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…onion rings…


It’s not just onion rings, of course – they’re a diversion for me – as is much of what I do in the kitchen. Maybe it’s what I love most about being in there, burying myself in prep or a task that takes care of itself and does better the more I leave it alone. I’m fresh off of another adventure in Haggis fabrication and I’ve been pondering making salt so it’s the perfect sort of thing to make on a night like this…

Background; one of the Haggis fabricators (who didn’t make it this time) not so long ago gave me a beautiful gift. It was contained in a small jar with one of those gaskets and a snapping wire assembly that secures it shut. I love little mechanical gadgets like that, but even more, I loved what was inside of it. It was homemade Porcini salt. I love the thought of ‘making’ salt, and my soul thanks her for every aspect of it. I’ve been fascinated ever since with such a beautiful and amazing thing, totally rapt in the thought of making salt of my own, pondering about the way crystals form and how different the varieties of salt are – not just in mineral content but the structure of the crystal… Tonight, I have this idea of making my own saline solution and using an atomizer to mist it into a hot vessel or oven – thinking of water evaporating and leaving bits of salt to crystalize like snowflakes forming out of the rain – thin, light, delicate little wafers… I have no idea if it would work, but it’s such a wonderful thing to ponder…

The fascinating thing about salt, really, is that no one can ever really claim to make it – it’s there – everywhere, like yeast and almost everything else. It’s a matter of reclaiming it, separating it from the liquid it’s bound in, or chipping it out of the earth. And that’s where the craft lies, I suppose, the art of it all. Because the beautiful thing about salt is, it does crystalize and have a shape it wants to gather in. It makes all of the difference in how you perceive it, how it tastes, what it does to food. If you don’t believe this, grab some Diamond Crystal Kosher salt (the salt I use for almost everything from a brine to curing to seasoning) and compare it to a course sea salt or something like Mortons Iodized table salt. You’ll see the latter two are very cubic, solid structures – made by crushing some larger solid crystal into a smaller shape. Diamond Crystal, on the other hand, is a bit more like a snow flake – flat, light and delicate. It’s a much ‘softer’ tasting salt that sticks better to things and dissolves quickly. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t taste as bitingly salty as the others…

This has virtually nothing to do with onion rings, of course – merely the sort of thing I ponder when I’m making them.

the rings, about 1/4″ thick in a very thin tempura batter (130 grams all purpose flour, an egg, and 250 ml of beer, whisked together and kept ice cold till ready to fry…)

I have an extreme affinity for onions, too, though, as I’m seeing how similar they are to making salt and bread in so many ways. They possess so many possibilities in how you merely treat them, what sort of environment you thrust them into and then leave them to become… I’m not sure why that fascinates me so much, but it does…

into 350 (fahrenheit) oil till nicely browned…

Maybe it’s because like so many things in the kitchen, sometimes you just introduce things to each other – a certain heat to an object sliced a certain way and then you just leave it alone. Maybe it’s realizing what anyone who cooks or makes anything knows – the best things don’t ever really come from your hands but from your imagination and the way certain things mingle.



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