Himalayan salt and sea salt are both popular finishing salts that can add flavor to dishes and make an attractive presentation as well. Both are believed to be better than regular table salt, but how do they compare to each other? Do they taste the same? Do they look the same? These and other questions will be answered below in another SPICEography Showdown.
Do Himalayan salt and sea salt differ in flavor?
Himalayan sea salt contains iron oxide and other trace minerals, that give it its pink color. The minerals are thought to be from fossils of the marine life that once lived in the ancient ocean from which the salt comes. Those minerals affect the salt’s flavor along with its color. They also help to dull the sharpness of pure sodium chloride. Himalayan pink salt contains less of them than sea salt, which means that its flavor can be cleaner than that of sea salt.
Sea salt is harvested from existing bodies of water such as oceans, seas, and salt water lakes.
Because of their mineral content, both Himalayan and sea salt have a noticeably different flavor from table salt. The differences between the two are less clear, aside from the very subtle difference in saltiness noted above.
Do Himalayan salt and sea salt look the same?
While not all pink salt is Himalayan, all Himalayan salt is naturally off-white or different shades of pink when mined. Its color is mainly what sets it apart from most other salts. In comparison, the most common form of sea salt is white like table salt but with a coarser texture.
Note that there are different types of sea salt. They include red and pink varieties from Hawaii as well as gray sea salt and Fleur de Sel, which is a moist sea salt. These varieties are harder to find and usually more expensive when compared to white sea salt.
If your recipe calls for one, can you use the other?
Both Himalayan salt and sea salt consist mostly of sodium chloride. This means that both are effective for giving your food the taste of salt. You can use either one in place of the other if all you want is the flavor.
The texture is one of the main ways in which Himalayan salt differ. The crystals of Himalayan salt are typically very dry, whereas the crystals of some sea salts are moist. When used as a finishing salt, pink salt tends to absorb moisture from food because it is so dry. The moisture it draws out causes it to melt away. Moist sea salts tend to last longer since they do not absorb water as quickly.
A sea salt may not be a great substitute for Himalayan salt if you want the salt to dissolve quickly. Similarly, Himalayan salt may not be a good substitute if you want a finishing salt that sticks around to add a crunchy texture to dishes.
What are the best ways to use Himalayan salt and sea salt?
Because of its tendency to dissolve, Himalayan salt is best used on foods where you want it to melt away. It is perfect for delicate salads and for seasoning steaks right as they come off the grill.
Sea salt is best on dishes that can be enhanced by its crunch. Use it on pasta, eggs, and even desserts. Fleur de Sel is a favorite among bakers and confectioners partly because of its crunch.