Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Tale of Two Salts

I’ve been promising to do this video for a long time, since not understanding the difference between regular fine table salt, and kosher salt in a recipe, can cause all sorts of mayhem when cooking. 

Since chefs use kosher salt almost exclusively, and write many of the recipes you see online, that’s the type most often used. When you combine that with the fact that most home cooks typically use fine salt, there’s going to be issues.

Basically, if it’s not a recipe you can season “to taste,” and you’re using fine salt for a recipe that calls for kosher, then you’ll want to use about half the amount. Of course, it would be nice if every recipe were written in weight, but that’s not about to happen, and besides, there are already a trillion recipes out there.

So, why do chefs like kosher salt so much? It’s easier to handle, and doesn’t clump like fine salt. That’s big in a moist kitchen. It’s also nicer looking when finishing plates, as you can actually see the flaky crystals. Lastly, it’s a textural thing, providing a little crunch on occasion. By the way, there are different kosher salts, and other coarse salts on the market, but you can find all kinds of conversions online to fine salt. Good luck, and as always, enjoy!

xx

25 comments:

Frank said...

Well, I guess it's my turn.
Chef John, you are the salt of the earth.

Robert Oakwater said...

So what you are saying is that it makes a lot more sense to give amounts in mass rather than volume? I wonder if they do that somewhere... :-)

shlaubach said...

I think it's great that you finally posted something basic like this. Whenever the recipe has several reviews with negative comments on the flavoring, it makes me shake my head. It just depends on individual taste. We, who are cooking, get to control that.

With that said, I'm still trying to find kosher salt here in Germany but now that you mentioned all salt is the same I should just stick with the available salt here.

Leo said...

What a great illustration of the radical difference between the applications of the two salts. Now, here's a question to follow up: Is there a difference between the two (and himalayan salt) in how they penetrate, say, meat?

Robin Betts said...

Sometimes, when I'm seasoning, especially long and slow stuff, I can't resist sticking the spoon in again. Then I season some more, because I've got used to the saltiness, and I wind up with the right amount of salt for someone who has tasted it 20 times, but the wrong amount for everybody else. Nice tip, ( thanks to Blumenthal ) Keep back some of the unseasoned mixture to remind yourself, and taste that, too.

alw said...

I've always taken it on faith that table salt with Iodine adds a "chemical" taste to certain "delicate" foods and one should always use kosher salt. You're causing me to question my faith!

Luke Ebhert said...

Don't you use fine salt when baking?

Scott Barber said...

Thanks, I needed that !!!

arwiv said...

Maybe its in my head but I definitely think regular iodized salt has an off taste to it. I feel better spending the 1 extra buck a month for sea or kosher.

alfredo molina said...

Nice information!

Chris K. said...

But... but what about my $20/oz. hand-harvested Chilean salt? It has minerals and impurities and micronutrients that impart a subtle yet unique flavor (or so I was told)! Are you saying it just tastes like... SALT?

Maybe I'll just take your advice with a-

Spiral Painting said...

Hey there great vid as always Chef, but I have a question.
Does koshèr salt have a different name in the U.K. or will any coarse ground salt do? I'm partial to smoked sea salt in my cooking but just thought to ask .

inchrisin said...

Thank you Sensei John. I always like these technique vids that you do. Lots of helpful knowledge.

Moses Jurassic said...

While it is true that it doesn't matter which salt you use in a soup or a stew, it really makes a difference when it comes to very delicate ingredients like raw fish or poached eggs. The standard table salt tastes much more salty and will quickly cover the surface with a salty film. Larger salt crystals, on the other hand, will keep intact. You will have areas that are not salty at all und spots that are quite salty and have a nice crunch (especially when using Maldon salt).

And yes,please don't use volume measurements. I'm from Germany, and I will never understand that cups are used to measure e.g. flour, water or rice. Mass is far superior. A professional baker would never ever use cups or measuring the ingredients.

Julianne said...

Thank you! That was so helpful!

Toni Baloney said...

Thanks for this. I actually knew how to use different size salts, how they measure differently etc., but what I didn't realize is that "salt is salt" and they all taste the same (unless its smoked or seasoned in some way, of course). I actually thought Fleur de sel was something superior/special, including its taste, and lugged a big bag of it home from Paris. Oh well.

P Lusardi said...

This was incredibly helpful, however please tell us you threw some over your shoulder when you cleaned up after that video. That is really important. Take it from an over the top superstitious Italian...seriously you have to do that.... If you didn't do it now!

Mark Leggett said...

Hi Chef John
In Australia I have never seen Kosher salt for sale.
We use something called "cooking salt" It's a coarse granule salt with a really strong flavour.

Is that similar to Kosher salt?

Keep up the good work.
Made the Panna Cotta yesterday. Wonderful!!

Le said...

From my experience, Morton's kosher salt is saltier than Diamond Crystal's salt if that helps anyone.

Nicki said...

The wish is granted! Long live Jambi.

http://www.genuineideas.com/Assets/imageassets/SaltComparisonSm.jpg

J said...

I wish I could "like" Frank's post.

Chef John, YOU ARE the salt of the earth.

ha ha ha

John G said...

I keep coarse sea salt on the stove for flavoring, and kosher salt on the work area for seasoning. I do have "table" salt it is strictly for wine spills on the carpets.

DnR's MOM said...

WOW!!! You are now a Mental Floss cited expert!!! Kudos to you!

La La in the Library said...

I had this posted to my Home and Gardens page, but everyone was complaining about the audio being too low volume, so I listened and I agree. I had to delete it.

Mohamed Atrouz said...

If all salts taste the same then why do you keep using the kosher salt, if it doesn't improve the flavour then just use plain salt, it's cheaper and less people are going to mess up the recipes.