Chefs also use salt for cooking, here’s how
Chefs also use salt for cooking, here’s how
Salt is one of the oldest cooking techniques due to the many advantages it offers: this is how chefs use it in their restaurants.
Salt is not only a condiment and a flavor enhancer but also a vehicle of heat, a cooking tool . It is probably, after direct fire,take advantage of the properties of salt to make it a cooking toolthe oldest and most popular cooking technique, both in the past and in the present. There are essentially two properties of salt : the first is that of transferring only the heat to the product, avoiding the exchange of materials, and this is why it is cooked in a salt crust, in salt paste or on a plate of salt in a pan. . The second characteristic, no less important, is its hygroscopicity so it is able to absorb water from food , making them more compact, seasoning them. In fact, salami is born in salt. The use of salt in cooking has therefore extended from a vehicle of flavor to a vehicle for cooking and preservation both on meat products and on fish, citrus fruits and vegetables.
- Gianfranco Pascucci – Plate of salt . Gianfranco Pascucci in his iodized suburb of Fiumicino uses a plate of salt as a cooking method for purple prawns . To prepare the plate you need coarse salt and fine salt in equal weight with the addition of water, about 200 grams for every 2 kilos of salt. The plate is then heated in a pan and the prawns previously peeled but not deprived of the head are gently cooked on top of it. The smoke generated by the burnt aromatic herbs finishes the work. A simple dish where the delicacy of cooking with salt preserves the taste and texture of the crustacean.
- Moreno Cedroni – Salt crusted fish . Salt crusted fish is a classic. This cooking method, which allows the fish juices to be preserved intact, is still practiced in most of the old-fashioned restaurants on the Italian coast. Moreno Cedroni, two-star Michelin chef at the Madonnina del Pescatore in Senigallia, says he was weaned to the sound of sea bass in a salt crust. It is he himself who reveals a couple of tricks for the correct success of the recipe: wet the salt with the egg white as, in its presence, from the color assumed by the crust alone, it is possible to guess the right cooking point; the layer of salt under the fish must be thin, while above it must be at least 2 cm thick. Of course, the salt and egg whites crust can be enriched with herbs and spices such as pink pepper, black pepper, rosemary and thyme.
- Antonio Gentile – Salt dough . Sometimes used as plasticine or placed by children, salt dough is an excellent cooking vehicle for meat, vegetables and especially fish as it is capable of retaining their juices. At the 47 Circus Roof Garden in Rome, resident chef Antonio Gentile and consultant chef Gabriele Enrico offer, among the latter, Sea Bass in salt. The salt dough with the addition of egg and flour acts as a wrap for the sea bass fillet. Once out of the oven, it is presented at the table. It is in front of the customer that the casket of pasta is opened and the fillet is presented together with other elements that change seasonally. In autumn it is served with artichokes, potato ragout, saffron sauce and salmon roe.
- Salvatore Tassa – Onion cooked in salt . Cooking in salt is also ideal for vegetables, especially onion. Proof of this is given by Salvatore Tassa, cook at the two Michelin star restaurant Le Colline Ciociare in Acuto. Here, his great classic is the fondant onion . It is a white onion, peeled but left with the skin still on, baked in the oven covered with coarse salt. The result is a dark onion that is emptied and stuffed with a puree of itself, invigorated by the flavor of the Parmesan. Salt and pepper and then a light gratin in the oven. That’s all. Cooking in salt preserves the truest and most natural flavor of the onion.
- Lorenzo Cuomo – Salt crusted meat . Just as there is a crust of salt for cooking fish, so there is a crust of salt for cooking meat. The technique is the same, in this case, however, it is necessary to sear the fillet of beef, pork or veal in advance, to seal the juices. It is then baked covered above and below with coarse salt moistened with water. So Lorenzo Cuomo, chef of the Re Maurì restaurant in Salerno, cooks the beef chateaubriand. In combination there is an apple, pineapple and plum chutney, ciambotta in foil and Bernese sauce.
- Cristina Bowerman – Water saturated with salt . The ideal cooking method for potatoes intended for dumplings is twofold. Either they are cooked in the oven covered with coarse salt, or in water saturated with salt, 80 grams per liter. In fact, it is the salt that guarantees a dry potato which will therefore require the addition of a few starches to the dough. The secret of gnocchi lies, in fact, in the low dosage of flour. Following this technique is the starred chef Cristina Bowerman who in her Glass Hostaria proposes potato gnocchi with sea urchins with black garlic bagnacauda, salted lemon, dehydrated tomato, edamame, truffle and squid ink bread crumble.
