Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Culinary Throwdown: Take Pride In Your Sodium Chloride

The lovely La Diva Cucina is hosting the current Culinary Throwdown, ... and the theme is SALT.

My schedule lately hasn't allowed much culinary exploration, so I went a little nerdy on ya.

I know, ... what a surprise ...

The ribs on Katies plate are flavored with Kosher salt and other seasonings, but if I could only have one, I would keep the salt and lose the others.

I am a late comer to the world of Kosher salt, which is merely a coarse, large grained salt. I had to buy some last year when we made the amazing Dinosaur Barbeque Pickles. After the pickle making, it sat there in it's box, awaiting the next batch of picklemakingmadness, when I happened to catch Bobby Flay cooking steaks on some foodnerd network.

He liked Kosher salt, thyme, and black pepper on his steak.

I tried it and now, Kosher salt and coarse black pepper are all I need on my steak. I'll save the thyme for gumbos and chowder.

Next to the ribs on Katie's plate is a pile of our family recipe, Selmo's salad. The dressing is a family heirloom, with some neat history, and contains no salt.

Instead, you salt the salad just before dressing it. In fact, the word "salad" literally means "salted greens".

Here too, salt is essential, although, I use regular table salt, since I want the salt to dissolve.

I can't tell you how many times someone has said to me, " I tried to make that Selmo salad dressing at home, but it doesn't taste as good as yours."

To which I always reply, "Did you salt the salad first? "

"Well, no, ...mumble, mew,mew whimper ... it seemed like a lot ...whine, whine ..."

"Ya gotta salt the salad ... WELL! Now, GET OUT OF MY SIGHT, YOU RECIPE DOUBTER!"

Salt is amazing stuff when you think about it ... combine a poisonous green gas (Cl) that would corrode your lungs in a single inhalation, with a highly reactive metal (Na) that explodes on contact with water, and you get a harmless seasoning (NaCl) to sprinkle on your popcorn.

Chemistry is wonderful!

...Yes, salt is harmless.

It's not the salt in your food America, it's the AMOUNT of salt in your food. Quit eating at fastfood restaurants and you won't have a salt problem. They dump it in and call it flavor.

Case in point ...

As a teenager, I remember working at the Maryland Fried Chicken restaurant in Crescent Beach , south of St. Augustine. We marinated the chicken pieces overnite in a "SECRET" blend of spices.

The SECRET seasoning mix was surprisingly uniform and white. It was salt, with very little else.

Did the chicken taste good?

Heck yeah!

Did a single chicken breast have a days worth of sodium in it?

Heck yeah!

Point is, if you stay out of certain restaurants and avoid processed ready made foods, you can afford to sprinkle some salt on your steak or your fresh salad and not worry about your blood pressure shooting up to danger levels.

In fact, salt is a necessary nutrient,

Katie's plate of food is not the only salty thing in the top picture. My baby girl contains about 7 tablespoons of salt in her perky little self. This would be in the form of sodium ions and chlorine ions dissolved in her blood and cytoplasm.

Perhaps the second best use of salt, besides making sweet people like Katie possible, is the recipe for seawater, 35 parts salt to 1000 parts water.

No salt, no Gulf of Florida ... and that, would be a very sad thing.


cinbad122 said...

I know a Salty Dog! ;)

Thunder Dave said...

you forgot to mention that in addition to the sodium salts in the body we also have potassium, phosphorous, and other salts which help to do such things as regulate heart rythm and aid in other vital organ function!

BTW - we're using sea salt now instead of kosher salt, no particular reason!

Sandcastle Momma said...

Very interesting and that plate Katie's holding looks REALLY good.

Will you share the Selmo recipe?

My entry is up too.

Anonymous said...

FC-I can't get over how much Katie looks like her mother! The never before seen on the blog Mrs. FC! Some of us are lucky enough to know this great woman, please tell her hello for me!

Caroline said...

My 9th graders take their physical science test today on the Periodic Table, elements, compounds, etc. I think they'd rather deal with the NaCl on your ribs, than the NaCl on their test papers. :o)

Dani said...

I love it! Awesome job on the throwdown!

Wasn't there one picture of Mrs.FC way back when on the blog with Ranger puppy giving her sweet kisses?

Anonymous said...

Hi Fc,

Like Thundar Dave I use sea salt which I love. I like it a bit coarse. It gives a burst of flavor when you chew.

You mentioned that you used to reenact. Do you know a guy named Jerry from the sandhills in Williston? I went to Bushnell one year with a friend to watch him. Interesting day!

WV- derabill


Howya doin'?

Sorry, couldn't resist!!


Floridacracker said...

Aye, matey!

I wasn't showing off, Mr Godlike-smartypants.
I haven't jumped on the seasalt wagon yet, or pink Himalayan salt, etc.

Did so, just search the blog.

Will do. You are supposed to say she looks like me.

No doubt. Ribs hold a bit more fascination.

Wow Dani! You have an awesome memory!

