Pass The Salt

Pass The Salt

With A Little Sprinkle Of Artisanal Salt, You Can Instantly Elevate Your Favorite Dishes

The days of tossing a pinch of iodized salt into a pot when you’re making pasta or searing meat are done. Instead, high-end salts, in a variety of flavors, like rose, truffle, licorice, and lemon, can make the difference between a basic meal and a seriously flavorful one.

“Investing in high-end salts and using them as ‘finishing salts’ is a great idea,” says Joe Anthony, chef de cuisine of Gabriel Kreuther, a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City. “Simply sprinkle a pinch over your food right before serving. And don’t be afraid to think outside the box. You can—and should—use your fancy salts for fruits and even sweet treats.”

And salts come in a wide variety of textures, flavors, and food pairings. “For example,” Anthony says, “we use pink salt to cure, kosher salt during the cooking process, and fleur de sel or sea salt to complete dishes.”


This salt, known as “flower of salt” in French, is a delicate salt variety that’s made of naturally formed crystals of solar evaporated sea salt.

“Fleur de sel is fantastic on anything from fish to pork to cooked vegetables and, even, toast and butter,” says Mark Bitterman, founder of Bitterman Salt Co.; author of Salted, a James Beard Award-winning book; and the founder of The Meadow—a boutique that specializes in finishing salts in Portland, Ore.; New York City; and Tokyo. “This is the style of salt that I use for everyday cooking. It’s great on my morning scrambled eggs. I consider this to be the ultimate multipurpose salt.”

Bitterman Salt Co. ups the ante on the everyday food seasoning
Bitterman Salt Co. ups the ante on the everyday food seasoning.


If you want to make one single salt upgrade in your pantry, it should be to make sure you always have kosher coarse flake salt at the ready, especially if you’re a pasta aficionado, since it’s just right for salting pasta water as you’re bringing it to a boil, says chef Moosah Reaume, executive chef of the Virgin Hotels Chicago. “Because it doesn't have iodine, kosher salt dissolves easily and the texture is perfect for pinching and sprinkling onto anything that just needs an extra hint of salt,” he says.

Macro images of salt from Salted, by Mark Bitterma.
Macro images of salt from Salted, by Mark Bitterma


When Suzannah Gerber, an executive chef at Haven, a vegan food-service firm in Boston, is making a lemon tart, she’ll top it with lemon salt. “Salt and citrus have the ability to individuate flavors in a composition, and together they’re an unstoppable match,” she says. “I love how the tangy citrus salt stays very present on the fresh fruit topping and makes all the layered textures and flavors stand out boldly.”


For Kevin Adey, chef and owner of Faro, a Brooklyn restaurant, Maldon sea salt flakes, made in England since 1882, are the ultimate finisher and work wonders to enhance the flavor of grilled meats, especially. “I use these flakes since they’re so full-flavored on my New York strip, venison, and duck breast,” he says. “I slice the meat before serving it and the large, crunchy salt flakes not only add a great visual and textural accent, but they also season the center of the sliced meat.”

Hand-harvested Icelandic sea salt from Saltverk, a boutique company
Hand-harvested Icelandic sea salt from Saltverk, a boutique company.


At odo in New York City, Michelin-starred chef Hiroki Odo prefers to use sansho salt in his nine-course kaiseki experience. He first sources the berries of the sansho, or spicy Japanese pepper, before he crushes them and adds them into a salt base. “Sansho salt enhances the flavor of each dish,” Odo says. “It’s very versatile, but it works best for rich or fried dishes like tempura. The effects of sansho cut right through any oiliness and bring a unique aspect that adds depth to every dish I use it in.”


A sister to fleur de sel, sel gris, or “gray salt” in French, has a slightly briney taste and a texture that melts in your mouth, Bitterman says. “It’s very coarse,” he explains. “It can be overpowering, so it’s best used in foods that have a more mild or medium texture. Sel gris is fantastic if you’re making something hearty like steak, lamb, or a roast and works just as well if you’re making roasted root vegetables.”

Macro images of salt from Salted, by Mark Bitterma.
Macro images of salt from Salted, by Mark Bitterma

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