evaporation. Since unrefined salt lacks processing, the salt contains many traces elements very similar to the one found in our blood. These elements include magnesium and potassium; two minerals that are necessary for our health. In fact, potassium and magnesium work together with sodium to regulate water balance, our nerve system and our muscle impulses. Sodium cannot be produced within the human body, so it is important to include it in our diet.
When salt is processed then it turns into table or refine salt, here the traces elements are all removed and replaced with additives such as iodine and anti-caking agents. This unfortunate outcome is what limits us from getting enough of the salt’s natural elements in our diet; nevertheless our diet is full of sodium. Salt is in our table, in our packages, even on medication; refine salt is hidden everywhere. After these elements are removed all is left is pure sodium chloride plus the added iodine. Although iodine is needed to prevent cases of iodine deficiency diseases, such as goiters, cretinism, myxedema in adults and neurological disorders in children; the problem though is that people eating a well-balance diet do not need the iodine added. Iodine is widely available in many foods, such as sea fish, shellfish, eggs, cereal grains, legumes and dairy products. Another problem is that most of the foods people consume today, including medicines, have also hidden sources of iodine so no more is needed. At the end of the day we end up eating too much of it. We have to be vigilant and watch out for hidden salt. And at the time of selecting salt please be very cautious and choose unrefined and additive free salt.
Last but not least, be prudent, it is not a secret to anyone that taking high intake of salt could lead to serious health problems, especially for those individuals with hypertension or high blood pressure and with that said and before someone cried out pleading me to stop – I cannot control myself, I read and do so much research on my subject that I get a little carry away- let’s go to my Salmon a la sal- salmon baked under a load of salt. Just a warning, the fish will be covered entirely under kosher salt, but I promise you that the fish won’t be salty at all.
Cooking A La Salt Technique.
Cooking a la salt is a very old Mediterranean technique. This cooking method has been said to be used in China since ancient time as well. This is a very simple technique which consists of cooking foods on its own steam to conserve all their juices. The result is food that is tender, juicy and delicious. Although I poured the kosher salt directly from the box over the salmon, this technique usually calls for a mix of egg white and a little water. You can make the mix if you wish, but the salt alone worked really well. Do not be afraid with the amount of salt used, the end product won’t be salty; the salt instead will absorbed the grease if any and will contributes to the food natural flavor. Also, feel free to use any kind of whole fish- normally used with this technique- or you can use my techniques if the fish allows for it. Serve the fish with vegetable or starch or as you wish…salmon goes well with everything.
Salmon A la Sal with seasoned roasted potatoes & balsamic vinaigrette
For the Salmon:
Salt & black pepper to taste
1 Large salmon filet with skin on it
For the potatoes:
1-2 lbs. red and white potatoes diced
Salt & black pepper to taste
2-3 Thyme’s sprigs
1-2 long hot peppers sliced (jalapeño or any hot pepper)
Seasoned garlic oil (poached a head of garlic on olive oil on the stove – medium fire)
½ to ¼ cup of water
For the garnishing:
Olive oil-balsamic vinaigrette
Approximate ratio is, for every tablespoon of balsamic vinegar use two tablespoons of olive oil.
Salt & black pepper to taste
Over a cookie’s tray make a mold with tin foil, big enough to accommodate the whole piece of salmon. Season the bottom of the foil with a little bit of olive oil and a few pinches of salt and pepper.
Place the salmon skin down on the mold and cover the whole fish skin surface with plenty of kosher salt. Make sure no to allow any salt on the fish flesh. Bake the salmon at 350 ºF for about 20 minutes. When ready the salt will form a crust, carefully break away the biggest pieces of salt and discard. Pull off the skin to uncover the juice flesh.
For the potatoes:
In a bowl season the potatoes with salt and pepper, the thyme, the hot peppers and the oil.
Place the potatoes in a cooking tray; add the water and bake at 350 ºF for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Make sure to stir the potatoes a few times to keep it moist and coated with the oil and the water that was added.
The assembly and presentation:
Place the potatoes in a serving plate and put the salmon on top. Garnish with the vinaigrette and a sprig of thyme. Enjoy!
The End! Very interesting …
Now days, salt has become a very trendy ingredient not only among chefs, but also across the culinary world and food aficionados alike. Although the end meaning of using salt is to satisfy our natural taste for saltiness, all salt are not the same. Different salt has its own distinctive flavor, color and texture. Sea salt for instance comes in all different shapes and sizes giving us a great range of choices to choose from.
By now I am sure you know my love affair with salt and so it goes without saying that in my kitchen, salt is anything but boring. There are many unrefined salts to choose from, but my all-time favorites are the following four:
Fleur de Sel-Flower of Salt – extracted from the top of salt ponds early in the process of evaporation. This salt is a product of high quality; natural, humid, pure and without additives. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that flower of salt is very exclusive and considered “the caviar of salt”. It is hand harvested using traditional Celtic methods. As the water evaporate from the salt ponds, fragile flowers form on the top layer. The flower are scraped using only wooden tools. This process is only done once a year in the summer and before sunrise to avoid that the wind blows it away. Flower of Salt is simply a great condiment. It is from the coast of Brittany, France. It has a soothing delicacy and a pure white hue or lightly greyish. Salt de sel is a salt that dissolve easily. Its spice flavor is a delight when added to steaks, grilled meat, salad, or when used to add finishing flavors in a dinner plate.
Kosher salt – Unlike sea salt kosher salt does not come from natural current sea water, but instead kosher salt is mined from land dried of ocean seas, sea beds and other sources of water. The big different between kosher salt and table salt though is that kosher salt does not contains iodine or additives. Once mined this salt is let to dry naturally with no refining processes at all. This salt is actually considered the purest one; as a matter of fact this salt was developed to remove impurities. It was created for the preparation of kosher meats in accordance to Jews’ guideline laws where blood or impurities are drawn when meat is butchered. Then, kosher salt itself is not kosher, but the purpose is, and now the name too. Kosher salt is very trendy and preferred by many chefs for its ability to dissolve fast, for its flavors, for its flakiness and weight. By weight I mean, it weighs less than table salt, therefore more is needed at the time of seasoning. Other than for baking, this salt is good on everything.
Maldon salt- is worth mentioning, for its flavor, its quality and because it is produced locally and handcrafted from the United Kingdom. It is flaky, with very compact texture and crunchy. It is ideal in meats, salads and vegetables. Also, it is excellent for decorating dishes because when it comes in contact with liquid it takes time to dissolve. This quality makes Maldon salt visible to the eyes and agreeable to the taste. It could be expensive, but every penny spent will be worth a million smiles.
Himalayan pink salt- is pure and hand-mined harvested. It is found naturally deep in the pristine of the Himalayan Mountains; this salt is covered by volcanic lava. The lava coating protects the salt crystal from pollution. Because of its purity and traces elements this salt delivers many health benefits to the body. It is Ideal in meats and fish.
Other sea salts varieties to try (I have not used these yet, but I am looking forward to add then to my collection-have fun with it).
Grey Salt- also called Celtic Salt or Sel Gris, Flake Salt, Grinder Salt, Smoked Sea Salt, Black Salt or Kala Namak, French Sea Salt, Italian Sea Salt, Hawaiian sea salt, Coarse salt, Hawaiian Red Sea Salt and Sel Gris de Guérande.
http://es.wikipedia.org/Historia de la sal
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