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Finishing Salts

Updated on September 17, 2014
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Jeff Johnston is a medieval reenactor and avid history fan. He is also the publisher at Living History Publications.

Make Your Recipe Pop

Salt, the simplest of seasonings without it food would be dull, and preserving would be infinitely more difficult. Salt gets a lot of bad press of late, but with the right salts you can bring out complex flavours and add a visual pizzazz.

Reducing salt intake is a good idea, but cutting it out all together makes for bland food. Plain table salt works to a certain degree, but if you want to lessen your salt usage without sacrificing flavour then using specialty salts means you boost flavours while using less salt over all.

Himalayan Pink Salt

When you think about specialty salts Himalayan pink salt is probably what you think about. Its a classic salt that goes nice on pretty much everything. This salt can be bought large rocks or in more standard ground format.

Hawaiian Black Lava Salt

Hawaiian black lava salt has a nice subtle smokey flavour. Very nice on beef. The rich dark colour comes from lava flows. The salt adds an interesting colour component to a dish with dark flakes of salt.

Hawaiian Red Salt

This salt is also from Hawaii, but this is a completely different flavour. Hearty and robust flavour. The bold red colour stands out on any plate. The colour comes from iron oxide infused into the salt. This one lacks the smoky flavour that the black has, but don't mistake that for less flavour, this salt packs just as much punch.

French Grey Sea Salt

This is one of my personal favourites of all the imported salts. The light grey colour is from a mix of minerals found along the Atlantic coast in Britanny. This is one of the most flavourful salts I have ever used, and I highly recommend it.

Cyprus Flake Salt

Sometimes a nice salt isn't only in the colour but the size of the crystals. This Cyprus flake salt contains large crystals that appear as flakes, can mimic snow flakes and add a visual flare to your dish unlike anything else.

Seasoned Salt Blends

In addition to interesting imported salts you can also use unique salt blends, onion or garlic salt is a prime example of these. It doesn't need to end with those however, all sorts of interesting seasoned salts can be made or purchased pre-made. If you wish to make your own seasoned salts you can use one of the recipes below or simply mix your favourite flavours with salt and allow to sit infusing the flavours into the salt.

Chili Lime Salt

Chili Lime Salt has all the great Mexican flavours you'd expect from chili and lime. Make sure you let it sit for at least a month to the flavours really infuse into the salt.

Cast your vote for Chili Lime Salt


  • 1 kg Sea Salt
  • 2 dried Chili Peppers
  • zest of two limes


  1. In a coffee grinding add the two dried chilis and generous amount of the salt. Blend well until the chili and salt are in a powder form. scrape out all the powder into a mixing bowl, make sure you get all the powder, some will stick to the sides, this is from the chili oils seeping out.
  2. Do the same process with the lime zest.
  3. Mix both the chili and lime salts together with the rest of the salt stir and put in a sealed container for at least one month.

Chili Salt

If you like a little extra kick to your salt this will do it for you. The result is a lovely pink salt flecked with striking red flakes (depending on how well you grind the chili) and seeds.

Warning; the fumes kicked up while blending the chili is extraordinarily tough to handle.


  • 1 kg Sea Salt
  • 3/4 cup of dried chili peppers


  1. Use coffee grinder or spice grinder to grind the chili into a powder with a handful of salt.
  2. Mix the powdered chili and salt together set aside in a sealed container for at least a month to allow the flavours to blend fully.

Rosemary Sea Salt

This finishing salt is great on lamb or roast beef.


  • 1 kg sea salt
  • 1/2 cup rosemary
  • 1/4 cup black pepper


  1. Mix all ingredients together in a sealed container and let sit for at least a month.

Using Finishing Salts

Finishing salts should be used exactly as you would expect, to finish a dish, as a garnish and specialty spice. It adds visual appeal and enhances flavours. One thing to remember when using finishing salts is to use less salt when cooking then you would normally use, then garnish generously with finishing salts. If you are looking for specific recipies, here are a few:

Baked Chili Lime Tortilla Chips

  • 2 tortilla wraps
  • Olive oil
  • Chili Lime Salt from recipe above


  1. Brush tortilla wraps in a generous amount of olive oil.
  2. Sprinkle with chili lime salt
  3. Bake chips until crispy at 350 degrees

Sauteed Shrimp Alaea

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound jumbo shrimp
  • peeled and deveined
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • finely chopped
  • 2 shallots
  • finely chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • juiced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Alaea hawaiian red sea salt
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Dredge shrimp in flour
  2. Heat butter in a pan until it just starts to brown slightly
  3. Add shrimp and sautee until golden and crispy on the outside
  4. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside covered
  5. With the pan still on heat ad garlic and shallots (both chopped fine)
  6. Cook for one minute until soft
  7. Add lemon juice and chicken broth and cook down until thickened slightly
  8. Toss shrimp in sauce garnish with Alaea and parsley
  9. Serve and enjoy

© 2013 Jeff Johnston

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