Which Salt Should I Cook With?

You know, that is one of the questions I get asked all the time.

And you know what my answer is?

It really just depends…

Actually, I do have a recommendation in general. Do not use iodized salt. The iodine in the salt affects the flavor of your cooking, and usually not in a good way.

On a historical side note, salt started getting the iodine treatment in the 1920’s because there were some regions in the US that had an iodine deficiency. So unless you live in a region that is deficient, you don’t need the fortified stuff.
When I cook, at minimum I use plain salt… straight up NaCL… Sodium Chloride for you chemistry geeks!

So Chef, when I cook at home, should I use regular table salt or kosher?

Now a days, I use both. For many years, I used Kosher salt in all the kitchens I worked in, and I got used to the larger grain for seasoning. The thing you need to be aware of is the fact that the larger grain takes longer to dissolve, so you actually need to slightly underseason or your result may be too much salt. Use what you prefer.

But Chef, what about Ala’e or Hawaiian Salt?

Both are excellent to cook with, and it comes down to preference and experimentation. I like both because they have other minerals in the crystals than just sodium chloride, and that adds to the character of the dish. Ala’e also gives the nice clay like flavor from the soil that tints the salt red.

Okay, so what about sea salt or Fleur de Sel?

Sea salt is essentially the same as Hawaiian salt, just from different regions….

Now, Fleur de Sel, is a different thing… it’s the first crusting of salt that forms when sea water from Brittany, France is evaporated. Fleur de sel is beautiful, delicate salt and is used as a finishing ingredient. You can sprinkle it to finish salads, steaks, fish, etc. It will give foods a burst of mineral saltiness and crunch from the crystals.

My wife probably thinks I’m nuts, but I have table salt, Kosher salt, and both Hawaiian Salts that I cook with. The Hawaiian Salts I have in grinders so I can control the coarseness of the grind. I also have some fleur de sel.

Depending on which way the wind blows, I use the different salts. You may want to try it… It may make a difference!