Posts tagged “salt”

The little touches that mean so much

We did an unplanned meal shopping thing at Safeway the other day – went in for that night’s meal, thinking “let’s get some fish, and maybe some vegetables.” We check out the fish and choose Dover Sole, relatively bland. We think about some spices and I go off to the spice aisle for something from Zatarains or whoever has that silhouetted dancing chef (anyone?), but then we see this pretty cool display right in front of our noses (there’s so much crap on display in these stores that I guess we tend to look past it when possible) – a variety of spices and marinades.

The fish-prepping man was incredibly nice, very genial, and asked lots of questions as he prepared our food (“how spicy do you like it?”, etc.). We could get the spices on the fish, or on the side. He pointed out another flavor they had but didn’t have room for in the display. We went from ingredients to meal with an enjoyable and custom bit of service (yeah, you can buy flavored/spiced fish and chicken, already done, but this was done at that moment, just for us).

Of course, there were no ingredients on these containers and if you’ve ever read the packages on marinades and flavoring spices you’ve probably noticed the ridiculous amount of salt they contain. We usually comparison shop at length until we find something that is not going to drown us in NaCl. Well, as you can imagine, the fish was spicy and really really really really salty. Each bit was like someone held your tongue with a pair of tongs and held a container of free-running salt above your head for a full minute.

Interestingly, I don’t blame Safeway for that. I take responsibility – caveat emptor – for purchasing a likely-to-be-salty product without finding out more. I compliment Safeway for providing a value-added experience (with the quality of the service – the human – really making it work). I guess we won’t do that next time, and will take the prep burden back on ourselves.

also: I thought the design of the marinade dispensers was kinda cool, allowing you to measure and presumably prevent overpouring.

From fleur de sel to kosher, which salt is best?

In this Slate article by Dan Crane the fancy-delancy salts and their poor-as-peter siblings are put through their taste-test paces.

Although sodium chloride is the primary component of all salt, the texture and shape of the crystals must also be considered, as those qualities fundamentally impact salt’s taste and how it interacts with food. Does it provide satisfying crunch, dissolve nicely when it should? How well does it season food? How well does it stand alone?

Three tests were performed on nine salts (from each of the four salt varieties) by eight tasters in New York City: the finger dip (self-explanatory), salt atop a slice of fresh cucumber, and salt used in pasta sauce made with unsalted canned tomatoes. (I made Marcella Hazan’s classic tomato sauce.)

While the East Coast results were interesting, I felt they were inconclusive. Thus, I embarked on Round 2, which took place in Los Angeles at one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants, the Edendale Grill in Silverlake. The restaurant kindly agreed to cook French fries and steaks for a group of eight testers, using each of the same nine salts.

In both rounds, testers were asked to blindly rate the salt from 1 to 10 and comment on its taste. The scores from all five rounds were averaged together for one final ‘taste’ score. Salts were also assigned an aesthetic rating based on the packaging and the look of the salt itself, since appearance is often as important as taste.


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