favorite things: maldon salt

Oh, how can I express my love and devotion for this pure, flaky sea salt? It’s nearly impossible to put into words, but the late, great Pablo Naruda somehow managed to depict these feelings beautifully in his ‘Ode to Salt’:


This salt
in the salt cellar
I once saw in the salt mines.
I know
you won’t
believe me,
but
it sings,
salt sings, the skin
of the salt mines,
sings
with a mouth smothered
by the earth.

….


In its caves
the salt moans, mountain
of buried light,
translucent cathedral,
crystal of the sea, oblivion
of the waves.
And then on every table
in the world,
salt,
we see your piquant
powder
sprinkling
vital light
upon
our food.

Dust of the sea, in you
the tongue receives a kiss
from ocean night:
taste imparts to every seasoned
dish your ocean essence;
the smallest
miniature
wave from the salt cellar
reveals to us
more than domestic whiteness;
in it, we taste finitude.



Perhaps Pablo Neruda also tasted Maldon Sea Salt in all its glory? After all, the family-run company has been around since 1882… and for good reason. There’s no doubt that salt brings out the flavor in food, and no salt does it better than Maldon. These translucent, inverted pyramid-shaped, crystal flakes made from sea waters off the coast of Essex seem to sparkle at first glance, and when you crush these delicate flakes in between your fingers, you can just imagine the wonders they’ll do in your mouth =P It’s great for cooking, but as a finishing salt, it’s simply sublime. I use it for making vinaigrettes and sauces like chimichurri, and sprinkle it onto steaks, fries, fish & chips, ravioli tossed in olive oil, fried chicken, fried calamari, fried zucchini blossoms,… basically anything that needs a salty, yet loving punch and of course, anything fried =P

Since Maldon Sea Salt is imported, you won’t be able to find it in the states for cheap… be prepared to shell out at least $5.99 for an 8.5-ounce box at Whole Foods. I was at a seafood market in Santa Monica the other day and they were selling each box for $13! (Just a little FYI, Le Bon Marche, a high-end food market/department store in Paris, also carries Maldon salt. I bought myself a box that lasted me the entire nine months I was living there, and for just a little over 2 euros, it was such a steal!)

My taste buds have definitely been spoiled by Maldon salt, but it’s neither economic nor wise to use it for everything. For larger tasks, like salting pasta water and brines, I go to my three-pound box of Diamond Crystal’s Kosher Salt, which I can get for $2.50 =P You definitely don’t want your precious Maldon salt to go to waste! After all, Maldon salt is chef-renown not just for its pure and natural flavor of the sea, but also for it’s unique, ultimately satisfying, crunchy texture. Next time you’re in the mood to fry up some chicken or put a steak on the grill, get yourself some Maldon salt, crush some of these flaky crystals in between your fingers onto the meat before serving, and be prepared to wow your taste buds ;)


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