31 Jul2006

sal1

I was doing a reconnaissance mission through our pantry (actually a large closet) which is jam-packed with stuff and I came across the salt “section.” Tucked away behind 10 inches of shelf sal2frontage were about a dozen different containers of salt! And this only covers the imported salts! I also stock local rock salt from Batangas, and chi-chi varieties like branded Guimaras salt… There has been so much written about salt and the best mini-story I read about the subject was written by Jeffrey Steingarten in one of his books… essentially, since the base ingredient of sodium is the same in all salts, its just a question of the different other mineral contents, the structure of the crystals, and the price you pay that probably sways your taste buds! I can definitely taste the difference between iodized and non-iodized salt but I have to admit great difficulty in discerning between non-iodized salts in a blindfolded taste-test. So, basically, I admit it’s a bit ma-arte to have so many salts in stock but that’s just me…

Some of the salts in the photo are French sea salts, hand gathered ephemeral flakes that taste more salty than salt, there are also U.S. rock salts and kosher salts and treated table salts (don’t you hate it when salt sticks to the shakers?). I also have the Maldon sea salts that have been made in sal3Maldon, U.K. for hundreds of years by heating salt water and evaporating the water, leaving the most amazing white fluffy crystals. And finally, there is my latest acquisition, pink Himalayan salt which comes from ancient fossil marine sea salt deposits 10,000 feet high up in the Himalayas… at PHP500 for a small container, this is the most wickedly expensive salt I have ever purchased. It looks good, with a tinge of pink, apparently a result of the calcium, magnesium, copper and iron deposits. It has an incredibly clean salty taste. It is now my third most favorite salt and one that I put out on the table when there is a dinner…it makes a good conversation piece…here I have it in a crystal salt dish with a silver salt spoon. Apparently, at some of the toniest Japanese restaurants in the States, they come up to you after you get your teriyaki or grilled dish and scrape some pink salt off of large blocks of Himalayan salt! Up top are the Maldon flakes, my all time favorite salt, in jade salt dish with a mother of pearl salt spoon. They are best served directly on cooked food, like a sprinkling on a massive steak just as it is being brought to the table or on fine dark chocolate… But my second best salt is the fairly cheap Kosher salt in the large box in the photo…I like to cook with this salt. I am generally disappointed with local salts only because they are usually so wet, a result of poor manufacture and storage…all they need is a commercial dryer to suck out the moisture…but we do use a lot of it in our everyday cooking as well.

 

COMMENTS:

  1. edee says:

    i only use Maldon, don’t know when to use other type of salt, and i see loads here……maybe next time i’ll buy some and see for myself if i can tell the difference :)

    Jul 31, 2006 | 5:00 pm

     
  2. virgilio says:

    I didn’t know that making salt is such a tedious process until i saw how it’s done in pugos, ilocos sur. Using buckets as their containers, salt makers, in the sweltering heat, gather water from the sea and sprinkle them in the sand which they then boil later. It takes forever before they could produce some. The price for a kg was so minimal I don’t know if it’s “worth its salt”. Anyway, I brought back some to Vienna not because I think they taste better but to remind me of the hard work involved to produce a single grain of salt.

    Jul 31, 2006 | 5:40 pm

     
  3. Hchie says:

    How do you keep your salts dry in this humid weather? Would you believe we still use hundreds of sacks of sea salt yearly to make blocked ice here?

    Jul 31, 2006 | 6:27 pm

     
  4. Apicio says:

    A remnant of Canada’s recent rural past, Winsor Salt, the most popular brand available here use to package common salt blended with the correct (minute) proportion of MSG, sugar and nitrates which they call curing salt. Excellent for charcuitrie such as our homemade longaniza, tocino and tapa, and a truc learned from mother, for seasoning embutido (or anyother ground meat dishes) that does not turn unappetizing grey.

    Jul 31, 2006 | 6:45 pm

     
  5. millet says:

    when i was a kid, i remember there was a long stretch of las pinas (paranaque)that was all salt beds. and just last week, i read in the papers an article about the salinas salt springs somewhere in northern luzon (i forget my geography!). never tasted the salt from there, though. and you’re right, the regular rock salt in the groceries and markets is just too damp.

    Jul 31, 2006 | 6:46 pm

     
  6. Wilson Cariaga says:

    I really don’t know, but does different kinds of salt have diff. effects on food? hehe sorry, I just wanna know. . .

