I received a packet of flor de sal, or flower salt, and a packet of sea salt from Terras de Sal in Portugal last week. What good timing, too, because I ran out sea salt and have been using the grocery store type the last two nights. The Terras de Sal sea salt looks and feels like a handful of rough diamonds. It tastes like they were just filtered from the ocean. The flor de sal is more fine, and because it is traditionally applied to food before serving, its saltiness is less strong.
Terras de Sal mines its salt in Castro Marim, or Castle by the Sea, in the surrounding natural marshland of Reserva Natural do Sapal de Castro Marim. The area is a breeding ground for many species of birds and the salt mines are known to keep its surroundings balanced with the natural environment. All the salt they produce are mined by hand with the aid of wooden instruments and techniques used from a long time ago. When the package from Portugal came, I was very intrigued since I’ve never really distinguished the different kinds of salt available in fine stores today.
I searched for a recipe that uses a large quantity of salt. I used a fish I’ve never heard of: croaker. They were among the newly delivered fresh fish in the Harlem supermarket one Saturday morning and were going for only $2.80 for a whole one. I read later that croakers live in shallow lagoons and therefore eat a lot of shellfish, so they’re meat is considered to be pretty good even though a lot of fishermen think they are a nuisance. (Feel free to substitute with a sea bass.)
When done, the Terras de Sal salt not only gave the fish some flavor, it also gave this dish a uniquely presentable look.
1 white croaker, cleaned and scaled
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 lemon, sliced, plus some zest
2 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 cup sea salt
olive oil, pepper
1. Preheat oven to 425Âº. Meanwhile, sprinkle the inside of the fish with pepper and stuff with lemon slices.
2. Make the salt mixture. In a bowl, combine the thyme and rosemary with the sea salt, lemon zest and egg white. You can add a little water to get a coating consistency. It shouldn’t be too crumbly.
3. Coat the fish. Spread some of the salt in a roasting pan and place the fish on top. Completely cover the fish with the rest of the salt mixture. Make sure the whole fish is concealed by the salt as this will seal it and keep all the aromas and flavors inside.
4. Bake the fish for about 35 minutes. When done, remove the fish from the oven and carefully crack the salt case using a heavy knife and remove the fish. Serve the fish with a drizzle of olive oil.
Use Terras de Sal flower salt on fennel tomato salsa
Buy your salt from Terras de Sal