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Hi, I'm Jaden, a professional recipe developer, food columnist and food photographer specializing in fast, fresh and easy recipes for the home cook. Most of my recipes are modern Asian! About meFast, fresh & easy recipes for the home cook.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Making Your Own Flavored Salts

Flavored Salts

One of the easiest ways to elevate your cooking to another level is to use flavored salts, or finishing salts. No recipe needed, really. Flavor + Salt = Flavored Salt. REALLY!!! I know you just had a V-8 moment just now (wow. that sure dates me. does anyone know what i’m talking about?!) My latest crush, Eric Gower the Breakaway Cook, writes extensively about finishing salts on his website and even gives you several flavors to try. I like to use these salts in place of regular salt – the flavor I use is dependent on either the type of dish I’m cooking, the ethnic cuisine or a flavor I would like to infuse in the dish. I call these Finishing Salts because most of the time, its exactly what I use them for.

Sometimes a dish just needs a little color after plating and a finishing salt is the perfect compliment flavor-wise and eye-candy-deliciousness-wise. Learn from professional cooks – who often serve food on white dinnerware – and sprinkle a little of your Finishing Salt directly on the food AND the plate. The vibrant colors are shown off against the white and your dinner guests can dab as much as or as little of the salt as they wish. You can make a batch for less than $1….or you could go to a gourmet shop and spend $12 for an itty bitty jar.

Szechuan Peppercorn Salt

Peppercorn Salts

Dry-roasted Szechuan or Sichuan Peppercorn + food processor to grind the peppercorn + sea salt. It’s spelled Sichuan nowadays, but for some reason I’ve always spelled it Szechuan. Anyways, spell how you like.

>>Edit: more detailed instructions: I roasted SZP in a hot, dry skillet until smoking but not burnt. Let that cool a little bit. Dump in food processor to grind to same size as your salt. Then you add your salt and pulse a just couple of times to fully incorporate the flavors together. I like my S&P a little chunky and not like a fine powder. I used equal amts of SZP and sea salt. You can adjust based on your tastes. If you are using a very fine sea salt or just regular table salt, decrease the amt of salt.

Peppercorn Salts

Szechuan Peppercorn is really not a peppercorn at all – its a berry from a bush that will make your tongue and lips tingle and numb when you eat them. Yes, its legal. No, you can’t snort it. When you dry-roast the peppercorns, your entire house will smell heavenly…woodsy, citrusy, earthy…so incredibly aromatic that Chef Kylie Kwong perfumes her restaurant daily with a hot, smoking, dry wok of roasted peppercorns. Add to any dish that needs a little kick in the pants. Cooking Chinese? Sprinkle some Szechuan Peppercorn Salt to finish any dish. I also love seasoning my steaks with this instead of the standard salt & pepper prior to grilling. This can also serve as a dipping salt for fried shrimp.

Fushia Dunlop even recommends using this combination on potato chips! Make them yourself (its very simple with a mandoline) and flavor with SZP Salt while they are hot. Or, dump a bag of your favorite plain chips onto a baking sheet + 375 F for 5 minutes, remove and sprinkle with SZP Salt. Ohhh…how about french fries with SZP Salt at your next dinner party? Nothing like watching the reaction of your guests as their lips tingle and they discover a new taste. You can buy Szechuan peppercorn at your local Chinese market or at Whole Spice, iGourmet, GetSpice (UK), Spice Barn and Spicehouse

When you get your SZP, take a couple of pods and chew – the tip of your tongue will go tingly! Cooking the SZP tames the pepperyness and the numbing quality.

Szechuan Peppercorn Salt

Citrus Salt

Citrus Salt

Grated orange peel + grated lemon peel + let the citrus peels dry a little bit on a paper towel + sea salt Think bright, cheery and light. Finish your shrimp skewers, any vegetables, grilled chicken breasts, grilled salmon with Citrus Salt. Lighten your risotto or steamed rice with Citrus Salt. I’ll be posting soon on a recipe I created, Panko-Crusted Grouper Cheeks with Japanese-Style Risotto and Citrus Salt. Long, fancy name for fish ‘n rice, I know. I need to shorten the name…just sounds too restaurant-y.