- Marco Claroni – Seasoned fish . Just as a pork ham exists, so can a fish ham exist . Just as the mullet and tuna bottarga exists, so can the swordfish or sea bass bottarga exist. This is how the Conserve and Seasoned platter at the Osteria dell’Orologio in Fiumicino was born. Here Marco Claroni fun in proposing t fish Aglieri alongside vegetable preserves, special breads, whipped butter and other condiments. Among the seasoned more interesting are the coppiette of prawns, the ham of swordfish belly and the frontal muscle of the tuna. Then again there is the turbot bottarga, mullet also in brine, swordfish and tuna alletterato. The principle behind the production of these cured meats is salt which, thanks to its hygroscopic qualities, absorbs the water present in the meat, making it more compact and concentrated in flavor.
- Daniele Roppo – Marinated fish . Balanced salt is a mixture of salt – mixed between fine and coarse – and sugar used to marinate fish fillets, generally of considerable thickness, such as salmon or tuna. Daniele Roppo, chef of the restaurant Il Marchese di Roma, in the hottest period of the year offers his customers marinated salmon in this way. It keeps it for a few days in salt and sugar flavored with spices and beetroot in order to give it a bright red color, aesthetically striking. In combination there is a sour sauce of passion fruit and mixed salad. The same balanced salt, enriched with pink pepper and anise, is used to marinate the tuna belly, to be served as if it were ham.
- Pierluigi Gallo – Brine . Like fish, meat can be treated with salt, either dry or in the form of brine. Chef Pierluigi Gallo of the Giulia restaurant in Rome subjects the diaphragm, also called pannicolo, of beef to a brine based on herbs and spices such as sage, rosemary, parsley, fennel and star anise and then lime, lemon, soy sauce and sparkling water. A balanced salt with Muscovado sugar is added to this aromatic liquid. The meat is left in this solution for 24/36 hours, depending on the thickness. Subsequently, when the meat has acquired vigor and compactness, it is cooked on the grill with charcoal, leaving it rare. Chef Gallo combines it with a cream of grilled carrots and a pomegranate reduction.
- Davide Caranchini – Garum of agone . Descending from the garum of ancient Rome, anchovy sauce is also obtained thanks to the presence of salt. The anchovies are placed in alternate layers inside a barrel, with sea salt, covered with a weight and left to ferment for 5 months. Subsequently, thanks to the action of the salt which facilitates the expulsion of water from the fish, a clear amber, umami, savory liquid is released. This same technique is applied to the agone, a freshwater fish similar in omega 3 content to blue fish, by Davide Caranchini, chef of the Materia restaurant in Cernobbio. Davide, who entered the Under 30 list according to Forbes in 2018, extracts a garum from the bones and the entrails of the agone and uses it to whip the Felicetti linguine with butter andamchoor , an Indian spice obtained from mango peels. This is not the only example of garum on the Materia menu: there is also that of lamb associated with its raw meat with beurre blanc, cucumber, sesame and caviar.
- Carlo Cracco – Marinated egg . Eggs can be cooked not only in water or oil, but also with salt. Carlo Cracco conceived a cooking, or rather marinating, which was revolutionary at the time. A mixture of coarse salt, sugar in a lower percentage, and bean purée is prepared. The egg yolks are left to marinate in this mixture. Time is related to the degree of compactness you want to achieve: the more time you sea, the more the yolk will compact and lose liquids. A long marinated yolk can be used as bottarga, to be grated on a pasta or salad; a marinated yolk for a few hours can instead be used as a cream to spread on a crouton. Cracco also uses these marinated yolks as if they were sheets of dough to be rolled out to make spaghetti.
- Filippo Benedetti – Preserved lemon. Lemons can also be cooked from salt. Marinated lemons are increasingly popular on the menus of avant-garde restaurants. From a typically Middle Eastern product to a fundamental ingredient to give cleanliness to a dish, fermented lemons are obtained from the conservation of lemons, left intact but engraved at the apex, in jars, or even better vacuum-sealed bags, with 2% salt. Chef Filippo Benedetti, of the Rude di Centocelle cocktail bar and restaurant, uses the juice derived from lemons both in a savory dish based on roasted octopus with ginger with pea cream and basil oil and in a dessert. In the latter case there is a puff of American potatoes and cocoa beans to recreate the layers of puff pastry and then custard with ricotta flavored with fermented lemon, lactic, acid and fresh at the same time.