Take the 2-minute tour ×
Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I don't have any Kosher salt on hand and I'm cooking a rib eye steak tonight. Can I just use table salt, or would that drastically effect the taste of the steak?

Why is Kosher salt better to use?

share|improve this question
6  
@woliveirajr Kosher salt is not connected to Judaism. It is just a US term for coarse salt. The name comes from being marketed for a specific cooking practice needed in kosher cuisine, but it is used wherever an European would use sea salt. –  rumtscho Jan 24 '13 at 16:01
    
@rumtscho Wrong. It's called Kosher salt because it's used to remove surface blood from meat; consuming blood is one of the things forbidden by Kashrut laws. –  Isaac Rabinovitch Jan 24 '13 at 22:55
3  
@IsaacRabinovitch This is the "specific cooking practice" I was referring to. Still, it is used for dozens of other purposes, and this one (from which it got its name) is only one of them. So most non-kosher cooks will have good experience with it, no need to search for a specialist in kosher cooking to answer this question (as somebody suggested in a now-deleted comment). –  rumtscho Jan 24 '13 at 23:20

4 Answers 4

The reason people choose Kosher/Sea/Rock salt over table salt is mainly down to the crystal size and the lack of additives like iodine.

Kosher salt is less soluble and less dense than table salt.

The large crystals in these salts mean that unless there is a fair bit of water present they don't completely dissolve. This means it is less likely you'll over salt steak even if it's caked in crystals.

Table salt will dissolve with far less water present and will, therefore, get absorbed more easily into the meat.

Also the lower density means you can liberality sprinkle Kosher/Sea/Rock salt on things and even if it does all dissolve you've actualy added less salt than you would think. It looks like a lot but 1g of Kosher/Sea/Rock salt takes up a lot more space than 1g of table salt.

1tsp table salt would be way too much. I'd go for about half the volume of Kosher salt if you were dissolving it in liquid and maybe as little as quarter the volume if I was using it as a rub (as in salting a steak).

share|improve this answer
    
crystal size is the main thing, plus it spreads better. Coarse salt can also be used for a different effet on beef. –  Pascal Belloncle Jan 31 '13 at 8:45
    
Some people like more salt, especially if they just do a quick sear. I wouldn't necessarily say that 1 tsp is "way too much", although I suppose for someone trying this for the first time, some fairly liberal shaking of the salt shaker would be better as a starting point, just to get a baseline for the flavour. Easier to add salt than take away... –  Aaronut Feb 9 '13 at 1:13

Kosher salt is processed differently and has no iodine in it, so some people like the flavor better. It's not going to make that much difference, any salt will do. Just don't oversalt it, you want to taste the meat, not the salt.

share|improve this answer
    
As for over salting, I read somewhere that 1 tsp of salt per side is a good idea? –  Archey Jan 24 '13 at 16:14
1  
Lord no @Archey! 1 tsp per side is far, far too much! Beef already has a load of flavor, a small pinch of salt on either side and some fresh pepper (pepper after cooking so it doesn't get bitter) and job done. –  GdD Jan 24 '13 at 16:30
    
Thanks, @GdD :) –  Archey Jan 24 '13 at 16:41
    
+1 @GdD - 1 tsp per side is "far, far too much!" –  colejkeene Jan 25 '13 at 14:29

You don't describe the recipe, so it's hard to say why the author insisted on Kosher salt. If you're supposed to rub the salt on the steak to remove surface blood, then kosher salt is more effective than table salt. If the salt is just a seasoning, Kosher salt (which has bigger granules than table salt) will add a grittiness that some people enjoy.

Either way, you're not going to ruin the steak just by substituting table salt. You just won't get the precise effect the recipe was aiming at. Which is a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the taste of the people eating the steak, but a minor thing in any case.

share|improve this answer

The difference in salt is more related to how the salt is being used. So for the purpose of quickly salting before cooking or at the table any type of salt will do.

However if you are salting your meat at least an hour in advance and letting it rest before cooking (which I HIGHLY recommend you do) then using the larger grains of Kosher salt has a positive effect. Salting the meat causes the proteins contained in the meat to change and allows the meat to retain juices significantly better. At the same time some of the salt is pulled into the meat as the water that has been drawn out of the meat through osmosis is reabsorbed back into the meat near the end of the hour. Using a finer grain salt, such as table salt, will allow significantly more salt to be absorbed into the meat. Using a coarse grain salt, kosher, will mean a more perfectly salted piece of meat.

For reference see: http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/03/the-food-lab-more-tips-for-perfect-steaks.html

share|improve this answer
1  
"salt is pulled into the meat via osmosis" is wrong. Osmosis doesn't work this way. The whole point of it is that ions are not exchanged (the semi-permeable membrane doesn't let them through) so the gradient is reduced by water traveling from the less-salty to the more-salty side. The salt never travels anywhere in osmosis, it "pulls" the water. –  rumtscho Jan 24 '13 at 23:23
    
@rumtscho That statement is in the summary, not the original source cited :-) Kenji Alt's original article does say that osmosis draws the water out of the steak. –  SAJ14SAJ Jan 25 '13 at 7:57
    
@rumtscho I have corrected the summary, thanks for catching that I definitely mis-read/remembered that! –  EEP Jan 25 '13 at 14:21

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.