Alaea salt is also known as red Hawaiian salt and is a kind of sea salt. The most traditional version of alaea salt is harvested from salt ponds on Kauai and colored with red clay from Waimea. The less authentic versions of alaea salt may come from China or the mainland US. In any case, the salt is known for its coarse texture and rust-red color. The red color makes alaea salt a visually striking finishing salt and perfect for Hawaiian classic dishes like kalua pork. If you don’t have any of this salt or have run out, here are some of the most effective alaea salt substitutes.
Table of Contents
- Your best bet: Himalayan salt
- A decent second choice: Rock salt
- In a pinch: Maldon sea salt
- Other alternatives
Your best bet: Himalayan salt
Because of its pink color, Himalayan salt is easily the best substitute for alaea salt. Himalayan salt is harvested from one mine in the Punjab region of Pakistan and gets its color from iron, which is also where alaea salt gets its color. The iron in Himalayan salt is believed to come from the remains of sea life in an ancient ocean.
Because of its appealing and unusual color, Himalayan salt works best as a finishing salt. It doesn’t look exactly like alaea salt, but it will still be attractive when sprinkled onto steaks and salads. One important benefit of Himalayan salt is that it should be relatively easy to find compared to alaea salt.
A decent second choice: Rock salt
Rock salt is a very coarse mined salt that has only a few culinary applications in its coarsest form; its coarseness is the main characteristic that makes rock salt a good alaea salt substitute. You will often see food-grade rock salt used for making brines and ice cream.
When it is used in food, rock salt is known for providing a salty flavor without the bitterness that you might associate with iodized table salt, which is a benefit it shares with sea salts like alaea salt. Rock salt will often be easier to find than alaea salt. Rock salt can have the same texture and provide the same flavor as alaea salt, so you can use it as a 1:1 substitute; however, it won’t have the red color.
In a pinch: Maldon sea salt
Maldon salt is a sea salt just like alaea salt, so it will have the same briny character. Maldon sea salt is harvested in Essex in the UK. Unlike some other sea salts, Maldon sea salt is coarse and dry. The coarseness makes Maldon salt work like alaea salt if you sprinkle it on as a finishing ingredient. As a finishing salt, Maldon salt looks attractive and won’t melt away too quickly. That said, it is a white salt that doesn’t have alaea salt’s distinctive color. A couple of other Maldon sea salt downsides are that it is not particularly easy to find outside of high-end grocery stores, and it can be expensive.
Celtic sea salt is another sea salt, so it will share the briny, oceanic aspect of alaea salt’s flavor profile. It is different in that it is a flake salt rather than a coarse one like alaea salt. Celtic salt is also moist, unlike alaea salt.
Regular table salt won’t give you the color or the texture of alaea salt, but it will give you the salty flavor. Another big benefit of table salt is that you probably already have it in your kitchen, and it is inexpensive if you don’t.