4 Types of Salt and How to Use Them

Photo: QuintanaRoo Marcus likes to mix things up when he’s cooking by throwing surprise flavors into traditional dishes. However, he never denies,  knowing the basics of preparing food is the first step to learning the art of cooking. That's why in this post I want to get back to basics and explain the differences between the varying salts on the shelves of your local grocery store. Here are four different easy-to-find varieties, with tips on what they are and when to use them.

Kosher Salt. Kosher works splendid as a basic table salt, and is great to use when you are cooking or baking. It dissolves quickly and disperses fast, so chefs recommend sprinkling it on everything from chicken to chocolate. The most notable brands of Kosher salt include Morton and Diamond Crystal. However, Diamond is the more popular brand among foodies due to its natural crystal texture. Generally, these brands cost around a $1 a pound and can be found in every supermarket, general store, and bodega.

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Sea Salt. The sea variety of salt adds a more pungent briny flavor to just-cooked foods. Nevertheless, this variety can add an unevenly dispersion of the brackish flavor; therefore this one is best reserved as an addition to a dish after it is finished. These crystals will complement any prepared food set on the table. The color depends on the mineral content of the salt marshes. The pigments range from white to dark red. As of late, sea salt has moved from being only found at gourmet shops to being established at all local super markets.

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Black Salt. A pungent variety that blends sea salt with activated charcoal. You do not want to use black salt in place of the table variation or your dish will take on a strong, salty, sulfur taste, so use sparingly. I like to sprinkle it on Frittatas, tofu, or blue cheese. You can find black salt at health food stores and all artisan markets.

Smoked Salt. This aromatic edible salt product contains added smoke flavor. The best varieties have acquired their taste by being smoked over wood fires, but be careful, some types use chemicals to obtain the thick flavor, leaving a strong after taste. The colors vary from light gray to dark brown. Smoked salt lends a barbecue character to anything it is scattered on including peaches, corn-on-the-cob, and fish. My favorite quality brand is Frontier medium grind smoked sea salt found at most local markets or online at frontiercoop.com.