Chemistry

Natural Salts

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 August, 2011, 12:00am

Le Guerandais Fleur de Sel de Guerande

Guerande is a town in Brittany, northwest France, famed for its Fleur de Sel, the delicate 'flowers' formed atop a salt pan. These soft grey particles, halfway between flakes and crystals, are collected by hand by a co-operative in Guerande that covers 2,000 hectares of salt marshes. The result is a delicate seasoning with a hint of the ocean and a lingering roundness that makes it a good way to top off a slice of bread with unsalted butter.

HK$75, City'super, citywide

Organic Garden Coarse Sea Salt

These chunky smoky grey crystals are from local Kampery Group, an organic farm and green food importer. This salt from China is guaranteed to be free of all artificial colours, flavours, preservatives, pesticides and so on, and has a simple, light taste. While the grains are too large to be sprinkled directly over food, they would work well as an everyday salt when crushed or ground, and with a distinctive crunch. Whole grains could be left to slowly break down in home preserves.

HK$10.50, Great Food Hall, Basement, Two Pacific Place, Admiralty

Murray River Gourmet Salt Flakes

This salt comes from underground saline water from the Murray-Darling region, in the northwestern part of the state of Victoria, Australia. Here, inland salinity is a real environmental concern, making it an eco-friendly choice. Its distinctive blush pink hue comes from the minerals sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron. Dissolving almost immediately on the tongue, these feathery flakes have a subtle flavour, but add a light umami - known to some as 'savouriness', the fifth flavour beyond salty, sweet, sour and bitter - or a comforting meaty fullness to any savoury dish.

HK$68, City'super, citywide

Maldon Sea Salt Flakes

These large dry shards of natural white salt are named after the historic salt-making town in Essex, in the southeast of England. These flakes come from saline waters of the River Blackwater - sun and wind cause the water to evaporate, then it is further heated and reduced, to leave flaky, pyramid-shaped salt grains. A quick crush between the fingertips will make it even easier for the salt to dissolve.

It not only enhances flavours but adds a layer of interest for the palate, thanks to the salt's minerality, especially in baked foods, such as pizza crusts. Whether or not salt needs to feature in a dish, this makes a great addition to the everyday pantry. No wonder it is endorsed by so many chefs, celebrity or otherwise.

HK$31.50, Taste, citywide

Amabito No Moshio

This powdery, warm, grey salt with fine but distinct grains is from the tiny island of Kami-Kamagari, with an area of less than 20 square metres, that is part of the Hiroshima prefecture in western Japan. It is produced using a method derived from ancient Japanese 'salt ash', which incorporates salt crystals formed on seawater-drenched seaweed. The process is less haphazard today, and uses relatively untouched waters that surround the island - the Seto Inland Sea - which are infused with seaweed, to give it a sharp, multifaceted flavour, with an almost acidic, peppery spark. A small pinch would work well to finish off something citrusy, like poached asparagus with lemon zest and pepper.

HK$52, City'super, citywide