Worth his salt: A chef's edible keepsake - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Worth his salt: A chef's edible keepsake

Updated: Sep 8, 2011 04:22 PM EDT
© Damon Mattson / Bonnier © Damon Mattson / Bonnier
  • Past stories from SaveurMore>>

  • From Western waters

    From Western waters

    A drive along Oregon's coast reveals soaring sand dunes, enchanting fishing towns, and some of the most memorable seafood dishes you'll likely find anywhere.
    A drive along Oregon's coast reveals soaring sand dunes, enchanting fishing towns, and some of the most memorable seafood dishes you'll likely find anywhere.
  • Crawfish: Born on the Bayou

    Crawfish: Born on the Bayou

    Called both crayfish and crawfish, these tiny freshwater cousins to lobsters are firm and sweet. Plunged into boiling water, they cook through in just two minutes and easily soak up any seasonings, from classic Cajun spices to Asian-style ginger and garlic.
    Called both crayfish and crawfish, these tiny freshwater cousins to lobsters are firm and sweet. Plunged into boiling water, they cook through in just two minutes and easily soak up any seasonings, from classic Cajun spices to Asian-style ginger and garlic.
  • Fabled feta cheese

    Fabled feta cheese

    Just a crumble of feta's pungent, salty flavor enhances dishes from stuffed peppers to salads to savory tarts.
    Just a crumble of feta's pungent, salty flavor enhances dishes from stuffed peppers to salads to savory tarts.


By Todd Knoll


I grew up in Hawaii, on the south shore of Oahu. The waves come in clean and rough there; seawater collects amid lava rocks and heats in the sun.

Walking among the pools as a kid, I could see the salt forming. I'd scoop it up and take it home. It had an umami flavor from the red ogo seaweed in the tide.

A few years back, I started harvesting sea salt to use in the kitchen at Jordan Vineyard & Winery in California's Sonoma County, where I'm the chef.

The first time I tried it was in Naxos, Greece, during the summer: It was so hot, I just left the seawater outside to dehydrate. Four days later, I had big dusky flakes. The salt had a smokiness that was great on lamb.

For me, harvesting sea salt is a way of extending the concept of terroir; the salt takes on the character of the waters it comes from, and it pairs beautifully with local foods.

Off Kauai, Hawaii, the sea is iron-rich; the salt adds meaty notes to pork dishes.

In Baja, Mexico, I collected crystal-clear seawater while fishing; the resulting salt was pure and briny—perfect to cure and grill the mackerel I caught there.

Making salt is easy enough, and if done properly, it's safe. I stay away from storm runoff and collect in areas where the sea is pristine.

First, I boil the water for a minimum of six minutes to kill bacteria. Then I set it in a nonreactive shallow pan in the sun to slowly dehydrate. That way, I get large, natural crystals, which add beautiful texture to dishes.

If I'm in a rush, I boil out the water on the stove; the crystals end up smaller, but the flavor is the same.

I love it because it's a living souvenir of my travels; every one of my salts has a story. I've even taken to mixing the salts with other ingredients, like dried tomatoes or juniper. 
 

  • Worth his salt: A chef's edible keepsakeMore>>

  • Salt of the Earth

    Salt of the Earth

    Everything on the planet tastes better with a little salt. Click through for recipes and tips on using this universal flavor.
© 2012 SAVEUR
All rights reserved.
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.