Sal – Salt

Salt

In Argentina, refined rock salt is available in three different sizes: sal fina(fine salt), sal entrefina(semi-fine/half-refined salt), or sal gruesa(coarse salt). Kosher and harvested sea salt, in case you were wondering, are moving along at a snail’s pace in terms of rising popularity and use.

Sal Fine - Table Salt

Sal Entrefina - Semi-coarse salt

Sal Gruesa - Coarse Salt

Entrefina is great to rub or sprinkle on meats before they get roasted on the parrilla. Salt manufacturers actually advertise that little fact on their packaging with “Para la Parrilla” or “Parrillera” in large font. To go a step further, they even offer the salty stuff in huge plastic shakers for use on or off the grill.

Still sitting on the fence wondering if people in Argentina really do take their barbecue seriously? Check this out.

Salt Shaker
Take your average wine bottle, without the neck, and that’s about how big this salt shaker is.

Of course, not every asador uses entrefina nor is it exclusively used on the grill. Salt is salt to some and they see no point in setting aside table salt, for example, just because entrefina’s grains are larger or that it is marketed for use on the grill. Others prefer table salt or the more coarse sal gruesa because of their crystal sizes. For me, it depends on the meat, when you sprinkle, and whether or not you baste the meat while it’s cooking away.

With chicken I prefer table salt since the outer part of the skin gets somewhat dry and crunchy while cooking. Unless there is some basting action going on, table salt dissolves just enough to create a nice “crust”–any larger grains will most likely keep their form or fall off. However, entrefina holds up well when basting. Same for most offal.

For beef, pork, and lamb, meats that have plenty of juices and fats running around, it’s entrefina all the way. Sometimes even sal gruesa, depending on the cut and how much fat there is. The larger grains act like slow time-release capsules. While the meat is cooking away for a couple hours or more, the salt slowly dissolves into the rendering fat that self bastes the meat with salty goodness.

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6 Comment(s)

  1. It’s not quite true that “salt is salt” – one of the reasons that in the U.S. we use kosher salt for most things in a restaurant kitchen is that kosher salt has, by religious regulation, no additives. A good portion of salt here (and there, and other places) is “corrizada” (I probably spelled that wrong), i.e., free running – which is achieved by adding something to the salt so that it doesn’t stick together – it can be as simple as cornstarch, it can be something fairly industrial.

    Dan | Jan 12, 2008 | Reply

  2. With the “salt is salt”, I was referring to the previous sentence as in “salt is salt to them”. Meaning there are some who see salt as salt and don’t see any reason to use entrefina because it is marketed as a salt for the parrilla. Once again I did a horrible job of explaining what I wanted too.

    I think the major brands here use cornstarch but only add it to fine table salt, no?

    **changed the salt is salt part (original below)

    “Of course, not every asador uses entrefina nor is it exclusively used on the grill. Salt is salt and some prefer table salt while others sprinkle the more coarse sal gruesa to season their meats. “

    Asado Argentina | Jan 12, 2008 | Reply

  3. Where can one buy kosher salt in Buenos Aires?? We’re new down there and have looked for it and asked for it, neither successfully. thanks.

    Catboy | May 30, 2008 | Reply

  4. Hey Catboy,

    I asked around and it seems that the best place to acquire some is at kosher shops in Once. I don’t have any addresses for you tho. Also, you can try various dietetica shops–not sure if you’ll have any luck. I am told that they usually have coarse sea salt, if that’s ok.

    Asado Argentina | Jun 2, 2008 | Reply

  5. Hi, how would you ask for un-iodized sea salt? No one seems to understand what I need here so if you could provide a name that would be great!

    Thanks

    Ladan | Mar 18, 2010 | Reply

  6. I lived in Buenos Aires for 5 years, and this is an excellent article. I love the pictures. I even learned some things I didn’t know. The author is right about how much Argentines use Dos Anclas salt. It is synonymous with grilling. I can confidently say it’s in 99% of Argentine homes and restaurants.

    Bryce | Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

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