If you go to a Korean grocery store, you’ll find almost an aisle dedicated to salt. There you can find sun-baked salt, sea salt, low-sodium salt, calcium-fortified salt, clay-oven baked salt, flavoring salt (salt combined with MSG—ugh!), and many more. With so many to choose from, it’s hard to give your basic iodized table salt a second glance. And who would want to?
Depending on what context I think of salt, I experience a range of reactions from melting bliss to annoyance and/or revulsion.
Happy Salt Thoughts
Fran’s salted caramels from Seattle—yum!
Salt-encrusted fish—I have the fondest memories of having salt-encrusted red snapper at a fancy Mexican restaurant in Philadelphia as well as when I was in Puerto Vallarta. The salt was chipped away as it was served, leaving the most flavorful, tender, yet un-salty fish. Heaven!
Hamachi shioyaki or saba shioyaki—one of the best ways to prepare fish. (Try my recipe here.)
Unhappy Salt Thoughts
People who automatically salt their food without tasting it.
Health concerns—As one gets older, one needs to cut down/watch sodium intake for high blood pressure, edema, water-retention, and more. What’s really tough is trying to figure out what to cook for someone who’s on a low-sodium diet, especially over the holidays.
Restaurants whose chefs forget or have never learned that it’s better to undersalt because food gets saltier over time/when it cools down.
Other Salt Trivia
Consider using coarse salt and lemon juice to clean off copper-bottom pans. (Also another way to soften hands while doing dishes—however, not recommended when you have open cuts on hands.)
Salting strawberries while washing them in a bowl helps the sediment sink to the bottom and bring out the flavor/juiciness of fruit.
Did you know that in some countries, salt is used as currency to pay for a wife and other goods?
Salt mind games in Asian dining. It is not uncommon for a hostess, when presenting her special dish, would say that what she’s prepared is “too bland” or “too salty,” as a way to fish for compliments. The proper action for the guest would be to dig in with unbridled relish and shower the hostess with compliments—as though it were the best one has ever eaten. (Note: one is NEVER to add salt to the food, especially while the hostess is watching. If anything, seek the saltiness from the accompanying side dishes; or, if the food item is salty, eat more rice with the food item and wash down with lots of tea/water.)
Did you know bars often give salty pretzels/peanuts in order to sell more booze? Likewise, movie theaters/sports concession stands make sure their popcorn is nice and salty to ensure beverage sales.