Why Do TV Chefs Love Kosher Salt So Much?
You don't have to watch many cooking shows — or read many recipes — before you start to see that the cooking world has a really big thing for kosher salt.
I admit, it took a while for me to understand the allure of cooking with kosher salt, but eventually, it's become the only salt I even have in my kitchen.
Why Is It Kosher?
Maybe it should be called "koshering salt," because salt is already kosher. This salt got its name because because it's used to make meats kosher.
What Is Koshering?
Ok, I'm no expert on what's kosher, but I do know that to make meat kosher, it's covered in this salt, which draws out any blood near the surface, and then the salt is removed. Since kosher salt, as opposed to table salt, doesn't dissolve, it can be discarded at the end. The large, irregular shape of kosher salt is perfect for this.
What If You're Not Kosher?
Well, what makes it good for koshering also makes it great for cooking. It's like a dry rub—it sticks to the food and doesn't immediately melt. It's also something you can add without measuring, because it so easily pinches between your fingers. Try it. It really feels cool.
When Should I Use It?
- Seasoning Raw Meat. As said above, it not only seasons, but it chemically changes the liquid in the meat, improving flavor.
- Sauteing. As soon as vegetables hit the pan, I toss a pinch of salt on them. It's just easier than using a salt shaker.
- Dry Rubs. Since it doesn't dissolve as easily, it sticks to the surface, like a good dry rub should.
- Mincing Garlic. This might seem strange, but you'll often see chefs sprinkle kosher salt on garlic as they mince it. Salt draws out the juices of the garlic, making it mince more finely, and the big, sharp crystals of kosher salt help break it down. It's a double-whammy.
When Shouldn't I Use It?
That's easy: when you're baking. Here's why:
- Measurement. It takes more volume of kosher salt to reach the same weight as table salt, so they don't measure out the same. Since baking requires some pretty accurate measurements, it's best to stick with easily-measured table salt.
- Dispersion. Because of its shape, it doesn't disperse as uniformly through the flour, and it doesn't "melt" into a dough as easily. Remember why it's so good on meat? That works against it here.
- Deflation. Also remember how it helps "cut" garlic? It does the same thing to the gluten in a dough, causing baked goods to fall after they've risen in the oven.
If you're not already using kosher salt, then here's my tip: go buy some, pour it into a small crock with a lid, and set it by your stove. You'll be picking it up with your fingers and throwing it onto your food in no time, just like all those TV chefs.
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