If balsamic vinegar was the little black dress of the '90s, sea salt is the balsamic of the 00 decade.
It comes in fashionable basic black, or white, or grey.
Or pink, if that's your fashion statement.
It goes with, and on, everything, from cupcakes to crab cakes to coq au vin.
It's smooth yet crunchy, mild yet powerful. It's called a finishing salt, because it's usually added at the end of the cooking, but I think it's really because so many dishes are unfinished without it.
Like a clothes closet without a little black dress.
What is sea salt?
Crystals formed from the evaporation of ocean water, "flavored" with the naturally occurring minerals in the area where it is harvested. Because the crystals are larger than those of table salt, there are fewer crystals per teaspoon, resulting in less sodium than table salt by volume
How/where to store:
In a dry part of your cupboard, indefinitely.
More facts about sea salt, and ingredient photos, in The Perfect Pantry:
Sea salt (Recipe: pizza bianca)
Quick and easy Nutella and fruit turnovers
Store-bought Pepperidge Farm puff pastry and Nutella, two pantry staples, combine with fresh fruit and sea salt -- essential to balance the sweetness and enhance the flavor. Use any fruit that looks good at the market but is not overly watery; good choices include bananas, strawberries, kiwi, mango, pears, apples. Serves 4; can be doubled.
1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted according to package directions
2-3 Tbsp flour
1 small jar of Nutella (you'll use half of it)
Sliced fruit: 1 banana, apple, pear, mango, or 4 large strawberries
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water
Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a Silpat (silicone mat) or parchment paper, and set aside.
Unfold the puff pastry. Sprinkle your countertop with flour, and roll out the puff pastry to a square. With a sharp knife, cut the square into 4 equal pieces.
Spread the inside of each piece of pastry with Nutella, making sure to stay 1/2 inch away from the edge all the way around. Layer slices of fruit on one side of the piece, and sprinkle with sea salt. (Don't forget the salt; it brings out the flavors of the fruit.)
With a pastry brush, paint the edge of the pastry with the beaten egg. Fold the top over to meet the bottom, and press to seal. Use the tines of a fork to seal all the way around. Then, paint the top with the egg wash. Poke a hole in the top with a sharp knife, to allow the steam to escape while baking.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and pleasantly browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Other recipes that use sea salt:
Roasted kale chips with sea salt and vinegar, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Sea salt caramels, from Cookin' Canuck
Gluten-free crackers, from Gluten-Free Goddess
Chocolate cake with olive oil and sea salt, from Almost Bourdain
Sea bream in a salt crust, from Spoonful
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