REAL FOOD SARASOTA
Salt & Stone Crabs
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Q:   I see all the chefs using salt at all different stages of cooking.  What are the uses of all those types of salt and what if you cannot use salt because of health?
 
A:  Salt - sodium chloride  Most recipes that call for salt are referring to table salt, which has additives like iodine, and an anti-caking agent so the salt won't get lumpy in humid weather. Salt connoisseurs, though, often prefer to use Kosher salt for cooking, and sea salt for table use. They claim that both have a softer flavor than table salt. Exotic salts include the expensive French and Hawaiian sea salts, the smoky, sulfuric Indian black salt, and the intensely salty Korean bamboo salt. Specialized salts include pickling salt, which is free of the additives that turn pickles dark and the pickling liquid cloudy, and rock salt, used primarily to de-ice driveways and make ice cream.  If you must restrict salt intake, you might try a little cider vinegar to enhance the flavors of your food.

Tips:
* Adding salt to water will raise the temperature at which it boils and lower the temperature at which it freezes.
* Though we need some salt in our diet, most Americans consume much more than necessary. Too much salt may lead to high blood pressure for some individuals.
*Salt is a terrific flavor enhancer, helping to reduce bitterness and acidity, and bringing out other flavors in the food.
*Adding salt to bread dough controls the action of the yeast and improves the flavor. Bread made without salt will have a coarser texture and a blander flavor than bread made with salt.
*Try sprinkling salt on citrus fruit, melons, tomatoes, and even wine to enhance flavor.
*Adding a little salt balances the flavor of sweets like cakes, cookies, and candies.
*Boiling eggs in salted water makes them easier to peel.
*Adding a pinch of salt (preferably non-iodized) to cream or egg whites before they're whipped increases their volume and serves as a stabilizer.
*Salt is a mineral, so it can be stored indefinitely without going stale. It won't taste any fresher if you grind it with a salt mill.
*Salt has been used for millennia as a preservative for meats, fish, cheese, and other foods. It works by absorbing moisture from the cells of bacteria and mold through osmosis, which kills them or leaves them unable to reproduce.
*Salting slices of eggplant helps draw out the bitter juices.
*Sprinkling salt on meat before broiling or grilling it draws moisture from the center, making it browner on the outside, but less juicy on the inside.
 *Substitutes: citrus zest (for seasoning) OR pepper (for seasoning) OR herbs (for seasoning) OR soy sauce (for seasoning) OR miso (especially in hearty soups and stews; 1 teaspoon salt = 2 tablespoons hatcho miso) OR salt substitute OR kelp powder OR omit (Reducing salt in a recipe reduces sodium, but doing so may impair flavor and, in the case of baked goods, texture. Since salt enhances flavorings, use more of them if you reduce salt in a recipe.) OR marinades (marinating meats enhances their flavor).


Q:  WHAT IS A STONE CRAB?
 
A:  Stone Crab
Latin name Menippe mercenaria, it is also called "moro" or "morro" crab. It has large, very hard claws that are prized for their meat. Most of the harvest comes from Florida, US, where it is a prized delicacy harvested from October 15 to May 15. Only the claws are eaten, so fishermen twist off one claw from crabs and toss them back to grow a new one. Crabs will regenerate their claws within 18 months. They are left with one claw to defend themselves. The law requires these claws to be boiled for 7 minutes and then either put on ice or frozen. The freezing process seems to remove an unpleasant iodine taste which is often noticed in the meat. To determine which claws have the most meat, they are floated in a tank of water, with the less meaty claws rising and being sold as "lights." To serve, the claws are cracked with a mallet and served cold with dipping sauces. Minimum size for claws is 2-2.75 ounces. The meat has a firm texture and a sweet, succulent flavor. 
 
 
 

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