Fleur de Sel Appreciation Society
August 6, 2012 8:37 AM   Subscribe

What are some good uses for my fleur de sel? What makes it so special, anyway?

I picked up some fleur de sel de Guerande while on a recent vacation to Brittany. (We ended up going to BĂ©nodet, a seaside town not far from Concarneau, on the south side of Brittany. Beautiful.)

I'm not a heavy salt user in the first place, but everyone raves about fleur de sel and I thought I'd see what's so magical. I use plain ol' kosher in my salt mill for everyday use. As far as I understand, NaCl is NaCl is NaCl, but the shape and flakiness of fleur de sel makes it special as a finishing salt. But why? And how can I use my small stash to appreciate it best? I'm looking both for actual recipes and for general tips. I'm an accomplished cook and we eat most everything, heavy on the veggies. Not so much into the preserving, pickling and non-food answers that made up the bulk of the answers to this previous question.
posted by Liesl to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Some restaurants serve sweet butter with fleur de sel mixed or layered into it. Ideally the salt maintains its flaky quality in the butter and you spread it on bread.
posted by BibiRose at 8:50 AM on August 6, 2012

Best answer: Only use it on food that is done cooking.

As in, "I've made these roast veggies or steak or chocolate mousse; now I will sprinkle on a few flakes of fancy salt."

Big flakes dissolve in the mouth differently and hit the tongue differently. The scale difference between a sodium molecule and a taste bud is enormous. Like a drop of rain falling on a hill. fleur de sel would be an ice-skating rink in this example.
posted by French Fry at 8:51 AM on August 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

I just right this minute finished a most delicious fleur de sel caramel (from trader joe's). so, caramels?
posted by changeling at 8:54 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The texture and the amount of saltiness will be different to ordinary kosher or iodized salt. So you want to use it in situations where the texture will show through. That's why it's a finishing salt: you want to use it where it won't just dissolve into the food.

So roast or grill some vegetables tossed in olive oil, and sprinkle a healthy pinch onto them right before serving. Put some honey on a plate, a pinch of sea salt, and a healthy drizzle of olive oil, and drag pieces of good bread through the lot instead of butter. If it's coarse use it in baking cookies and they will have little pockets of salty goodness to balance the sweet.
posted by gauche at 8:57 AM on August 6, 2012

It is absolutely genius sprinkled on top of caramel sauce or chocolate anything-- cookies, ganache, truffles, hot fudge sauce, and so on. It is definitely a finishing salt and not something used during cooking. Other thoughts: fresh, lightly cooked vegetables like green beans with lemon or asparagus, on top of butter on bread (possibly with radishes), kale chips...
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:58 AM on August 6, 2012

Definitely sprinkle it on sliced tomatoes and cucumbers too. If there is juice at the bottom of the dish when you're done, drink it!
posted by BibiRose at 9:00 AM on August 6, 2012

Sprinkle on freshly baked chocolate chip cookies... Mmmm...
posted by Arthur Dent at 9:15 AM on August 6, 2012

I am an unrepentent salt addict:

Sprinkled on the best bread you can find (or make), with the best unsalted butter;

Likewise, but melted butter and asparagus;

Freshest eggs you can find, soft-hard boiled, dipped in fleur de sel as you eat;

If it's your bag, use it to season foie gras or pan-sauted chicken livers served on brioche toast.

Interestingly, Fleur de Sel does have a significantly different mineral content than most other eating-salts. On top of this, a high content of red-green algae gives it its pink hue and is supposedly what contributes to its scent, which is often described as being close to violets. Whilst I tend towards NaCl being NaCl in most all cases, I do think that this scent of Fleur de Sel is what makes it particularly special as a finishing salt, especially when combined with sweet dishes.
posted by protorp at 9:26 AM on August 6, 2012

what everyone else said, plus put it on avocados and corn. my mouth is watering.
posted by nevers at 9:34 AM on August 6, 2012

I cannot find a link to it online, but the Jeffrey Steingarten essay "Salt Chic" concludes that indeed NaCl is NaCl, and all salts, no matter how fancy taste the same. Having said that, I also like fleur de sel as a table salt, because it's easy to sprinkle, and very consistent in flake size. My recommendations would also be foie gras tartines, or neat on radishes, or as a "dusting" on anything caramel.
posted by roofus at 9:53 AM on August 6, 2012

I make these cheesecake bars with dolce de leche and sprinkle them with fleur de sel. They're very popular when I bring them to work. Mostly I use it on baked items/salted caramel because the flakes hold their shape/consistency better than most standard salts.
posted by carolinecrane at 10:35 AM on August 6, 2012

Salted butter caramel ice cream!
posted by mireille at 12:14 PM on August 6, 2012

Good bread, unsalaried butter, Maldon.
posted by kestrel251 at 1:09 PM on March 2, 2013

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