What do you know about Aromatic Salt and how to make it?
Photo: "The flavours of Tuscany" La bistecca alla fiorentina page 145
The smell of the Tuscookany aromatic salt makes your mouth water even before you start cooking! Read about the best combinations and have fun experimenting!
Salt is no joke, let me tell you that. Italians say il cuoco lo fa il fuoco, which means the fire is the real cook (i.e. use it carefully, it’s like a musical instrument, not a simple tool), but if that is true salt is certainly the waiter. It carries the flavour to the table, it defines whether or not you will have a good experience and, if it wants to, it can really mess things up. I will try quite hard to forget those who add salt to the dish before tasting it, a severe crime punishable by a portion of bad pasta in Italy. Seriously, do not do it. This said, I will insist in reiterating that salt has a soul and a purpose, which is not simply to make things… well, salty.
Did you know that certain molecules in our dishes find an easier way to the air thanks to our special waiter? You could almost say it helps define the strength of the aroma, and if you have ever been at an Italian grandma’s house on Sunday you might know a powerful aroma is a quasi religious experience. As a matter of fact, taste is partially defined by the smell. Also, salt balances sweetness and sourness (e.g. a pinch of salt in your cake, hello?) and can suppress bitterness. Do you still think salt is bland? Yes? All right. Then, let me introduce to the ultimate salty experience: aromatic salts.
Lemon, Orange Or Tangerine?
Choose your tone, get ready and grate it! You can go with lemon peel or orange, or maybe tangerine if it is the right season. What matters is that you only need 1 fruit for every 3/4 spoons of coarse sea salt. Suddenly, in no time, you will own a weapon to turn a white meat, crustaceans or any fish-based meal into a symphony of citrusy, salty notes, which is basically the Mediterranean itself.
Lavender, Oregano Or Rosemary?
I am thinking about mixing salt with fresh lavender flowers or maybe some dried oregano or rosemary. A favourite at Tuscookany is a mix of rosemary, sage and garlic and coarse salt placed in a food processor and ground down. Place it in a jar and use it whenever you feel like it. Sprinkle it over your roast vegetables before putting them into the oven or sprinkle over your roast meat or steak or just add to your soup. You can rest assured that your neighbours will suddenly pop into your house, finding whatever excuse to spend time in your culinary sanctuary. It happens all the time at our Tuscookany villas, and the aroma is to blame! It attracts people like a magnet. It’s simply irresistible.
Spice and Mix It Up
Here is where is gets funny. Go crazy. I am serious - just open your fantasy. Chili pepper powder with rosemary and salt? Someone told me Simon and Garfunkel used to make aromatic salt with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme… but I haven’t checked yet. Quite simply, you cannot go wrong, as long as you make sure you are using salt and not sugar. That would be bad. Now, are you still thinking salt is bland? No? I knew it!