Archive for January 9th, 2011

I’m a little hesitant to write this post for a couple of reasons. Each time I start to write, more questions come up which I don’t know the answers to. Rather than wait for all the answers (which spur more questions). I’ll start posting and update as more information becomes available.

The topic is salt.

Small-kid time, we only knew one kind of salt (the “when it rains, it pours” one). I only knew canned vegetables and fruits too for that matter. Anyway, time passed and a movement of organic foods and locally sourced foods began. We began using coarse sea salt thinking it was locally sourced (our bad, we didn’t read or really pay attention to the labeling).

Jump to the present, we’ve met and gotten to know some of the family members of one the families that are caretakers of the salt ponds on Kaua’i. To make a long story short, there are only a very few places (and families) on the state that harvest salt the traditional way (There is a very good description and write-up here). They gave us a couple bags of salt that they harvested.

Sea Salt from Kaua'i


This salt is as natural as can be, unfiltered and unprocessed. M, one of the family members (and one of The Cat’s clients), told us the colorations come from the earth the ponds are dug from and brine shrimp that live in the ponds.

We knew this was something special and felt very honored.  Being Asian, we didn’t want to just take the salt. We returned M and her father some ku ding cha leaves and Chinese green tea (the leaves looks like a bird’s tongue). We didn’t know it at the time but there is an ancient ban on buying salt from the families. Bartering or trading is okay so we didn’t bring the wrath of the gods down. Whew!

They also told us that most, if not all, of the sea salt (supposedly from Hawai’i) bought in the stores is made on the mainland and packaged in Hawai’i. We checked the bag of salt in our pantry and sure enough, the labeling states it’s “packaged”  (not harvested) at a local address. All our assumptions about “terroir” of the sea salt we’ve been buying for several years were dashed.

Now, I’m not sure about the ‘alaea salt or black lava salt that’s marketed all over (just do a search and see how many vendors are selling the salts) at premiums prices.

On to happier subjects, there is a definite (but indescribable) difference between the regular table salt and the sea salt from Kaua’i. It seems like the sea salt “melts” quicker and has a mellower “taste” and “texture”. The family also said that we can get more salt from them later (deep respectful bow). We shared a little of the salt with our cousins who used it on their grilled steaks, delicious.

I am definitely starting to follow in my great-grandfather’s footsteps (trading and bartering for goods). First there was rice, then tea, now salt. 🙂

Wouldn’t be interesting to find out that the gourmet salts being marketed from here (with gourmet prices) are not sourced from here? Another question is that if the salts being sold does actually come from here, how are they able to sell it (remember the ancient ban on selling salt)? Curious minds want to know. I guess on this topic, caveat emptor applies. I’ll stop ranting now.

Will keep you posted.


The Mouse

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