Essential fairy dust for chefs

2011-09-16 08:08

Salt has been spicing up our food for time immemorial.

One of the oldest biblical blessings was to bestow salt and bread as gifts for a newborn child. The expression “salt of the earth”, which is used to denote something of great worth, is well known, as is the superstition of throwing salt over your left shoulder to ward off evil.

Before refrigeration came along, salt was used to preserve food and is still used to do so to this very day – biltong, herring, bacalhau and so on.

Salt is found in all our bodily fluids, including tears, blood, saliva and sweat.

We know that the Egyptians used it more than 5 000 years ago as salt was found in funeral offerings.

It was so valuable that Roman soldiers were paid in salt – the term salary is derived from it.

In medicine, a saline solution intravenously inserted contains no less than seven different kinds of salt, all essential to the smooth operation of our bodies.

Today, most commercial salt contains additives to make it whiter, flow more freely and to stop caking.

Millions of people are turning to natural salt and to so-called gourmet salt. There are hundreds of different varieties, each with a special attribute.

Cape Town chef Luke Dale Roberts from The Test Kitchen, who will be visiting Joburg for the Good Food & Wine Show next week, says the ingredient he can’t live without is salt.

He will be cooking a few of his signature dishes at the show, including tongue, scallops and beef tataki.

Foodies will get a chance to cook along and ask him about his penchant for the ancient condiment.

Another Cape Town chef, Craig Cormack, has turned his passion for this staple ingredient into a novel food and wine pairing event.

He has developed a menu using interesting salts paired with the right kind of food, accompanied by suitable wines from Fleur du Cap at Die Bergkelder in Stellenbosch.

A typical menu would start with a salmon sandwich paired with Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Sauvignon Blanc, followed by stir-fried, Asian-style pork doused with Merlot.

The main course might be salt-encrusted line fish, baked and deliciously moist, paired with an unfiltered white blend.

The finale would be a decadent dense chocolate tart with salt nuances and rich lemongrass ice-cream, accompanied by Fleur du Cap’s award-winning tangy Late Harvest.

» Luke Dale Roberts will be appearing at the Get Fresh with BBC Lifestyle Theatre at the Good Food & Wine Show on Thursday, September 22, at 1pm. The show runs at the Coca-Cola Dome in Joburg from September 22 to 25. Book at Computicket

» The four-course Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Wine Tastings are on September 29, October 27 and November 24 at Die Bergkelder in Stellenbosch 0?021?809?8025 or email

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