Food for Thought: Salt

It has been one of the world’s most valued commodities for more than 2,000 years and it’s only recently that we have started to distinguish our pink salt from our table salt.

Salt has taken Venice from financial uncertainty to economic prosperity, helped the Dutch bankrupt Spain and, more recently, brought international attention to the Murray River and its ability to produce some of the finest pink salt the world has ever seen. Just three simple ingredients are needed to make salt and Mother Nature provides them all: water, sun and wind. Although salt has one of the most natural beginnings, it is now considered one of the most sophisticated ingredients in the gastronomic world. In fact, many great chefs believe that seasoning your food correctly is one of the most crucial aspects of cooking or, more importantly, the lack of seasoning results in uninspiring food without balance or flavour. Mastering the art of seasoning food starts and ends with salt but not all salt is alike… Plate of Salt Fleur de sel (flower of salt) is the queen of all the salts and its quality is world-renowned. It was traditionally processed by hand, scraping the top crust that formed on the salt ponds in Brittany but similar styles of fleur de sel are popping up all around the world, including right here in South Australia. The flakes are light and crunchy, pure white in colour and have a clean but delicate taste of the sea. I use my fleur de sel sparingly (mainly due to the price) but it is best sprinkled on at the last minute, where it will provide a hint of salt and a little crunch – perfect on a generous portion of room temperature butter for the table. Table salt is my least favourite salt; it is generally highly processed, iodised and has anti-caking agents added. Iodised salt tends to be the most commonly used in our kitchens but due to a resurgence in alternatives, perhaps natural salt (the way nature prepares it for us) will make a come back. The lightly rose-hued pink salt has been one of the most popular salts recently. Its colour, a naturally accruing result of the environment in which it is harvested, creates not only that unique colour but a salt that is jam-packed full of natural minerals and elements. We love our salt and use it in abundance around the world but the true test will be if we can get educated enough to use the right salt for the right application. Its role in society may have changed but its place in the food scene has never been stronger. Trout

Salt-Baked Rainbow Trout Recipe

This looks really hard to do but it couldn’t be easier. When you have a fresh fish, there is no better way to prepare it. Serve with a creamy potato salad and green leaves. Ingredients

  • 850g to 1kg rainbow trout
  • 1 lemon (sliced)
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 cups fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds

Method

  1. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of sea salt until light and fluffy.
  2. Fold in two cups of sea salt and the fennel seeds until well combined.
  3. Place a third of the salt slurry onto the base of a baking tray. Try and roughly follow the shape of the fish to create a bed for it to sit on.
  4. Place the fish on the salt.
  5. Place lemon slices in the cavity of the trout.
  6. Gently cover the fish with the remaining salt slurry, leaving the tail exposed.
  7. Bake at 200 degrees for 20 to 35 minutes or until the salt is set solid and lightly brown. If unsure, less is better, so pull it out of the oven and leave it to rest; the steam will continue to cook the fish.
  8. Use the back of a spoon to crack the salt crust and expose the fish. Gently remove the skin and slide the fish away from the bones to serve.

More information Keep an eye out for the smaller producers when it comes to choosing your salt. It just so happens we are lucky to have one of the best producers right here in SA. Olsson’s Sea Salt: an incredible range of sea salt, macrobiotic salt and salt rubs. Available at good independent supermarkets and grocers Fleur de sel: I buy my favourite brand online at Simon Johnson. However, this comes with a warning, the Salted Butter Caramels on the same page are addictive! simonjohnson.com @annabelleats

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