Salt and pepper are essential in the almost every cuisine around the world. Whether they’re nestled tableside at a restaurant or sitting on top of your kitchen counter, this dynamic duo packs a necessary punch into any dish. But do you know why they call it kosher salt? Are peppercorns related to chili peppers?
YOU SELL 90 DIFFERENTS KINDS OF SALT. WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE JUST STARTING OUT OR ON A BUDGET?
Basic kosher sea salt is a real necessity. If you’re on a budget, look for a fine kosher sea salt that works for both cooking and finishing. If you want to take it one step further, Himalayan salt makes a great finishing salt. It’s mined in the mountains of Pakistan and contains about 80 different minerals.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A FINISHING SALT?
Finishing salt is used to top off your meal after the food is finished cooking and is being plated. That little crunch of the salt creates a nice mouth feel, whether it’s a larger crystal or a flaked sea salt.
SOUNDS LIKE TEXTURE IS A BIG THING WITH SALT. BUT CAN YOU TASTE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SALTS?
Yes. Salts harvested from the Atlantic Ocean are very salty. For example, Cornish sea salt from Cornwall, England is especially salty. It tastes like getting hit by a wave. But French grey sea salt is much less salty.
It all depends on the amount of saline, which will give it a different flavor. If you’re using a good salt, you don’t need to use a lot to achieve the flavor you’re looking for.
WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH KOSHER SALT?
There are no rabbis involved. It simply means it’s a pure, unadulterated salt, without the added iodine found in some other salts. It’s confusing for people, but it’s shorthand for pure sea salt.
Often times, kosher salt is a little bit coarser than table salt. There are differences even within kosher salt, as it depends on where it’s harvested. Pacific kosher salt tastes less salty than Atlantic kosher salt.
IF YOU’RE GOING TO INVEST IN FANCIER FINISHING SALTS, HOW DO YOU KNOW WHICH ONES TO USE AND WHEN?
Think about how salty you like things and how big of a flake you’re looking for. What kind of experience do you want to have in the mouth? It really depends on your palate.
Personally, I like to sprinkle finishing salts on beef and fish. I’m inspired by the fresh grilled fish in France, which has a lot of crunchy, big sea salt flakes on it. Another fun option is the Cyprus sea salt, which is made up of these beautiful pyramid-shaped crystals. You don’t need to use much because its flavor dominates.
WHAT’S THE BEST BASIC PEPPER?
Black pepper, or black peppercorns, specifically Indian Tellicherry peppercorns are the best standard. It has a nice heat but isn’t overpowering. It’s also not too expensive.
IS IT BEST PRE-GROUND OR SHOULD WE INVEST IN A PEPPER GRINDER?
It’s truly better to invest in a grinder. When you buy it pre-ground, the flavor starts to dissipate after a few months. But if you do need to buy it ground, buy a smaller jar so you’re not stuck with something you are constantly shaking because you can’t really taste it. (Check out Confetti Kitchen’s pepper grinder recommendation.)
With a grinder, you can also adjust the texture. For example, with fish, you may want a very fine grind, but with beef, you may want a bolder, coarser grind.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PINK PEPPERCORN AND A BLACK PEPPERCORN?
Peppercorns, no matter what their color, are all from the same peppercorn plant species. Their color just depends on where they’re grown. Also, the peppercorn plant is not related to chili pepper plant.
Black: Black peppercorn is grown in several places around the world. It is the standard black fruit that is then dried and then ground into pepper as we know it.
White: White peppercorn is just black pepper with the shell taken off. It often tastes a little spicier. It’s used a lot in French cooking because people don’t want to see the black specks.
Green: A milder version of black peppercorn.
Pink: It’s the fruit from the Peruvian pepper tree. It tastes like a little fruity berry, not really spicy. You could put it on a cupcake or in a sauce for filet mignon.
WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR SOMEONE WANTING TO EXPERIMENT WITH PEPPER?
I would splurge on a white pepper. And if you only have one grinder, you can buy it already ground. If you can, try a taste before you buy because some white peppers are more bitter than others.
Put your new salt ‘n pepa knowledge to good use. Add a little something extra to our Cumin Flank Steak Tacos or Roasted Veggie Quinoa Bowls. Share a photo of your creation with us on Instagram using #confettikitchen!
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