Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sel Gris - grey sea salt en francais

Toss the iodized salt once and for all.  Sea salt has a wonderful flavor without a nasty metallic after taste.  I did so years ago and am glad I did.  The last year or so has been experimenting and tasting different salts.  The all are salty but some do a much better job of brining out the natural sweetness and depth of flavor in your food than others.

I first heard about "sel gris", literally "salt gray" in french several years ago as that is what chef Michael Chiarello uses, liberally.  His show "Napa Style" started out on FoodTV and now has moved over to the Fine Living Network.  Its good viewing though at times his parties in the vineyard are so far fetched for us regular folks.

I've sorta half-assedly look for the stuff and stumbled across a jar of "Sel Gris aux Herbes" at Surfas a while back.  (Literally Salt Gray with Herbs.)  I grabbed a jar a few weeks back and only recently decided to crack it open and wow...what a different level of flavor it brings.

I used it with some vegies I sauteed to put with some couscous.  The "Sel Gris" was tossed on the hot veg just before I added it to the cooked couscous and folded it in.  Wow.  Just plain old wow.  Yes you got little bits of salt that just exploded with herbal goodness and a "sweet" finish.

Next experiment is on some Sourdough bread I am baking at the moment.  

Doing a little research I found out that "Sel Gris" is actually a very healthy salt.  It gets it dark gray color due to the high mineral content in the salt.  Those trace minerals also are what we need in our diet.  Getting them naturally has to be way better for us than getting white salt that has been "iodized".  Am not an expert but that is my take on what I've read.  If I'm wrong then I may have kicked off a good urban legend.

If you can't find it locally you can always order your own stash at Surfas Online. will be allowed to use a good kosher salt for general baking, cooking and pickling, sea salts are way too expensive to use for the general stuff, they are a finishing salt.


Janna said...

Do you use flavored finishing salts with your cooking?

I ask as my partner and I hand-craft a unique range of flavors in Seattle that we sell at a local farmers market.

The Almond Cardamom salt would be a lovely accent to your sourdough bread. Though Nicoise Olive is our most popular. Take a peak if you're curious.



frazgo said...

Janna, great stuff on the link. My mind is all a whirl. I bookmarked it.

I haven't tried using the flavored salts in cooking, but then again I only recently grabbed the sel gris aux herbes I wrote about here. So far I've used it as a finishing salt at the end where it would either compliment what is already in the dish or on the bread. I liked the results.

Your idea for other flavored salts on a bread has me thinking too. Experimentation time coming.