It's safe to say that most cuisines as we know them wouldn't be the same if not for the presence of salt. Not only is salt one of the most abundant minerals on the planet, but it's also an essential nutrient. Despite the commonly-known "regular table salt," many other types come in different sizes (and even colours!). The right seasoning can take a dish to the next level, so take note of where these different sorts of salt come from and what foods you can use them on.
1. Table Salt
The majority of the salt people eat with their food comes from seawater sources and salt mines. Historically, salt trade played an important role in shaping civilization. Within the last century, however, most in the salt industry shifted to producing a wider range of salted products. Another recent development was the addition of iodine to table salt.
Not all table salt comes with iodine, however. Further, some companies also commercialize salt with a reduced sodium content which can benefit those looking to consume low-sodium diets.
True to its name, table salt is present in most dining establishments, dinner tables and kitchens. Table salt is a staple ingredient to nearly all types of foods across the globe. In cooking, it's the most basic way to season your meal, whether you're making pasta or salad. Even if you're baking sweets, most recipes call for a dash of salt to the dough or batter to enhance the flavor.
2. Sea Salt
Sea salt (also called "seawater salt") originates exclusively from the process of evaporating seawater and extracting the mineral. The key difference between this type of salt and regular table salt is that seawater salt isn't refined. Because of this, sea salt retains many additional minerals in its composition and makes for a healthier alternative as opposed to table salt. You can identify seawater salt by its comparatively large grains and crystals.
Despite its slight difference in appearance, sea salt is perfectly suited for most of the same uses as table salt. Depending on the size of the sea salt grains or how coarse they are, you may need a grinder. Aside from that, feel free to prep, cook and enjoy your food with sea salt just as easily as you would table salt.
3. Himalayan Salt
As it says on the tin, Himalayan salt hails all the way from Asia and is mined from the base of the Himalayas. Also referred to as "pink salt" or "Himalayan pink salt," it owes its distinct colouring to the presence of other minerals, most notably iron. Himalayan salt consists of bigger grains than regular table salt and is considered healthier to consume because it doesn't go through a refining process.
Some people notice a contrast in taste when trying Himalayan salt, while others do not. Although you can use Himalayan salt in pretty much anything, we recommend you try adding it to dishes with delicate, subtle flavors. Himalayan salt goes hand-in-hand with many seafood dishes ranging from steamed fish to shellfish. There are also a plethora of vegan and vegetarian recipes that call for Himalayan salt specifically, making it a popular ingredient for plant-based meals.
4. Kala Namak
Perhaps the most unique of any other salt is Kala namak, which is only mined in a handful of Asian nations. Unlike the other variants mentioned on this list, Kala namak not only looks different due to its dark spectrum of colour ranging from black to violet (it's also referred to as "Himalayan black salt") but also because it doesn't taste like table salt. Its umami-infused flavor is comparable to that of hard-boiled eggs.
Some approach spices by the effect they have on the body, namely, whether they produce heat or cold. Kala namak is considered a cooling spice in this sense and is used to counteract the effect of heating spices like cardamom, clove, cumin and mustard seeds, among others. In the mainstream, you'll also find it in many vegetarian and Indian recipes.
5. Seasoned Salt
Seasoned salt is nothing more than a blend of table salt with other minerals and herbs. Common additions include flavorings like paprika and other assorted spices.
Among seasoned salt's many qualities is its unparalleled convenience. This quick and convenient blend of minerals makes cooking certain dishes a breeze. When making roasted or fried chicken, French fries, bread and broth, just add a dash of seasoned salt and you're good to go.