Salt…we can’t live without it, yet when I grew up, there was only one salt on the family dinner table…..you know the one: the blue canister with the little girl holding a yellow umbrella. Finely processed, iodine added and well, just salty, but not very flavourful. Of course, as a kid, we weren’t supposed to care about flavour, just eat what was put in front of us. Many doctors in recent years have advised people to eat a low sodium diet, especially for those especially prone to heart disease. Now, I don’t profess to be any expert on the subject, but I have purchased and used the non-salt alternatives and in my opinion, they just cover up the fact that there is no salt in them.
In recent years, fortunately, I have discovered the wonderful world of salt and there are many of them out there. Not too long ago, I purchased salt samplers from Salts of the 7 Seas (see their blog on WordPress) and was delighted. I received salts from Australia, Peru, Bolivia, France and Hawaii. Mexico, Japan, Indonesia and Cyprus were also represented, as were many more, including one of my favorites from the Himalayas, Tibetan Rose. My spice shelf now holds 68 types of salts from around the world, including some blends and infusions.
With 3,425 cookbooks now in my library, and 68 different types of salt, I have found it enormously fun to pick a salt from a particular country, match it with a cookbook from that country and prepare a meal. My ever-patient husband has patiently humoured me with my cookbook passion and can now look forward to flitting around the globe come dinnertime. I usually give him some advance warning and let him know we are flying to some exotic location for dinner, asking him to make sure his passport is in order. Last week we drove to Mexico for Margaritas and then jetted off to Nepal for dinner.
‘Tibetan Rose’, or Pink Himalayan salt is wonderful and comes in a variety of forms: one can purchase it coarsely ground (like a finishing salt), finely ground, or (see photo), in chunks, which can be grated. The Himalayan salt blocks are now hugely popular, and in a recent day trip to Santa Fe, I purchased a small one (about the size of a brick).
So, follows a great recipe using pink Himalayan salt, from ‘The Nepal Cookbook’, published by The Association of Nepalis in the Americas’ (New Age Books, 2003):
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped
3 small cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 green chilies (optional, but I think they should be included!)
juice of 1 small lemon
1 lb. chicken breasts, bone removed and cut into small, flat pieces
1 medium egg, beatn
salt (try the Himalayan pink salt)
oil for frying.
Place ginger, garlic, onion, chilies, lemon juice and salt in a blender and make a paste. Pour over chicken and marinate overnight in refrigerator. Lift out chicken pieces, dip in egg, and coat both sides with bread crumbs: then fry in oil until golden brown. Serve warm.
Be adventurous….try different salts. Many specialty stores in most large cities carry at least one or two, where you can purchase small samples for tasting and there are multiple on-line companies as well. You’ll never know what you missed all of those years!