October 6, 2008

VeganMoFo: Salts Of The Earth, For The Salt Of The Earth

by IsaChandra

I can kind of see “finishing salts” as the punchline for some redneck stand up. I can see Sarah Palin disparaging it at a town hall meeting – Joe Six Pack isn’t puttin’ any of your city salts on his potatoes. But Joe Six Pack doesn’t know what he’s missing out on!

Salt is a very personal thing – everyone has their perfect salt point, what the Germans call piekenseltzen. Actually, I just made that phrase up, but I am sure the French have a word for it. You need to incorporate salt into your dish while it’s cooking, be it a sauce or a soup or a marinade. But I am typically an undersalter because once on the plate, it’s easy enough to sprinkle on to your liking.

These fancy shmancy boutique salts go a long way to adding new dimensions to your food. I have a few favorites I’m gonna’ share with you so that you too can feel like a big yuppie.

Smoked Salt

Smoked salt is perfect for roasting vegetables. If you have the option of choosing a grind, keep it coarse so that the salt holds its shape while roasting. A few of my favorite veggies to sprinkle smoked salt on are cauliflower, eggplant and baby potatoes. I also love it sprinkled on juicy, sliced tomatoes. There are so many varieties of smoked salt but my two favorites are applewood and hickory. That just refers to the kind of wood used to smoke it.

Black Salt

Yeah, black salt is actually pink. Nothing gets passed you, does it? This is what started it all for me. I had heard that the sulfuric taste of black salt was akin to egg yolks and I had to try it. And it’s true – the taste is pretty much identical, making this salt perfect for tofu “egg” salads. I also use it in my omelet recipe. But I try not to go too crazy with it – the taste is very strong and you might be paying for it hours afterwards. I usually get this in a medium grind, because sometimes I want it to dissolve completely and sometimes I want it to stay a little crunchy. My friend Eppy swears by black salt and avocado, which I’m sure is good but I haven’t tried it. There are other kinds of black salt but the kind you want is Indian black salt, also called kala namak. You can often find it in Indian grocery stores for much cheaper than at a foo-foo shop.

Truffle Salt

This is my most prized possession and probably the salt that I use the most. Truffle salt is a blend of dried, ground truffle and sea salt, but the truffle taste is incredibly strong and earthy – exotic even. Pretend you’re a millionaire and sprinkle some on your pastas, your sandwiches, your pate, your risotto. I sometimes add them to my portobellos, as if they weren’t scrumptious and mushroom-y enough. In Portland you can often pick this up at farmer’s markets but if you’re purchasing it at a salt shop ask for it because it usually goes by some French name that I don’t remember. I like a fine grind for truffle salt so that it dissolves quickly and the flavor gets everywhere.

Well, those are my favorites. I know I was making a big display about what an upper class twit you are if you buy these things, but in reality they are a pretty economical way to add flavor. My one ounce bag of truffle salt cost 3 bucks and lasts months, even though I use it a lot. Happy saltin’, you Joe Forty Ouncers!



  • October 6, 2008 at 4:07 pm: AsstroGirl

    What a great write-up on salts! I first learned about smoked salt from you and love the stuff. I’ve been checking out the salt shelf at Penzey’s and am ready to branch out.

  • October 6, 2008 at 4:21 pm: Mihl

    I can’t get any liquid smoke, so I am always relying on smoked salt instead. It’s awesome stuff. I’ve never seen black als truffle salt though. Thank you for writing about the taste of black salt. I didn’t know anything about it.

  • October 6, 2008 at 4:32 pm: Sina

    Very interesting post on salt and the blog title made me smile (and reminded me of an ironical roleplay we wrote in school)!
    We Germans unfortunately don’t have a word for the perfect salt point … haha! Really, we should be more creative!

  • October 6, 2008 at 4:43 pm: Paula

    I really need to try smoked salt!

  • October 6, 2008 at 4:43 pm: Bethany

    black salt sounds intersting. and i do love pink.

  • October 6, 2008 at 5:20 pm: Keith

    Wowzer, the truffle salt sounds AWESOME!

    I might have to check out the smoked salt. I’m allergic to *something* in liquid smoke (instant asthma), but I’ve never had a problem eating smoked anything, so that has potential.

    I, personally, consider myself an average-joe-two-martinis…but, of course, I’m commenting on a post about fancy salt, so that was probably expected.

  • October 6, 2008 at 6:14 pm: Tara

    This was so interesting! I haven’t tried any of these salts but now I’m on a mission to find them.