Matcha Salt

Matcha Salt

Matcha is Japanese green tea powder made from the highest quality of green tea leaves. Its a stunning and lovely mossy color which makes such a pretty finishing salt, especially if you use a white plate and also sprinkle some directly on the plate. Matcha powder + sea salt + couple pulses in food processor if you are using course sea salt You know what is so totally divine? Your favorite chocolate truffle or chocolate bar + dip in Matcha Salt. So very different! Eric Gower pairs it with eggs and tofu. Use with dishes that are light in texture and flavor, since this salt’s flavor is more delicate and subtle. It gives a beautiful floral, grassy, sweet and soothing aroma. You can buy Matcha powder at your local Asian market. Sometimes coffee/tea shops will carry as well. This is not the same as green tea leaves. Ask specifically for Matcha powder. Its a little expensive. I paid $7.50 for 1.4 oz jar at a Japanese market in Los Angeles (which will last me a long time as I only used about� 1 teaspoon in my mixture). Don’t get the super-premium stuff, it would be a waste to use the expensive powder for the salts. Buy online at Amazon (this is the brand I got). Use your leftover powder to make green tea ice cream. I have all three sitting patiently waiting for my next cooking adventure….you guys have any ideas for other flavors? What would you do with Chocolate Salt?

Flavored Salt



99 Responses to “Making Your Own Flavored Salts”

  1. Absolutely brilliant!

  2. mrshbt — 6/24/07 @ 2:57 am

    Dear Jaden,

    Where can I buy Matcha powder in the US?

  3. Suganya — 6/24/07 @ 3:27 am

    My question is same as mrshbt’s.. Where do i get Matcha powder? In Oriental stores? The other two salts are so doable. Thanks for sharing this with us. Did I say I love yr photos?

  4. Melinda — 6/24/07 @ 4:41 am

    Such good ideas and suggestions. Love the long named fish and rice dish with the citrus salt. You are very clever.

  5. wmw — 6/24/07 @ 6:14 am

    Gosh, you make your own salt? (well, not really from scratch…but your own finishing salt???) How cool is that! Makes me wanna chant “I’m not worthy” to you! ROFL….

  6. Lydia — 6/24/07 @ 6:53 am

    Wow, I’d never have thought of matcha salt! I have made pepper salt with Szechuan peppercorns, and lately I’ve been using a sea salt made by a Rhode Island artist who combines it with lemon zest and herbs from his garden (mostly rosemary) — it’s amazingly good on mild fish like cod, and on roasted vegetables like fennel. Thanks for the inspiration about matcha salt — I will definitely try it.

  7. This is such a neat post Jaden! I love the idea and the colors on those salts are gorgeous.

  8. Dilip — 6/24/07 @ 9:11 am

    great post…brilliant…many thanks for the learning experince

  9. The Cooking Ninja — 6/24/07 @ 9:16 am

    great ideas. Never thought of that. Thanks for the tips. :)

  10. SteamyKitchen — 6/24/07 @ 9:37 am

    GC- thank you!

    MrsHBT & Suganya – I’ve just added a link for Matcha resource.

    Melinda- Yeah, but I can barely say it in one breath!

    wmw- but I’m not worthy of your beautiful photography!! ;-)

    Lydia- wow, rosemary & lemon salt would be so good on fish.

    Ari- the matcha salt is my favorite color…its just such a unique color of green that I can never get from any vegetable on a finished dish.

    Dilip- thank you! good luck on your Feed A Hungry Child Project.

    Ninja- A flavored salt would taste and look really good with your gnocchi. Oh and just going through your site – Saffron & Cardamom Salt would be yum…

  11. Lynn — 6/24/07 @ 10:17 am

    Beautiful post and the idea of making your own flavored salts is wonderful. I know what my friends are getting for Christmas this year!

  12. Lucy Vanel — 6/24/07 @ 11:46 am

    Very nice idea, Jaden, I especially like the idea of perfuming the house with roasted szechuan peppercorns when cooking Chinese for guests. Hmmm. Getting some ideas here. Love the pots. Giving these as gifts is also a really great idea!

  13. evinrude — 6/24/07 @ 11:55 am

    This is so clever! I’m definitely gonna try it soon. Sounds good sprinkled over some salad or noodles. =) Anyway, is the SZP salt what we call Hua Jiao Yan ????? in Mandarin? Singaporean restaurants use it a lot with chicken or duck roasted to a crisp. Mm~!

  14. tigerfish — 6/24/07 @ 12:48 pm

    I never dream of making my own flavored salts. And absolutely a brilliant idea :)

  15. Thank you for posting these recipes because you reminded me that I must make my own. Instead of homemade jams, giving your own flavored salts will be valued as an original party favor or a hostess gift.

