Summer Salt Party Menu

Here’s a dish by dish breakdown of the menu for the salt party.

Gravalax, cured with sea salt

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I loved the idea of starting with a dish that uses salt the same way that people started using salt in the first place-for preservation. We overcured the salmon by six hours (50%), and it ended up being an intensely salty start. Rinsing multiple times and patting dry helped, but the middle of the salmon turned out the be the saltiest.

Peach Caprese Salad with Curry Salt

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Inspired by the book, Salt: Cooking with the World’s Favorite Seasoning, I though that that this variation on Caprese would be a great way to celebrate stone fruit season with the help of a simple finishing salt.

Cold skewers cured on a chilled himalayan salt block:

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  • Cucumber marinated in rice wine vinegar, garlic, and red onion
  • Watermelon and melon marinated in lime, sugar, and mint
  • Mango and pineapple with optional chili salt on the side

A touch of Himalayan salt really brings out the fresh flavors of summer while the light marinade for the cold skewers provides a nice contrast to the salt.

Hot skewers on heated himalayan salt block

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  • Flank steak, simply sliced
  • Assorted peppers and potatoes
  • Asparagus wrapped in bacon

With the hot skewers, no extra flavors or adornments are needed. I stuck with classic combinations. The steak especially was good with minimal prep-no marinade and no seasoning other than the flavors from cooking it on the salt block (you can add black pepper if you must).

Kale chips with flaky sea salt

This dish was omitted during the final preparation of the meal simply because we ran out of time. There was a lot of things that needed to go in the oven in rapid succession. However, this  dish can be made a little ahead of time and would have add a little more green to the menu as well as a crispy texture that is not present in the other dishes.

Salt-crusted Branzino

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This is a dish that was on my cooking bucket list. The recipe by far uses the most salt of any of the recipes, but the salt is use less for seasoning but more to trap the heat and steam the fish. The fish comes out delicate and has a subtle flavor (not salty at if you carefully remove the salt crust). Thus, it is often paired with a sauce.

Sweet Potato Wedges with Hawaiian Sea Salt with Goat Cheese and Citrus Salt Dip

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Simple recipe to provide a starch to balance with the branzino. A white potato may have been a more natural pairing for the fish, but the sweet potato was a more interesting contrast for the Hawaiian sea salt.

Salt cured strawberry ice cream, Fleur de Sel ice cream, and salt cured cherry covered with chocolate.

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There  is ton of dessert potential with salt, but my baking skills are limited so I resorted to my dessert staple: ice cream. I wanted to do one fruit ice cream and one with darker flavors. I also ended up trying to salt cure cherries between two salt blocks and then dipping them in chocolate which gave me yet another way to use Himalayan salt blocks. Another idea would be to do a salt-themed Neopolitan ice cream with vanilla (or caramel) fleur de sel, salted chocolate, and the salt-cured strawberry ice cream.

Theme Cocktails-Habanero Watermelon Margarita & Salted Caramel Martini

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This drink duo was devised by Jen. The watermelon margarita in perfectly with the citrus and fresh flavors of the first half of the dinner, and the habanero gives it a welcome extra kick. The Salted caramel martini provides a nice counterpart to the savory flavor of the flank steak and fish and transitions nicely to the dessert.

Summary:

This menu was the most “high concept” menu thus far which I have mixed feelings about. The menu packs in eight(!) different types of salt while capturing things that evoke summer for me-citrus, seafood, and grilling (albeit in a different way) on the rooftop. There’s also a play on temperature as the food progresses from cold to hot dishes, with the skewers on the Himalayan salt block serving as the transition. However, this kind of menu takes a lot of finesse in the execution to not have salt overwhelm everything. The menu also requires the guests to be in an adventurous mood and be willing to push their boundaries, but salt certainly does provide a good source of party conversation topic! One thing I would perhaps tweak in the future is to alternate courses between be salty and soothing. The menu is achievable as is, but it requires considerable experimentation and tasting to pull it off with grace.

Photos by Carla Gabriel Garcia

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