Fleur De Salt – A Product That Has Stood the Test of Time
Fleur de sel, or simply “flake of salt”, is a salty marine plant generally seen only in seaweed dishes. It’s an extremely pungent herb with a pungent taste (some compare it to cedar). It is native to Western Europe and the Mediterranean, but its traditional recipes were shunned by early sufferers of Mediterranean fever because of its contents (which include sulfates and lead). The term fleur de sel has since been adopted by Western cooks for use in a range of foods – with one notable exception: dried meat and seafood (as well as shellfish and other fish parts). But this isn’t the whole story. The salt’s pungent flavor is also attributed to certain minerals from the seawater, and to the fact that it is a naturally occurring element.
Like many minerals, the moisture content of fleur de sel varies greatly from batch to batch. As a result, a particular variety may have a somewhat different flavor than another variety. It is important, however, to read labels carefully to find the brand of fleur de sel with the highest moisture content, since these types are more expensive than other salts and are generally recognized for their distinctive flavor.
Fleur de sel originates from two sources, both from the Mediterranean. One is bulk dried seaweed (also known as “flashy”) which is commonly used as a cooking and baking salt. The other source is clay from the Red Sea. The key difference between the two is that seaweed is harvested more frequently and more productively than clay.
In order to achieve the maximal moisture content possible, cooks should soak their ingredients overnight in water that has been brought just below the boiling point of the water. The next day they should rinse the mixture and continue cooking with a little extra of the boiled water in order to maintain a high concentration of flavor. During the drying process the fleur de sel should not be exposed to air at all. This is because the flashiness of the product will diminish quickly if exposed to air, which speeds up the drying process. The dried products will then need to be wrapped and stored in dry, climate controlled environments for long periods of time.
Fleur de sel can be used in a wide range of cooking methods. Because of its pungent flavor it can be used in stews and soups, or as an ingredient added to sauces and dressings. For example, cooks have often used fleur de sel to create a salty-sweet flavor in their pasta sauces. It also adds a unique flavor to sea food such as fish and chips, or shellfish roe.
Although fleur de sel has become almost forgotten, it was in fact a favorite of the ancient Mediterranean world. Many dishes used it as an important part of the flavor and texture. It was especially popular with the Spaniards, and so was the flower of salt. Today, it remains a popular choice, although there are many new salts that have been developed to take its place.