  • October 6, 2008 at 8:59 pm: River (Wing-it vegan)

    That first paragraph cracked me up! So, you’re like the salt guru. :)

  • October 6, 2008 at 10:47 pm: lisa (show me vegan)

    thanks for this info! I love a hot salt from the Outer Banks, made smoky from chiles. Now I definitely want to try the smoked and truffle salts you mention.

  • October 7, 2008 at 1:26 am: Stephanie

    I love smoked salt! I was thinking of ways to smoke it myself and had all these ideas of what to soak the wood in before smoking, like champagne or merlot.

  • October 7, 2008 at 5:06 am: Katie

    I bought coarse sea salt without thinking about how it would work in baked goods, but one night I was making brownies and realized that it might be weird. But I tried it anyway and it was like eating a chocolate covered pretzel – perfect balance of salty and sweet. I’ve made cookies with it too and it’s also awesome.

  • October 7, 2008 at 8:32 am: JohnP

    I have never tried smoked salt or truffle salt, but now I have to!

  • October 7, 2008 at 10:26 am: bex

    those are fancy schmancy salts! none of which I can get around here. Everyone has the same salts that are pretty colors but not huge flavor difference, just salt. I’ll just have to order up a box of salts joe sixpack can be proud of.

  • October 7, 2008 at 1:10 pm: Kristi BadYogi

    I had two houseguests this past weekend who went ot our local farmer’s market, which is where the rich people in this city shop, and they went into Foo Foo Yuppie Spice Shop and bought a small, $15 bottle of smoked salt. They brought it home and were so excited to show it off that I didn’t have the heart to point out to them that the front of the label clearly said “smocked viking salt – product of Pakistan”, and the back clearly said “ingredients: salt, pepper, curry, flavor enhancer E621″ (E621 is MSG).

    Yuppie store: 1, Houseguests: 0

  • October 7, 2008 at 1:16 pm: Amey

    oh cool, I’m glad to read this post. I’ve been thinking about learning more about the different salt varieties… but haven’t gotten around to it yet. We don’t have much salt selection, but next time I’m in the big city, I’ll pick some up.

  • October 7, 2008 at 1:47 pm: Jenn Lynskey

    Thanks for the salt expose.

    I’d say beware of Trader Joe’s black salt because it is black and contains sea salt and charcoal. I bought it before I realized it was supposed to be pink.

    Sel a la Truffe (blanche) is French for (white) Truffle salt. O&Co has a nice one. They have white and black truffle oil, too. Yum.

  • October 7, 2008 at 2:45 pm: Jay **theveganfoodie**

    I heard about these gourmet salts from a radio show that you were on. When I go to a spice shop I will certainly pick these up. They look so good! I am just imagining the alll the different flavors I can create with these salts!!

  • October 7, 2008 at 5:22 pm: Monique

    I’ve never had truffle salt before. Actually, truffles are pretty foreign to me. But I just purchased the other two last week.

    I think I’ll pick up some truffle salt and truffle oil the next time I go shopping.

  • October 7, 2008 at 7:24 pm: Helena

    amazing, i’ve been freaking out about that black salt for a few months. i’m so happy it’s been discovered by others. the stuff i use is called ‘eurasian black sea salt’ and it’s just a fine pink dust. i want a huge bag but can’t find a bulk source. it really does make you eggless (egg salad sandwich filling, etc.) taste like a deviled egg, if you like that kind of thing.

  • October 11, 2008 at 12:58 pm: purplesque

    Black salt is phenomenal with all kinds of fruit. Try apples, watermelon, oranges. Add it to a cucumber salad or sprinkle some over plain yogurt drinks. Thanks for a great post!

  • October 12, 2008 at 1:06 pm: The Vegan Snorkeler

    I love truffle salt! It’s so good on mashed potatoes. I’d never even heard of the other salts, but I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for them.

  • October 19, 2008 at 1:00 am: Kacie

    Wait. Did I miss it? Where does one buy this $3 truffle salt? I guess I could attempt to smoke my own salt, but of course, if I could just buy it. . .

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  • July 11, 2010 at 1:07 pm: Truffle Salt Man

    3 bucks for an ounce is quite a good price. Beware of truffle oils though since most are synthetic (check on wikipedia if you don’t believe me!). Don’t forget you can get truffle salts with all different types of truffles (black winter, white, etc)– they’re all great!

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