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Speaking of Salt

Salt plays a crucial role in the kitchen, but do you know what type to use? Chemically there is little difference between all kitchen salts. The main difference is the processing of these salts and the resulting salt crystals. Below is some useful information about the most common types of salt and some tips on when to use them.

Iodized or table salt, is the most common salt and has the strongest flavor. It is processed and refined which strips away all natural minerals. Table salt is best used in baking because of its small, uniform size.

Kosher salt is unrefined with no additives. The natural minerals come through, and the taste tends to be milder than table salt. Kosher salt is coarse and has large salt crystals, which is the perfect salt for curing meat, an important step in the koshering process and hence the name. Kosher salt dissolves quickly, making it ideal for savory cooking and is particularly useful in preserving food because the large salt crystals help draw out moisture.

Sea salt is obtained by the evaporation of sea water and can come in many different texture varieties. It is best used for an added punch of flavor at the end of cooking, right before serving. Sea salt also compliments sweet flavor elements such as caramel and chocolate.

Rock salt is mined from the ground and is typically not sold for consumption because it is unprocessed. Rock salt is commonly used for deicing roads in winter months. It is also used with ice in hand-cranked ice cream makers to regulate the temperature.

Pickling salt is similar to table salt; however it is not fortified with iodine and does not contain anticaking chemicals, which would affect the pickling process. Pickling salt is the purest and most concentrated of all salts, therefore less is usually needed. It is used for brining foods such as vegetables and meat.

Flavored salt is typically table salt with flavorings added. The most common and inexpensive varieties of this salt are garlic salt, celery salt, and seasoned salt. These salts can be added during cooking to enhance the flavor

Now that you know all about salts, use that knowledge and get cooking in the kitchen! This recipe uses pantry staples and an inexpensive type of fish to create an affordable family meal.

Southern Oven Baked Catfish

Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes Serves 4

2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds catfish or tilapia fillets, cut into serving pieces
1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon each seasoned salt and black pepper, or more as needed

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Grease a 13×9 glass baking dish with the oil, and set aside.

Rinse the catfish fillets, and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper. In a shallow bowl, combine the cornmeal and creole seasoning. Combine the eggs and hot sauce in another bowl. Dip the fillets in the egg mixture, dredge in the cornmeal mixture, and place in the prepared baking dish.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until cooked through and golden brown. Turn once during cooking. Place catfish on a paper-towel lined plate, and serve immediately with additional hot sauce.

Chef Heather Hunsaker attended and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, but has been developing family friendly meals since she was nine years old in her mother’s kitchen. She is an avid crockpotter and knows how to get food on the table in a pinch. She currently serves as a writer and recipe developer for meal planning site

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