I guess I will now have to try seasalt.
I don't know him. I did 1740's Spanish Colonial as part of my NPS job at the Castillo ... and it was a LOOOOONG time ago.

lisa said...

I went to using sea salt! I love using kosher salt in my cooking though. I could never do without my salt! Take care and great post!

TROLL Y2K said...

Very edumacational entry. Chlorine is my fave element! A lot of more upscale restaurants also use WAY too much salt-and-butter out of laziness!

Dinosaur pickles?

Nancy Ortiz said...

My advice is to use Kosher salt and nothing else. Why? You will see the larger particles of salt and not salt your food so much. Better, cleaner taste, generally.

Also, regular granulated salt typically has iodine in it which gives it a slightly chemical taste. No good!

Always put salt and black pepper on your meat before cooking, no matter what method you use. Who said to do that? Why, none other than the great Julia Child said to, that's who. And, Bobby Flay, Emeril, Paula, and Martha Stewart follow Julia's advice. So, once agin, FC, you show that us Crackers has class. You're definitely worth your salt, FC!

robin andrea said...

Excellent advice about fast food and salt. And I had no idea that salad meant salted greens. I love the things I learn from blogs!

moi said...

You know what I like best about this post? It's like a high school science class lecture, only one that is actually so interesting and fun that I TOTALLY forgot to get bored and secretly paint my nails under the desk.

Great job; thanks for participating!

Buzz Kill said...

I agree with Nancy O on the use of Kosher salt instead of the regular granular salt. The thing you have to be careful of is that when you are salting to taste, you have to make sure it desolves all the way or you could oversalt.

I like using dry spice rubs with Kosher salt. I think it helps keep the juices in the meat. And I'm curious about the salad dressing recipe too. But it sounds like a closely guarded family secret. Enjoyed the post.

threecollie said...

That was a darned interesting post. right with you on the fast food and salt thing. One of those marathon Potsdam trips....the offspring stopped at the golden arches in Tupper Lake. I do not eat their burgers...but I did. It was so salty that even the bun burned my lips. Wonder if they marinate THEM overnight?

Allison said...

Good info!!! I agree about staying away from fast food or processed foods so that you can add a little to your own cooked foods.

Fun post!!

Floridacracker said...

Thanks! Another vote for seasalt!

Thanks, Yes pickles from the Dinosaur Barbeque cookbook. Search this blog for a post.

Well, if it's good enough for Julia, it's good enough for me!
Thanks for the insight! I'm worth my salt ... hmmm 7 tablespoons ... about 3 cents maybe?

I learned that salad bit by researching this post!

God, I hope my students feel like you!
LOL! Thanks for that compliment. You MAY do your nails now.

I've linked to the dressing recipe post now so go check it out.

Soccer is driving me to eat at fast food spots more than I would choose to do. Blecchh.
Yesterday's BK chicken sandwich was so hideous, I just rewrapped it and took it home to Bear.

The salad dressing recipe is now linked.

Floridacracker said...

Welcome to Pure Florida! Glad you liked the post!

LaDivaCucina said...

Haha! I could SO identify with what Moi said...hehe, doin' nails under the desk, how very Diva-like!

I LOVED this post and your scientific take on it. Yes, Americans DO get in trouble by not only eating too much restaurant food but too much processed food as well. Also, if you salt at the table using sea salt (I like Maldon) a little will go a long way.

And I agree on the salting the salad! People should not fear the salt! That's what we Italians do. I also lightly salt my tomatoes before going into the salad as well. And my salads taste great, never had a complaint about "too salty" at my house! The dressing sounds great, tarragon is a classic salad dressing ingredient.

Oops. almost forgot about the ribs and cute kid! Plate looks Soooo good!

Thanks so much for participating FC, great post and So informative!

Floridacracker said...

La Diva Cucina,
Thank you for the invite! I was just talking about your steak recipe. I have to try that.
PF readers, if you haven't dropped by LaDiva's, go there now and check out her post.
I have to go back myself and take a few recipe notes!
Glad you enjoyed my post!

Robert V. Sobczak said...

The day I quite using the salt shaker a month later I could finally taste my food. I enjoy an occasional McDonald's cheeseburger and small fry.

Hurricane Teen said...

Loved this! So awesomely nerdy!
My friends and I have been planning since last year to build a (small) rocket with a capsule of sodium in the nose cone, and then launching it into the water at the beach to observe the effects...or we could just place such capsules in the toilets near the Chemistry Department x-D Can you say "atomic toilet?"

Aunty Belle said...

any post wif' yore Katie in it is a winner!

Great commentary, FC.

Thunder Dave said...

I think Lightnin was trying to be kind to Katie, not you! ;-)

Julie Zickefoose said...

We're hooked on Himalayan pink salt. Dunno if it's that much better. We just like it. Maybe we just like to grind big chunks of it right on our food. It could be as simple as that.
Thinking about it, that's not very green of us, is it?