My love for salt is no secret. I have owned up to it here. My anger with the anti-salt movement on the other hand has been growing exponentially in the last few months. One quiet morning, while leaving for work and checking Twitter, I got this tweet "why salt sucks." WHAT? Who sucks? It was linked to a blog post, this one, (no it isn't exactly worth visiting). The blog urged the readers to take a leap and go salt-less for a week- zero salt. Why not just get a lobotomy instead? Burn my taste buds or something and that way I won't enjoy any of the things that make me happy- butter, salt, foie gras, dark chocolate, coffee.
It isn't this blogger that is responsible for my anger - although, in fairness, him and I don't see eye-to-eye- in other blogs he urged quitting coffee in a week and explained why artisan chocolates are not worth the money; he can keep the Hershey's bar.
It is a bit of a fad now to revolt against the evil salt, praise low sodium diets, and think of all the reasons why salt is bad for your health. The New York Times ran a big spread not long ago- this one. The Wall Street Journal did the same- here. And while the New York Times also ran this article explaining that even when it comes to pure sodium analysis there is no evidence showing that a reduction would lead to a healthier individual, I still feel the anti-salt wave.
Salt is life, taste, pleasure. It transforms, recreates, enlivens. We need it, crave it, and celebrate it. Now, we seem boxed in a corner to defend it, protect it. I am not giving up salt! Seriously. If you want to take a leap and give something up, drop the canned stuff, the boxed up chicken stock, the frozen lunches. It isn't the salt you should quit cold turkey, it is all the processed foods. Yes, your Cherrios have salt and so does the store-bought ice cream. My granola ...no salt. None in my ice cream either. On my fish on the other hand, plenty of it!
Salt-Crusted Red Snapper, a Jose Andres recipe
Ingredients: 1 whole red snapper (mine was about a pound, yours can be up to 2 1/2); about 2 lbs kosher salt (more if your fish is larger); 3 tablespoons water; 3 bay leaves; 3-5 rosemary sprigs; 6-8 thyme sprigs; 2 tablespoons olive oil; half a lemon; parsley for garnish.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
The herbs- thyme, rosemary, bay leaves are nothing fancy or complicated, just flavor added to the salt, infusing into the fish. Mix the salt and water in a bowl. Add the herbs.
Make a bed of salt on the bottom of a baking dish or a baking sheet and set the fish over it.
The goal is to fully cover the fish in salt and distribute the herbs as evenly as possible.
Bake for 26 minutes in the middle rack of the oven. Remove and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before you crack the salt crust open. The upper side of the fish should now be a hard shell that is easy to lift if you just sneak your fork or spoon under it. Discard the salt shell and peel the skin away.
Cutting along the spine, on each side of the snapper, carefully separate the spine and bones from the meat. Discard the head, bones, and skin.
Serve it with your favorite brew, a slice of lemon, and a bit of parsley while summer is still here!
Photography by Jennifer Olson.