Olive Magazine

Types of salt: guide to varieties and how to use them in cooking

Published: February 19, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Learn how rock salt, sea salt, fleur du sel, pink salt and British salt are made, then try our delicious salt and chilli squid recipe for dinner

Jeffrey Steingarten’s book It Must’ve Been Something I Ate set out to see if ‘gourmet’ salt tastes better than table salt. He concluded that once dissolved into food it was impossible to detect one from another.


However, the texture it adds when sprinkled over food is a big part of its appeal... read our guide to different types of salt varieties below.

Rock salt

Rock salt is mined from underground deposits formed millions of years ago when inland seas gradually dried up.

Sea salt

Sea salt is formed either when sea water trapped in salt pans evaporates creating very salty water which starts to crystallize (natural sea salt), or by evaporating the water by heating it (man-made sea salt). Salt can also be evaporated from lakes of brine inland.

Fleur du sel

Fleur du sel are the crystals that form on the surface of the water in salt pans. They are fine and crunchy and dissolve quickly. If left, salt crystals will continue to increase in size forming pyramid and box structures or flat flakes.

Those that sink and have contact with the bottom of the salt pans, such as sel de guérande from France, can take up trace elements from the lining of the pans, often clay. Others take on colour from algae. Available on Amazon or Ocado.com

Mined salts can be pink

Such as himalayan rock salt, or black in colour like the Kala Namak mined in India. Himalayan salt is often mined in blocks and steak restaurants use it to line rooms where they age meat. Available on Ocado.com

British salt

British salt includes Maldon made from sea water from the river Blackwater in Essex; Halen Môn from water around Angelsey; and Cornish Sea Salt from the Atlantic Ocean off the Cornish Coast. steenbergs.co.uk and the spiceshop.co.uk sell a good selection.

Salt and chilli squid recipe

chilli flakes 2 tsp

salt flakes 11/2 tbsp

corn flour 3 tbsp

ground black pepper

small squid 400g (keeping the tentacles)

chinese black or red vinegar for dipping

step 1

Crush the chilli flakes with the sea salt flakes with and stir in the corn flour and lots of ground black pepper. Clean 400g small squid, keeping the tentacles.

step 2

Open out each tube down one side and score the inside lightly in a criss-cross pattern. Cut into roughly 5 x 5cm pieces.

step 3

Fill a wok 1/3 full with oil and heat until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds. Dip the squid pieces in the flour and fry for 2 minutes or until golden.

step 4

Drain on kitchen paper and serve with Chinese black or red vinegar for dipping.

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