I first heard about Himalayan pink salt in a cooking show. Some chef was raving about its gourmet qualities. I can’t remember which show and which chef but my interest was piqued. Two reasons. First, the color. I love pink. Second, the Himalayas. Ever since I read James Hilton’s Lost Horizon back in high school (or was it in grade school?), anything connected or associated with the Himalayas evoked a sense of mystery.
The idea of cooking with pink salt amused me although it was more like a fantasy than an idea. The way the chef in that forgotten TV show talked about Himalayan pink salt, I got the impression that it was hard to find and, most probably ultra expensive.
Then, a few days ago, on a visit to Indian food stores in Manila, I discovered jars and jars of Himalayan pink salt. The price? PhP120.00 for 340 grams (12 oz.). Of course, I bought one.
Himalayan pink salt
Does Himalayan pink salt magically transform a home cook’s creation into a gourmet delight? I don’t know — yet. I haven’t used the Himalayan pink salt for cooking — I’ll let you know how it turns out. But information I have gathered about it makes it more promising — it just might be something more than a snobbish chef’s claim.
First of all, Himalayan pink salt is just a marketing term. It’s really just sea salt (read the difference between sea salt and rock salt) harvested from a salt mine in Pakistan, some 300 miles from the Himalayas. It is pink because of iron oxide, the exact scientific explanation I sure as hell can’t explain neither to you nor to myself.
What makes Himalayan pink salt special is that it is a full-spectrum salt. Meaning? At the point of harvest, salt contains some 84 minerals. A natural occurrence. Whether the salt was harvested from Pakistan, the Mediterranean or some other place, sea salt has all those 84 minerals. One thing that may make Himalayan pink salt a cut above other sea salts is that, based on its location, it is untainted by environmental pollutants.
On the other hand, table salt (a.k.a. refined salt) has been dried at extremely hot temperatures, a process which scrubs off a lot of the minerals.
In other words, unrefined salt is healthier than refined salt. But how do we know if a salt is real unrefined sea salt or counterfeit sea salt? Real sea salt is never crystal clear nor blazingly white. It’s unrefined, after all. Depending on the point of harvest, sea salt may be grayish, brownish or pink.
On page two, the Himalayan black salt.