    I often buy flavored sea salts. Like you said, Jaden, they are great for plating a dish. They can enhance the flavor of a simple recipe. I use hibiscus sea salt with grilled asparagus and pine nuts. The color combination is stunning and it tastes great.

  16. JEP — 6/24/07 @ 7:27 pm

    Really enjoy reading & learning from your blog!

  17. V — 6/24/07 @ 7:57 pm

    Totally love your tip on various flavored salts!!!

  18. Sue Ann — 6/24/07 @ 8:56 pm

    I think that the chocolate salt would be divine on popcorn! I also agree that the finishing salts would make great gifts for many occasions. BEAUTIFUL PICTURES!

  19. SteamyKitchen — 6/24/07 @ 10:40 pm

    Lynn- great idea to give as gifts in little jars

    Lucy- i find most of my little pots, dishes and pans at Japanese kitchen supply stores. everytime i go home to visit parents in California, i add more to my collection

    Evinrude- yes it is the same

    Tigerfish- thank you! i think the matcha salt would go well with your soba and meatballs dish

    Kim- wow, I would never have thought to use hibiscus! that sounds sooooo lovely. I’ll have to search for a tea shop nearby to source dried hibiscus….or just be crude and buy a box of nice hibiscus tea and just use that.

    JEP & V- thank you!

    Sue Ann- POPCORN!!!! Thats healthy and lo-cal, right?

  20. Garrett — 6/25/07 @ 12:00 am

    LOL, we did both have matcha and chocolate on our minds! Love the salts. I blend salt and lavendar together for turkey and game birds. SO YUMMY!

  21. Steve — 6/25/07 @ 1:46 am

    It’s sort of embarrassing to admit, since it’s not nearly as fashionable as the salts you made (and in fact it’s a little too Sandra Lee), but I like to mix kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and Old Bay seasoning, and then dip hard boiled eggs in that.

  22. Amy — 6/25/07 @ 1:56 am

    This is a great idea! I love the sichuan peppercorn salt. It sounds really good on fried chicken. :P

  23. Carol — 6/25/07 @ 2:14 am

    Such Beautiful Photography, Jaden!

  24. Carol — 6/25/07 @ 2:15 am

    OMG! my comment actually went through!

  25. Carol — 6/25/07 @ 2:17 am

    yay! wordpress doesn’t hate me anymore! I was starting to feel quite rejected!

  26. Carol — 6/25/07 @ 2:20 am

    Sorry Jaden, I’m just making up for all the times my comment vanished into thin air. We’re back in business! Uber Cool Post!

  27. wokandspoon — 6/25/07 @ 2:26 am

    I’m too lazy to make salts as well but those photos were really inspiring! I’m not sure what the Matcha salt will taste like but it sounds like it will go well with a nice chocolate mousse!

  28. ilingc — 6/25/07 @ 8:14 am

    Jaden, It looks like you zested a whole lot of lemons from the look of that bowl of lemon salt. Boy are you patient. I get frustrated trying to zest 1 tbsp of lemon zest as it is.

    Have you tried sprinkling or mixing some szp salt on the dusting flour for fried chicken? It makes some pretty awesome fried chicken, gives it a nice little kick.

    ps. Love the photo of the salt bowls all lined up and the szechuan peppers photo.

  29. singleguychef — 6/25/07 @ 9:59 am

    What’s a V8?

    Ok, I have to ask…You have soooo many different bowls, plates, cups, glasses, etc. Where in the heck to you store these?

    These salts look wonderful. I’ve done something similar with sugars. :)

  30. great post~
    Great Blog!
    I’ll be back for more tips =D

  31. I guess I’m dating myself, but when you wrote V-8, I slapped my forehead. Wow indeed! The matcha salt sprinkled on chocolate is a wonderful idea. The possibilities are endless!

  32. SteamyKitchen — 6/25/07 @ 2:56 pm

    Steve- actually, I LOVE Old Bay…

    Amy- I’m going to have to try that on Fried Chicken…although I make mine baked fried chicken…or I could just do KFC takeout!

    Carol- Thank you! LOL! Yes, you finally came through!

    W&S- Matcha tastes like…um….hmm….I’m just going to have to send you some.

    ilingc- With my rasp grater it only took about 30 seconds per fruit. One orange and one lemon is what I used. If you use a nice sharp grater, it should take no time at all.

    SGC- Oh it was a commercial for V8 vegetable juice in the early 80′s where the guy in the commercial always slaps his forehead….I know…dumb…but it worked b/c 20 years later I still remember that damn commercial!

