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Dec 28, 2012 09:53 AM

Finishing Salts

Hi All --

I did a quick search and read through a couple of the threads that dealt with the topic of finishing salts, sea salt, etc.

I'll start by saying I normally keep a box of Diamond Crystals in my cupboard, and it does the lion's share of work in my cooking. I have a salt mill that I fill with generic course crystals for table use, and I have roughly 1.5 cups of Maldon salt that I use sporadically.

For Christmas, however, I received a gift of three different salts... Fleur de Sel Gris (medium grain), Pink Himalayan salt (very fine) and Red Alaea salt from Hawaii (fairly coarse).

I have two questions. In general, when and how do you use finishing salts? I've heard people say "on very fresh tomatoes" or similar things. Though often when I do that the Maldon dissolves almost immediately and I'm left to wonder why I bothered with the fancy stuff.

To that first question I'm not so much looking for An Answer as to absorb some wisdom from what will hopefully turn out to be an interesting discussion.

The second question is more specific. Of the three I mentioned above (grey-medum, pink-fine and red-coarse) how might you use them differently and under what circumstances? I did a very cursory side-by-side comparison between them and no hugely discernible differences in flavor jumped out at me--though quite honestly I wasn't paying that much attention.

Thank you for your wisdom.

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    1. Fleur de Sel Gris does not soak as much water out of food as other salts do, so it makes a good finishing salt. I've used it when I want to use just a touch of salt and get more salt flavor. Perhaps this is similar to Maldon -- I have not tried a side-by-side comparison.

      The pink and red salts have a great deal more minerals than common table salt (which is sort of like refined sugar in that the other minerals are stripped out). I suppose they'd look good on cukes or something. I mostly think of these as healthier than plain Kosher salt.

      1 Reply
      1. re: travelerjjm

        That's an interesting fact about FdS. I think that may be why I found Maldon a little disappointing... it's more like very thin salt flakes, and (I guess) is better used on foods with a lower water content. I was expecting part of the fun with it would be to give some salty crunch, and instead it just melted like a snowflake in July... at least when I tried it on a caprese salad.

      2. Sel gris is my go-to finishing salt. I sprinkle it on veggies (roasted, raw, anything), eggs, bread+butter, vanilla ice cream, pb cookies, etc.Thanks to its high moisture content, it retains its shape and crunch nicely.

        Himalayan I tend to use on fish (I find the sel gris a bit too coarse for the tender filets). If I ate meat, I'd use it there, too.

        I don't think I've had alaea before. In "Salted," Mark Bitterman says it's best with "fish, pork, hearty Mexican dishes like tamales;it is the soulmate of fresh fruits."

        1. What I love about fleur de sel is that what doesn't dissolve is a texture plus--I hate the persistent grittiness of table salt. I like fleur de sel especially well on boiled or fried eggs and on risotto. But really it's great on anything that needs a bit more salt.

          Perhaps since it's more crystally than flaky you'll like it better than Maldon.

          1. You may faint when you hear my answer..........but mostly, I use them on Canadian Stoned Wheat thins that have been spread with butter and Peanut butter

            Sometimes I put a little on cooked Chicken Breasts but I don't use too much salt in my cooking