In his new book “Bitterman’s Craft Salt Cooking,” Mark Bitterman goes all dinosaur-movie voice-over (salt is “the food that time forgot”). A few more pages in, he’s urging us to abandon seasoning everything with poor-quality industrialized salt (he’s looking at you, too, Kosher and Sea).
Bitterman introduces the more sophisticated seven-member craft-salt family with history, chemistry and anatomy lessons — plus plenty of charts. But the tone is inspirational, not didactic. After all, the book is subtitled “The Single Ingredient That Transforms All Your Favorite Foods and Recipes.”
The Portland-based James Beard award–winner is an unabashed salt fan (he distributes craft salts and sells them at his Portland and Manhattan shops). This, his third salt cooking book, is studded with nuggets of culinary advice, including suggested salt types for every recipe, from Turkey Wunderlust with four globally inspired rubs to Lavender Salted Lemon Blondies.
Want to serve your holiday guests something slightly mysterious and shocking? For this cocktail, be sure to allow time for the ice cubes to freeze and for the simple syrup to cool before assembling.
Salty Dalmatian With B&W Ice Cubes
Vodka and grapefruit juice make a greyhound. Add an ice cube spotted with pepper and it becomes a dalmatian. Throw in a jigger of salty-sweet simple syrup and a salt-and-pepper rim and it’s a Salty Dalmatian. Careful. He bites.
Ingredients for Salty Dalmatian
- 1/8 teaspoon flake salt
- 1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 ounce Salted Simple Syrup, divided
- 2 ounces vodka
- 3 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
- 2 B&W Ice Cubes
Ingredients for Salted Simple Syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 teaspoons sel gris
- 1 cup water
Ingredients for B&W Ice Cubes
Makes 12 (1-Inch) ice cubes
- 1 cup crushed ice
- 1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon cracked white peppercorns
- 1 cup cold water
Directions for Salty Dalmatian
- Mix the salt and pepper on a plate. Moisten the outside of the rim of a highball glass with a bit of the simple syrup and roll the moistened glass rim in the mixture.
- Combine the vodka, remaining simple syrup, and grapefruit juice in a shaker filled with ice. Shake for 10 seconds, just until chilled; pour into the prepared glass. Plop go the ice cubes.
Directions for Salted Simple Syrup: Place all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir to moisten the sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat without stirring. Boil until clear, no more than 1 minute. Pour into a clean jar and cool. Refrigerate, tightly closed, for up to 2 months.
Directions for B&W Ice Cubes: Mix the crushed ice and peppercorns and divide between 12 partitions of a standard ice cube tray (about 1-inch square cubes). Add the cold water to fill each partition. Freeze until solid, about 2 hours.
Salt Box tips
Black Diamond Flake Salt, with its big crispy crystals, is an invitation to play. Since the salt is black, swap the black pepper for white pepper. Now you’ve reversed the spots on your dalmatian, with white pepper and black salt. White pepper is hotter and cleaner-tasting than black, so the change is not simply cosmetic. Black Lava Salt and Icelandic Lava Salt are also great options.
Salty Dalmatian With B&W Ice Cubes and Salt Box excerpted from “Bitterman’s Craft Salt Cooking” by Mark Bitterman, text copyright 2016 by Mark Bitterman; photos copyright 2016 by Clare Barboza. Republished with permission from Andrews McMeel Publishing. All rights reserved.
Article updated Nov. 20, 2016, at 9:55 a.m. PST with information about Bitterman’s craft salt business.
Article originally published Nov. 18, 2016, at 7:30 p.m. PST.