Black lava salt is a gourmet salt used to enhance food with more than just a salty flavor. Black lava salt doesn’t contain any lava as the name might lead you to believe; rather, it is a table salt colored with activated charcoal. Most black lava salt comes from one of two places: Hawaii or Cyprus. It is different from the sulfurous black salt — also called kala namak — from Pakistan. To help you get the most value from your black lava salt, here are some of the best ways to use it.
Table of Contents
- As a finishing salt
- In soups
- In dry rubs
- As a pretzel salt
- As a bagel salt
- As a salsa salt
- As a cocktail salt
As a finishing salt
Where black lava salt shines is in finishing dishes. You sprinkle on the salt right before serving the food for a striking visual effect. The activated charcoal contributes a subtle smokiness to the salt, but black lava salt isn’t primarily used for its flavor, mainly for its color.
While you can use black lava salt on any food, you will get the most appealing results if you sprinkle it onto pale food where it provides greater contrast. You then need to serve the food before the crystals melt. Black lava salt works on potatoes — fried or roasted — and on roasted vegetables, including Brussels sprouts and eggplant. It provides an attractive topping for pale fish like halibut and is similarly attractive on tuna, rare or raw. As a finishing salt, black lava salt is also great on whole or scrambled eggs. It can make a salad look and taste more appetizing and will enhance hors d’oeuvres like blinis topped with salmon roe.
Generally, you don’t want to cook with black lava salt. When it breaks down, it tends to turn paler foods an unattractive gray. The color might not be a problem in some darker foods, like a tomato or bean soup — it might provide an enhancement by deepening the color. Black lava salt’s mild smokiness can also work as a tasty accent.
In dry rubs
The thicker texture of lava salt may make it an excellent addition to dry rubs for grilled meat. In a dry rub, black lava salt may help to seal juices inside meat, thus making it tender and moist.
As a pretzel salt
Black lava salt can be an unusual visual flourish for soft pretzels where instead of the traditional white pretzel salt, you can use black lava salt to give your homemade pretzels a dramatic look. Along with the ornamental benefits, black lava salt’s delicate smoky notes can complement the pretzel’s saltiness and caramelized exterior.
As a bagel salt
Like a salted bagel? Black lava salt can kick the flavor up a notch by adding its smokiness along with the aesthetic element of black salt on the bagel’s surface.
As a salsa salt
Many kinds of salsa require the ingredients to be roasted before being ground to a paste. If you don’t have the time or the inclination to do the roasting step, you can add black lava salt to get a mild version of the smoky charred taste while also adding the dark flecks that characterize a true fire-roasted salsa.
As a cocktail salt
Black lava salt makes an excellent garnish for the rim of a cocktail glass. The original cocktail to require a salted rim was the margarita, and you can use black lava salt in place of the traditional kosher salt when making margaritas at home for a unique look. Black salt will also go well with bloody Marys and salty dogs.