    Lisa – you and I are the ONLY ones old enough to remember!! LOL

  33. dawn — 6/25/07 @ 3:58 pm

    Really great Pics!

    Love the colors of the salt as well. It is really amazing how much salt can change your cooking!

    Nice work.

  34. Cynthia — 6/25/07 @ 10:36 pm

    This is a great idea. I already do some like a red chilie salt, cumin salt, black peppercorn salt and I do a vanilla sugar with vanilla bean. Thanks for your ideas – citrus zest etc. I’ll definitely make them and also experiement with other flavours.

    Your pics are so classy.

  35. Lucy — 6/26/07 @ 2:24 am

    Jaden, such a beautiful gift idea.

    Citrus salt – got myself a little weekend project now!

    Thank you.

  36. SteamyKitchen — 6/26/07 @ 7:49 am

    Dawn- I think I have a love affair with salt! Yes indeed it affects cooking. Now I need to figure out a way to lighten and flavor soy sauce, as that is my primary “salt” in Asian cooking but it is sometimes too overpowering.

    Cynthia- oooohhhh…..chilli salt!!

    Lucy- I just had the citrus salt over roasted carrots – it was a perfect combo. Left you a msg re: rosemary/citrus salt…though do you think the rosemary will discolor? Would you use dried rosemary?

  37. Ellie — 6/26/07 @ 8:58 am

    What a great idea! I’m going to have to try this out, and I can already imagine what I’d use each of these three salts for :D

  38. Pingback: Creative Loafing sarasota » the 941 » Blog Archive » Breakfast Links for Tuesday, June 26

  39. Big Boys Oven — 6/26/07 @ 11:33 am

    So luvly done, and yet so refreshing….!

    You know how to make me laugh over your writing. ……a very unique way style of writing.

  40. Lizzy — 6/26/07 @ 3:54 pm

    This is awesome – my mom just gave me some Italian salt that is divine. These look great as well and what a great addition to any meal. Great information!

  41. Lucy — 6/26/07 @ 6:15 pm

    Jaden, I think I’d actually use fresh – the oils are just that little bit fresher, and though the salt would probably turn out a slightly unattractive shade of green, it would taste wonderful!

    On carrots? Too gorgeous.

  42. SteamyKitchen — 6/26/07 @ 8:55 pm

    Ellie-You’ll have to post your photos and recipes….let me know when they are up
    Creative Loafing- Thank you for supporting my little adventure. You guys are awesome….bringing you some food maybe on Thurs.
    Big Boys- you guys just make me smile every time you comment. I LOVE bigboys + I love ovens, so therefore I love you guys.
    Lizzy- isn’t so grand to love something so simple as salt?!
    Lucy- I can’t wait until you try it on carrots. Love your site, it inspires me to eat more healthy.
    Sandi- thanks for coming by….please come back soon!

  43. Big Boys Oven — 6/26/07 @ 10:04 pm

    Well, big boys alway tell the truth and never lies!

  44. Anh — 6/27/07 @ 4:34 am

    Love these ideas! Especially the matcha salt… Uhm, let me think of how I can utilise these…

  45. MeltingWok — 6/27/07 @ 6:55 pm

    Jaden, I make my own sauce, but forgot how easy it is to make finishing salt. Thanks for all the ideas ! :)) I was thinking pairing chocolate salt, coke, and maltose rub over some meaty ribs for BBQ grill ? hehe :)

  46. Pingback: Szechuan Peppercorn Roasted Chicken « Jaden’s Steamy Kitchen

  47. lincoln — 6/28/07 @ 4:00 pm

    My name is Lincoln, I and my partner Clo Dimet, we have two restaurants in São Paulo – Brazil and a school of Kitchen, also we write our Blog for our friends and customers we like it its Blog and we would like to translate some texts for the Portuguese, would be possible?

    Peach !!

  48. boo_licious — 6/28/07 @ 4:02 pm

    I just picked up Eric Gower’s new cookbook at the bookshop this week and read abt his flavoured salts. Was tempted to get it and now my hand is itching with this reference abt flavoured salts. His first book was very good but this one looks much better.

    On salts, I’ve also made green tea salt before and sprinkled it on top of grilled scallops. Quite subtle the taste since green tea is not very overpowering. Will try and experiment with lavender salt which is one of Eric Gower’s suggested flavours in the book.

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  50. Lisa — 6/28/07 @ 8:01 pm

    Those are wonderful! And I got to have a head-slapping V-8 moment as well.

    Chocolate salt? Dude — caramel! Homemade caramel. Yeah.

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