    Jul 31, 2006 | 6:54 pm

     
  7. Marilou says:

    Maldon salt is my favorite salt also. It’s great on roast meats. Specially roast chicken stuffed with lots of garlic, rosemary and a whole lemon and surrounded with some fingerling potatoes scattered with more of the whole garlic and rosemary drizzled with extra virgin olive oil sprinkled liberally with Maldon salt.Yum! Or sprinkled on plain soft cooked eggs eaten with toasted bread and Irish butter! I’ve been eyeing the Hawaiian salt on the grocery shelf too, maybe when I feel extravagant I’ll make a splurge. The Himalayan salt sounds interesting…I’ve looked at it once or twice but always put it back, maybe I’ll give it a try too. I lke the little wooden spoon that comes with it.

    Jul 31, 2006 | 8:10 pm

     
  8. Chris says:

    Hi marketman, where did you buy all those salts? thanks

    Jul 31, 2006 | 8:47 pm

     
  9. Marketman says:

    Chris, most of them abroad. But the Morton’s Kosher and iodized table salt I got at Rustan’s and at Subic. The Himalayan pink I bought in Italy. The Maldon in Spain (though it’s from the U.K.). Several of the french salts are from France on previous trips and the U.S… Some were gifts. Marilou, I like the little wooden spoon too. Wilson, not sure if the salts have different effects on food, but I know they seem to have different results on a human’s tongue…

    Jul 31, 2006 | 8:56 pm

     
  10. Candsmd says:

    I asked a friend of mine to buy Kosher salt as pasalubong during her trip to the US…only to find out you can buy from here (Rustan’s)…oops :-)

    Jul 31, 2006 | 9:46 pm

     
  11. Mandy says:

    we have a container of fleur de sel sitting in the back of the ref for the longest time (expiry 2008) — it’s been there ever since my dad brought it home for us. if i leave it out–will it melt? or if it’s in the ref, will it melt?? how do we use it? is it like when we need more salt on the food after it’s cooked then put salt? sorry, such silly questions. sayang naman the salt if we don’t use it, right.

    Jul 31, 2006 | 11:12 pm

     
  12. shane says:

    how fascinating it is to have so many varieties of salt…here’s a website selling different kinds of salt
    http://www.saltworks.us/

    Jul 31, 2006 | 11:26 pm

     
  13. lori says:

    I have an increasing number of sea salts in my pantry also, labeled and stored in pretty jars. My favorite one is from a reader from Slovenia — it’s crystal clear and flaky, and it just pops on the tongue. After reading this post, I’m glad that I’m not the only one with a salt fetish! :p

    Aug 1, 2006 | 6:44 am

     
  14. connie says:

    I only use Morton’s Iodized, Kosher and their Sea salt as well. I like using flavored salt too especially Celery salt and Cajun salt, the Cajun salt is good for french fries.
    For those wondering how to get the moisture out of the salt, try adding rice grains to your salt shaker, the rice will absorb the moisture. My mother in-law who lives in Florida thought me that, as it gets so humid there.

    Aug 1, 2006 | 6:59 am

     
  15. connie says:

    Shane, I just checked out the site. I am curious about the Truffle and Salt, as well as the Ultimate Artisan salt collection. I think my husband will kill me for spending $138 on salt though. LOL.

    Aug 1, 2006 | 7:07 am

     
  16. CecileJ says:

    MM, careful about the silver salt spoon. Might start another “fish pan” war! Don’t say I didn’t warn you….;)

    But putting that aside, it seems the ultimate in cooking that one has different salts to use for different food. Now if only us “poor folk” could afford something more than FVR salt(remember this?)! Hehe…

    Aug 1, 2006 | 8:40 am

     
  17. Marketman says:

    CecileJ, heehee, silver salt spoon purchased in Baguio several years ago, it’s sterling but cost about PHP200 only… not quite Tiffany’s! FVR Salt? Sorry, I missed that one. Gosh, you never know what gets reader reaction on this website…I had no clue so many people were curious about salt!

    Aug 1, 2006 | 9:04 am

     
  18. linda says:

    Pareho tayo,MM. Maldon is my favourite salt. This is the salt served in a bowl on our dinner table everyday. I just wish I had a mother of pearl salt spoon and that fabulous looking jade dish,too.

    Aug 1, 2006 | 9:50 am

     
  19. Mila says:

    There’s also a great book about salt, titled … SALT by Mark Kurlansky. More of a historical/anthropological take on how salt is used through history and in society. Plus he even mentions patis and bagoong if I remember right.

    I have table salt, sea salt, fleur de sel, and I stupidly gave away a bag of Hawaiian pink salt. Should have kept that bag!!!!

