Spices

An Ancient Product

The Netflix documentary “Salt Fat Acid Heat” with Samin Nosrat follows the theme of her outstanding cookbook, reviewed below. In the first episode, Nosrat visits a site on the tiny island of Kami-Kamagari located near Hiroshima, Japan. There in 1984 archeologists discovered a salt making pot dating back to the 3rd century. Intrigued, some islanders set about to re-produce the earliest known sea salt using methods from centuries past. A company, Kamagari Bussan, was established 1998. Even using more modern methods of production, only 440 pounds of Amabito-No-Moshio is produced each year. The process involves evaporating sea water, drying seaweed on the beach, infusing the water with the seaweed and then cooking the salt mass in large pots over an open fire.

Salt is salt; it’s just sodium chloride. But the saltiness of the crystals varies greatly, so too their size, touch and feel (read the book). This salt has a beige color and a bright saltiness with notes of minerals, which are said to include calcium, potassium and magnesium. What is truly unique about Moshio is its fine grain–almost ash-like. Indeed Moshio is sometimes referred to as salt-ash. I really like it.

I’ve been into salt and its various shapes and intensities for decades. Of the four salts I use, Maldon and smoked have large flake crystals that are less intense–both great for salads and for garnishing. Morton Sea Salt in fine grain and quite intense for everyday seasoning. Mushio is very fine grain and very intense–for fish, shellfish and meat, Not for salads. Where Mushio is really brilliant is on popcorn, best salt ever Period! (BTW, popcorn too goes back a few thousand years.)

Morton, Maldon and smoked salts are readily available. Mushio can be found on the Internet at www.chefshop.com and other sites abroad.

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