03 Oct2007


For as long as I can remember, I recall my parents saying “you need iodine to avoid goiter…” what the heck is goiter, anyway? According to the Mayo clinic site, goiter is “an enlargement of the thyroid gland.” So in our household, iodized salt was a necessary ingredient (even though I did catch mom using plain sea salt in a lot of our food). Apparently, some natural sea salts can contain trace amounts of iodine, after all it is an abundant chemical in the sea… But for some reason, and there is a lot of history about those reasons on several sites on the net, iodized salt seemed like the best place to sneak that much needed mineral into our daily diets. This is similar to the argument that good potable city water should have flouride to help our teeth/bones, and now that everyone is drinking more bottled water, we all hope to get the flouride from our toothpastes instead…


If you have been reading this blog long enough, you will know I am a bit obsessive/compulsive about my salt. I know the base ingredient/chemical behind all salt is the same, and the taste should be the same too, but I am enamored with different kinds of salt and stock at least a dozen kinds at any one time, probably ridiculous I agree, but this is just one of my quirks. The shape of the crystals, the way it reacts with different ingredients, its various colors from black to grey to pink to white, and its source(s) like high up in the Himalayas, has always intrigued me. So on the drive back from Pagudpud, when we spotted several salt vendors roadside, we HAD to stop to buy some salt. It turns out that the local government mandates the addition of iodine to the locally collected and prepared salt. This sea salt is different from the ones directlly evaporated from salt water. Instead, this salt is cooked and the water steamed off, leaving the salt crystals. The salt is incredibly white and incredibly intense.

But I hate iodine added to my salt. It leaves a chemical flavour and if you use a lot of iodized salt, it really makes a difference to the final dish (try making tapa with iodized vs. not iodized salt to taste the difference). So I avoid iodized salt except in the finest table salts used in a salt shaker, and even then I would use that sparingly, instead putting out salt cellars with “good” non-iodized salt when guests are over for dinner. I wonder why the local government would mandate iodized salt when the province of Ilocos Norte is blessed with so much seafood and seafood is an incredibly good source of natural iodine… At any rate, I whispered conspiratorially with the Manang at the stand and she smiled, nodded, gestured to a young kid, and asked me to wait. Someone went off in a tricycle and a few minutes later I had 10 kilos of FABULOUS unadulterated Ilocos sea salt, without a trace of iodine, straight from the factory and just made that morning. Smell a big bag of iodized salt vs. the plain salt and you will always seek out the plain salt. I felt like I was buying contraband, but at PHP100 for 10 kilos of great looking and tasting salt, this was my buy of the day… P.S. This seems like a wonderful salt for a salt enrusted and baked lapu-lapu, yum!

For more salty adventures, check out these previous posts:

A Rant on Salt on Commercial Flights
Tarragon Salt
Different Salts from Around the World
Organic Sea Salt, Batangas



  1. Maria Clara says:

    Good to know our local government in Ilocos region mandates the enrichment of iodized salt. Good assurance Juan dela Cruz will get his daily dose of iodine. Salt is not created equal. Yes, I fully concur with you untreated salt is great for tapa, longganisa and Kapampanga delicacies fermented fish with rice (buro) and baked pastries, cakes and bread. I strongly favor sea salt for cooking as it perks up the food. It is like the power of Ajinomoto! The famous French fleur de sal is great addition to food just before serving. It loses its potency when stirred and cooked with the food just goes flat! When you store your salt ensure that you keep it away from silverwares or copper as will tarnish them.

    Oct 3, 2007 | 10:13 am


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  3. mudra says:

    I never thought there were so many kinds of salt! I’ve only known the rock salt and the iodized table version. Thanks for the info. It has truly been quite an informative and interesting blog! =)

    Oct 3, 2007 | 10:16 am

  4. Blaise says:

    We NEVER use iodized salt in our home.. And I NEVER had goiter..

