cover image The Miracle of Salt: Recipes to Preserve, Ferment, and Transform Your Food

The Miracle of Salt: Recipes to Preserve, Ferment, and Transform Your Food

Naomi Duguid. Artisan, $45 (400p) ISBN 978-1-57965-944-8

“We have an intimate relationship with salt, grain by grain, in our fingers as a pinch, between our teeth as we bite into a crystal, on our tongue as it melts,” writes Duguid (Taste of Persia) in this mesmerizing mix of recipes and food history. She begins with salt’s effects on flavor and texture, which include tenderizing, muting bitterness, heightening sweetness, and strengthening the gluten in some doughs. Salt also acts as an antimicrobial and preservation agent by drawing out moisture, and intesifies a vegetable’s scent by “freeing aroma molecules.” There’s also a thorough guide to terms and salt types, which are becoming more accessible for American home cooks, such as “pinkish ‘rosada’ salt” from Peru, Indian “true” black salt, or red-tinged Alaea salt from Hawaii. Global recipes follow, from seasoning mixes to flavorful egg, rice, and meat dishes. Vanilla salt (fine sea salt plus vanilla pod seeds) and shoyu koji (homemade soy sauce, koji rice, water) are umami boosters, while salt cured seafoods and meats (gravlax, anchovies, shrimp, pork) can expand pantry options exponentially. A kimchi omelet calls for the homemade fermented cabbage with an extra sea salt dash, whereas lamb shoulder in the slow cooker employs salt-preserved lemons. Duguid makes a convincing case that instead of modern dispositions to simply “watch” overall salt intake, cooks can better learn to judiciously wield its flavorful powers. (Oct.)