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Recipes of the week: Salt: Rediscovering the delicious diversity of a tabletop staple

Artisanal salts are “latecomers” to our current food renaissance, said Mark Bitterman in Salted.

Artisanal salts are “latecomers” to our current food renaissance, said Mark Bitterman in Salted. But it’s no surprise to see that a market is now growing for hundreds of salt styles—from versatile sel gris (gray salt) to brick-like Himalayan salt stones. Cuisines across the world “evolved in concert with the availability and character of regionally made salts.”

Until relatively recently, salt was difficult to make and considered a treasure. Industrialized production methods changed that, but most supermarket shoppers now know only overprocessed versions, even if they buy only kosher or sea salts. Look beyond them: The type of salt and how you use it can transform food, whether you’re adding the “crackling crunch” of a Halen Môn to a well-presented steak tartare or using Cyprus flake salt to give a blanched pea “its own electricity.”

Recipes of the weekSteak Tartare With Halen Môn12 oz lean beef tenderloin 1½ tsp Worcestershire sauce Freshly cracked black pepper 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, plus more for trimmings 2 egg yolks 4 anchovies 20 capers ½ tsp sherry wine vinegar 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or anchovy oil 2 tbsp finely chopped red onion 1 tbsp chopped chives 2 three-finger pinches of Halen Môn 4 slices of baguette, toasted, for serving

Slice tenderloin thinly. Cut into strips and cut strips into smaller pieces. Chop until meat is fine enough to mold but still in discernible pieces. Mix in Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and mustard until well blended. Using fingers, shape meat into two small rounds, no more than 4 inches across, on two plates. Make a deep well in center of each patty and place an egg yolk in each well.

In small bowl, lightly mash anchovies and capers with fork. Mix in vinegar and olive oil. Dollop half of mixture on each plate at 12 o’clock. Mix red onion and chives together and put small mound at 6 o’clock. Put a three-finger pinch of salt at 3 o’clock and spoonful of mustard at 9 o’clock. To eat, mix anchovy-caper mixture into egg yolk with fork. Work egg mixture into meat, incorporating salt and onion mixture to taste. Eat with toasted baguette. Serves two.

Blanched Spring Peas With Saffron Crème Fraîche and Cyprus Flake Salt1 pinch saffron threads 2 tsp vermouth ¼ cup crème fraîche 1 small handful sel gris 1 lb hulled fresh spring peas or frozengreen garden peas, thawed 4 two-finger pinches Cyprus flake salt

Bring quart of water to boil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, crumble saffron into vermouth in small bowl. Set aside until vermouth turns golden, about 5 minutes. Mix in crème fraîche. Add sel gris to boiling water. When water returns to boil, stir in peas and boil for about 3 minutes, until peas are bright green and tender. Drain thoroughly. Serve peas dolloped with the saffron crème fraîche and seasoned with a pinch of flake salt per serving.

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