Salt – the dark side.

From H.M., 29 April 2012, black salt – how to undo what has been done?

Q: This is kind of random…. I made tofu “egg” salad yesterday and the recipe called for black salt (kala namak). I used the amount of black salt the recipe called for, but it turned out WAY too sulfurous. Is there anything I can add that might tone down the sulfur?

A: Thanks for your question! This is amazing – I took a question about salt earlier today, and actually mentioned kala namak.

Kala namak is a volcanic salt from Darjeeling, with a strong, sulfurous flavor. I’m not crazy about it on its own, although I do admit that it does lend a specific taste to some Indian dishes that otherwise is hard to replicate. The sulfurous flavor can be valuable to vegans when trying to imitate the flavor of hard-boiled eggs. (In case you wondered, hard boiled eggs can assume a sulfurous quality because hydrogen sulfide is released during heating.)

Which leads to your vegan “egg salad.” Here’s the thing, for future reference – some very potent ingredients come in more than one form. Kala namak, for example, is available in whole rocks (to be grated a la minute), coarse pebbles, a finer grind, and a very fine form almost like dust. The amount you want to use will vary widely depending on the grind. When using a very fine grind, proceed with caution – a teaspoon of that might have a very different effect than a teaspoon of something somewhat slightly coarser. This is true with far less esoteric ingredients – think of the difference between fine-grained, iodized salt on the one hand and Diamond kosher flake salt on the other; or a cup of AP flour straight out of the bag and a cup of pre-sifted flour. So start small, adding less than you think you need, and taste as you go. Once it reaches the right level of “egginess” for your taste, stop using it and substitute regular salt for seasoning.

You probably can’t blunt the taste of the sulfur in your salad at this point without changing its essential taste or composition, so your only solution may be to make even more of it. If you’re willing, add more tofu (maybe 1/3 of the amount called for in the original recipe), and add a little more of other relevant seasonings like diced celery, dry mustard, pickle, and celery seed, and a small squeeze of lemon as well. Don’t add much more turmeric; it has a strong, resinous, dusty taste of its own. If you have it, bind with a little vegenaise to improve texture and add some much-needed acid. If it needs salt, season with plain (kosher) salt, which will provide seasoning but not additional sulfur.

Alternatively, you can try to conceal the taste of the sulfur with something like black olives, which my husband loves in egg salad and which may be pungent enough on their own to make them seem less sulfurous. Good luck!

One thought on “Salt – the dark side.

  1. Pingback: Salt of the earth. « The Upstart Kitchen

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