    Oct 3, 2007 | 11:56 am

  5. ykmd says:

    Wow, that’s a really good price. Sea salt here is soooo expensive, sometimes a small glass container costs $11! I like having several different kinds too, and usually use my iodized salt only for baking. Do you do that too BTW? I’ve thought of using kosher or sea salt but the grains seem too coarse. Right now my favorite for cooking is a Hawaiian sea salt, and I’ve been using the Mediterranean sea salt grinder plus the Tellicherry pepper grinder (from Costco) for that “final touch” after plating the food.

    Oct 3, 2007 | 2:02 pm

  6. kongwi says:

    i still remember when i was young, our aunt who lives in paranaque would bring a sack of sea salt from las pinas everytime she goes home to pampanga, in exchange for gallons of nipa vinegar (aslam sasa)…i also remember going to paranaque and las pinas and see this salt drying beds…now all you see are subdivisions…the price we pay for progress indeed…

    Oct 3, 2007 | 2:39 pm

  7. Teresa says:

    Yes marketman, Ilocos salt is lovely salt indeed, so white with a characteristic coarseness to it’s own. You suddenly reminded me that i’ve ran out of it myself. I am wondering if ilocos salt is sold in any of the weekend markets – Salcedo, FTI, etc. Otherwise i have to wait for our next trip up North.

    Oct 3, 2007 | 2:54 pm

  8. The Cooking Ninja says:

    Where we live, we have some areas nearby where they make salt from the natural sea. :)

    Oct 3, 2007 | 5:13 pm

  9. Apicio says:

    I shall not dismiss your appreciation of the nuances in taste of variously sourced sodium chloride as dainty epicurianism as long as you do not write-off my obsessed quest for my coffee holy grail as sheer giddy lunacy.

    I heard once (actually from my mother) that Ilocos bagoong cannot be made with anything other than Ilocos salt.

    Oct 3, 2007 | 10:37 pm

  10. eej says:

    That’s a LOT of salt, MM! How long will it take you to use up the entire 10 kilos? I’m wondering since in our family of 3, it takes us over a year (14 months to be exact)to use up a regular box of 26 oz. Morton Iodized salt. I have a habit of writing down dates on the lid of the container when it is first opened.

    Oct 4, 2007 | 12:28 am

  11. joy says:

    Hi MM, I am from Cagayan way up north, our salt is made the same way as Ilocos salt.
    It’s salt crystals are halfway between the size of fine iodized salt like Mortons and the sea salts commonly sold in Manila. You could even say it was like the size of sugar crystals, as one of my cousins visting from Manila found out…
    He mistakenly added salt instead of sugar in his coffee, and spewed out the first sip he had of the concoction. =)

    Oct 4, 2007 | 1:24 am

  12. Ted says:

    Joy, that reminded me of a time when i was still in high school and was making “Tang” and i could not understand why it was salty, i kept on adding sugar to it and it keeps getting saltier ;-)

    Oct 4, 2007 | 6:38 am

  13. CecileJ says:

    MM, remember I asked you in a previous post why sea salt and you answered cos iodized has a smell (of iodine)? well, you are right! The latest bag that I bought does give off a strong iodine odor whenever I open the salt container. Reminds me of Betadine! Eeeuuuwww. Should secure some sea salt soon! :-)

    Oct 4, 2007 | 3:13 pm

  14. foodfarer says:

    I did a feature a long time ago on goiter–seems to be more prevalent among people who are far from the sea ie sources of iodine-rich seafood (not necessarily iodized salt). We went to the Mountain Province where we saw many people in the remote parts who had goiter. A lot of doctors in Baguio have become such experts at removing the growths. They work so fast because they’ve performed those operations several times already.

    Oct 6, 2007 | 11:48 pm

  15. baljit says:


    Feb 29, 2008 | 7:44 pm

  16. erick says:

    I have sea salt supply for sale in bulk volume please call me at +6323846599 and my mobile +639164345039 or +639283025833 or email mew at erick.blasa@gmail.com.

    Aug 19, 2008 | 3:20 pm


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