    Aug 1, 2006 | 10:16 am

     
  20. erleen says:

    FVR salt? I think that is the commercial with the jingle “Mag-iodized salt, mag-iodized salt, mag-iodized salt tayo!”

    yeah, rice on a salt shaker absorbs the excess moisture from salt. just pick out the rice that falls out when you use the salt =)

    Aug 1, 2006 | 10:35 am

     
  21. Marketman says:

    linda, the mother of pearl spoon was just 30-50 pesos at Balikbayan handicrafts on Pasay Road in Makati and other branches. The jade dish was a bit more…

    Aug 1, 2006 | 6:04 pm

     
  22. fried-neurons says:

    That’s a cool post, MM.

    I only use kosher salt or Mediterranean sel de mer for my cooking. Iodized salt I buy, but I only use it to scrub stubborn baked-on stains on my cookware, and to scrub the sink if it gets too icky. :)

    I also have a small amount of that pink salt you spoke about. Honestly though I don’t see what the fuss is all about regarding it, besides the cool pink color.

    Aug 2, 2006 | 8:40 am

     
  23. goodtimer says:

    whoa! got overwhelmed with all those salt choices. never knew it made a difference, i mean salt is salt and it just makes a dish well…salty. the only difference i see in salt is its appearance: fine, coarse, hard, soft, and yes, i do agree it’s infuriating when our salt gets mushy from humidity, although i noticed the salt sold in baguio market is drier and finer. it’s cleaner too and whiter in color, none of those black specks present in the rock salt sold in the markets in manila.

    Aug 2, 2006 | 2:19 pm

     
  24. Mitch says:

    My pantry may sometimes look forlorn but I never run out of salt. Yes, I do have Maldon, Fleur de Sel from Camargue, Gros Sel from Ile de Re.I thought I was too weird to have so much salt in my pantry. It’s my secret until now…

    Aug 2, 2006 | 11:50 pm

     
  25. ShoppaHolique says:

    Marketman, the Indian minimart along UN avenue (i think it’s called Assad) sells “black salt” but it’s coloured pink… any information on this?

    Aug 3, 2006 | 12:34 am

     
  26. sha says:

    market man my cupboard looks like yr collection here
    the himalayan i paid 4UK pounds…

    Aug 3, 2006 | 3:51 am

     
  27. Marketman says:

    Shoppaholique, no, I haven’t come across black salt yet…hmmm, now you have me wondering… sha, I paid Euro6 for the pink salt or about USD8.50…

    Aug 3, 2006 | 7:08 am

     
  28. izang says:

    my sister and I visited a newly opened store near the hap chan resto at the ground floor of market! market! called spices and flavours…their collection of spices were wonderful…literally up to the ceiling…..they have different salts but not the himalayan yet…wla p daw… and reasonably priced….they have coffee stirrers that are cinnamon sticks with sugar crystals…neat!

    i bought 100grams of star anise for only P27.00…they also have iranian saffron by the gram….we were like kids with a new toy!….check it out….

    Aug 3, 2006 | 12:47 pm

     
  29. Marketman says:

    izang, yes, I visited the store about a week or so ago after reading about it on Joey’s 80Breakfasts blog…I got those stirrers you mention and some other spices…it’s worth a visit, I agree.

    Aug 3, 2006 | 4:59 pm

     
  30. Rex Flores says:

    Here’s a cultural tidbit on the subject of salt: the province of Pangasinan derives its name from “Panag-asinan”, the pre-hispanic name for the region where salt is made (in the northwestern coast of today’s province).

    I once participated in a videodocumentary which brought us to the salt beds of Dasol, Pangasinan. Salt is manufactured by trapping the incoming tides on plots of brackish soil lined with shards of clay pots. These ‘salt beds’–oceanic versions of the inland rice paddy–impound the crystals that remain after natural evaporation. The resulting salt is then raked, gathered and refined through endless boiling and reboiling in huge conatiners over earthen hearths the size of cemetery tombs.

    Excellent-tasting sea salt at Php150.00 per sack!

    Aug 8, 2006 | 8:56 pm

     
  31. Marketman says:

    Rex, thanks for that “tidbit” – it is fascinating how salt is made and how reasonably priced it is considering the work that goes into it! I also had an earlier post on organic sea salt from Batangas… you can check it out here http://www.marketmanila.com/archives/organic-sea-salt if you are interested…

    Aug 8, 2006 | 9:46 pm

     
  32. Dodi says:

    Hi!
    FVR salt is local iodized salt from the Pangasinan province. I think it was being promoted way back during his term as containg the right amount of iodine and your kids msut take it , otherwise they become”bobo” due to lack of iodine!

    Aug 9, 2006 | 3:55 pm

     
  33. MAD says:

    I’m not fond of adding salt to my food but my latest “acquisition” is a pack of Hawaiian Black Sea Salt. They look pretty like black onyx crystals. I just sprinkle them on fruit. Other than that, it turns any dish black!

    Sep 2, 2006 | 5:43 am

     
 

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