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Dec 4, 2005 11:08 PM

Salt crystals are a girl's best friend: Hawaiian red clay salt?

  • c

Aloha hounds. I've been wanting to try Hawaiian red clay salt (alae salt), and finally bought some at an Asian market. Good deal at around $2.50/lb! Don't they look like stunning gemstones below?! I'm the kind of gal who's bedazzled by salt crystals over diamonds...

So now that I have a stash of this in my posession, I'm not quite sure how to use it up. The flavor is really wonderful...kind of smoky and floral, not acerbic at all! Since the photo is a close-up, the real life size is a little bigger than fleur de sel.

I'm thinking it would work for both savory and sweet preps. How is it traditionally used in Hawaii? Is it used during cooking or just as a finisher? What fish does it pair best with? I'm thinking that I have to make a coconut ice cream drizzled w/ some caramel sauce and finished w/ a sprinkling of this on top. Any ideas or recipes greatly appreciated!


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  1. Before I even got to the last paragraph of your post I was thinking "on roasted pineapple." How about that as an accompaniment to your coconut ice cream?

    1 Reply
    1. re: nooodles

      I love the idea of using it sweets!

      It looks wonderful on poke, a traditional Hawaiian raw fish dish. Also very pretty on sauteed shrimp and scallops.

      This is the one specialty salt I keep in the house along with Maldon salt. Although I did just buy some "fumee de sel," which is tasty.

    2. It looks glorious. I think I've seen it before, somewhere in New York (D&D?). Taste of course should be the first consideration, but I was thinking about what shades the coppery tones would look good against. I can imagine them resting on top of some smooth ganache-enrobed chocolate morsel. They look quite solid in the pic. Do they crunch more like sugar does, rather than flakily dissolve like fleur de sel? They remind me a bit of coloured sugar. Prob look great sprinkled on a suitably-flavoured cupcake, but I must say the smoothness of ganache instinctively feels more right.

      Let us know what you endup doing!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Kate

        Oh, color is def. an important consideration besides flavor since the color is the most striking part for me. Yes, they do crunch instead of dissolve. They would look and taste great on homemade choc truffles, but I don't care for truffles, so will perhaps make them as gifts. Sprinkled on mini cupcakes or petit fours is another good idea. Will keep you posted!

      2. Hello, I picked up a bag when I was in Maui and recently used it for the first time in a spice rub/paste for bbq ribs, which came out quite good, possibly the best bbq ribs I've had outside of Kansas City(don't accept the commercialized version of what KC bbq is, there are actually many styles there, like a competion between neighborhoods). Don't know how it's used in Hawaii, but they do a lot of grilling and bbq there. Bear in mind that their food is fusion to the nth degree because of the many Asian immigrants, European seafarers, Portuguese cowboys(really)and so on combined with the native folk, if you've been to a Roy's restaurant you get the idea (he has a cookbook, the salt might be featured, I don't know). Have fun

        1. Any suggestions on where to get in in Manhattan?

          3 Replies
          1. re: HowardL

            Kate mentioned Dean & Deluca below, but I bet it would be overpriced there. I don't know much about quality grades on this type of salt, but mine look similar to what I've seen elsewhere. Mine was in a plastic bag and packed by Amy's Fish Market in Honolulu, HI. I would check at a Japanese-heavy market rather than European-style gourmet market if you want to get a good deal. I paid $2.50 for 16 oz., but I usually see them for about $4-5/lb. at Asian markets.

            1. re: Carb Lover

              I've been thinking about it: while it prob is at Dean and Deluca, I also think I saw it at Citarella: that's the one with an upstairs and downstairs, right? I remember an impressive lobster tank underneath the fish counter... Aaah, New York!

              Citarella, 2135 Broadway (somewhere around 76th street)

              1. re: Kate

                It's $9/lb at Whole Foods here in San Francisco. And I think I'd be hard pressed to use more than a quarter pound in several months' time. They also have a gorgeous black Hawaiian salt at the same time (they look like shiny black crystals), and grey sea salt for a bargain.

          2. They have it in bulk at the Central Market I go to in Austin,TX and it's pretty cheap per lb. I'm fascinated by it but haven't used any yet.