We’re talking about plain old NaCl here right? In bigger flakes?
I can see how it would add crunch if added on top of cooked goods, but sprinkling it on chicken and then browning it for stew doesn’t seem logical to me. Wouldn’t plain old table salt do just as well? Or do recipes specify kosher salt just to be all fancy and “classy”, or something.
Regarding salts, sea salt is unrefined, table salt and kosher are refined. Table salt has additives such as Iodine. Kosher salt does not have any additives. The larger grain of kosher salt is more efficient at pulling the moisture from meats, which is why it is used in cooking meat. I also use it for pickling (no additives).
Chefs have been using kosher salt for ages because of the lack of additives - it has nothing to do with being fancy.
I can get a box of kosher salt 2 times the size of table salt for the same price as table salt - so it can be pretty cheap.
Here is a web page on some other varieties of salt.
I can get a much more precise amount of kosher salt with my fingertips than I can regular salt. Since I have the stuff around for other uses, there is no reason to have Morton’s in the house at all. So kosher salt becomes the default, even in recipes when regular salt would do just as well.
I didn’t believe it made a difference just for sprinkling on food until I did a taste test. Having big crystals distributed farther apart and maybe less evenly does taste different than tiny crystals spread more closely and uniformly. In general I prefer the kosher salt, but for a few things, like popcorn, table salt seems better.
Kosher salt is easier to handle with your fingers which is how most chefs season their food. For me, personally, I have in-built muscle memory around a particular brand of kosher salt. I can taste a dish, throw in a pinch of salt and have it come out perfectly seasoned.
This is what I’ve heard. Real chefs use it for the physical shape not because of the taste or anything.
Because it’s a larger, coarse shape, there’s a lower packing efficiency. When you grab a pinch of it, there’s less salt in the pinch because it doesn’t pack together as well as nice round grains. As such, you’re less likely to over-season the food.
Next time you’re in the supermarket, pick up some “popcorn salt”. It comes in tiny bottles, so it won’t set you back much. Popcorn salt has little tiny grains that stick in the nooks and crannies of popcorn better than table salt, so you can use less of it and get better flavor (and less wasted salt at the bottom of the bowl).
This is the precise reason. Salt is salt – almost pure sodium chloride. Chefs like the way they can sprinkle the larger grains with their fingers, but once the salt touches water, no one on Earth can taste the difference.
The bigger grains give a nice texture to things like pretzels, but the flavor is the same – just a bit more of it at once.
I’ve done many popcorn-dressing experiments over the years. Is that popcorn salt different than when I make superfine salt in my little ceramic mortar and pestle? You can get it almost flour-fine. I’ve mixed that salt with smoked paprika or toasted Sichuan peppercorn and sprinkled it on after dressing the popcorn with, for example, melted butter with chili and garlic. Maybe adding some grated smoked cheddar if I want to really gild the lilly. Nice spicy eatin’.