When I was at an open day at Salt Meat Cheese recently I met Rowena Firth . I started talking to her over a glass of wine and some wonderful cheeses. She was a lot of fun and after a while I asked her what she did and she told me that she is a Selmelier. Yes, you thought I spelt that wrong didn’t you?. That’s right she is a salt expert. She has a bit of a wandering spirit much like I do and during a stint living in the US she became interested in salt.
Salt is a natural chemical compound that has been a major trade item for humans since records began. It is an absolute necessity to enable our bodies to function properly. No foods, sweet or savoury would taste the same without salt. It was transported all over the world, before refrigeration, it was critical in the preservation of food. Today, due to industrial food processing, we tend to think that salt is not very good for us, but this isn’t true. What is true is that processed heavily salted packaged foods full of fat are bad for us, giving salt a very bad wrap
So, back to Rowena and her new job as a “Semmelier”. She knows a lot about salt and she imports all kinds of salts; gourmet cooking salts, and lifestyle salts like bathsalts and “salt gifts”-such as storage & servers. We did a bit of a tour of the salt section at Salt Meats Cheese looking at the bags of salt. She brings in all kinds of exciting flavours from around the world and sells them wholesale and on her website The Salt Box. How about Merlot, Balsamic or Espresso salt or maybe Habanero, Rosemary or Porcini?
I’ve got a container of her Yakima Applewood Smoked Salt from Washington State in the USA. I made some whole Smoked Salt and Pepper Prawns with it but you could use this recipe for squid or chicken if you like .
- ½ kg prawns
- 4 teaspoons Smoked salt ( or another flavour)
- ½ teaspoon chilli powder ( optional)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 6 Tablespoons rice flour
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon dijon
- ¼ bunch coriander
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- ½ teaspoon zest
- smoked salt and pepper
- up to 1-1/2 cups rice bran or other oil
- 1 tablespoon extra chopped coriander
- Trim the prawns
- Mix the spices and put them into a plastic zip top bag. Add the Prawns and shake. Set aside in the fridge.
- Put the egg yolk, dijon, juice and zest into a blender or processor. Blitz till combined and creamy. Slowly add the oil with the blender going until the mayonnaise is thick. If the mixture is still thin when all the oil is added add a little more.
- Season with smoked salt and pepper and a little more lime juice.
- Put the oil into a deep pot and heat to around 180C/350 F or until a piece of bread dropped into the oil sizzles.
- Add the prawns a few at a time cooking for approx 8 minutes or until starting to colour. The shell should be crispy and the inside moist. Test one.
- Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with a tiny bit of extra smoked salt and chopped coriander
Have you met anyone with an interesting job lately?