health concerns

S.O.S.! These Salty Dishes May Be on the Endangered Menu

Now is the time for all good eaters to come to the aid of their restaurants. We must stop Mayor Bloomberg's reckless campaign to reduce sodium in restaurant food by 20 percent over the next five years. Grub Street says, "Enough!" We don’t fear hypertension as much as we dread underseasoned vegetables. We must rise up to protect our cured meats and pungent pickle products! To help us imagine a world with reduced salt, we asked several chefs to I.D. the saltiest dishes on their menu. Read on through your salty tears and remember, these entrées may one day be gone.

Eric Ripert, Le Bernardin
Dish: Smoked Yellowfin Tuna “Prosciutto”
Why it needs salt: “The tuna is cut and seasoned and placed between two leaves of rehydrated kombu then sous-vide. It’s served topped with smoked salt, smoked trout roe, pickled Japanese vegetables, and a tuile of the kombu. The salt is essential in drawing out the moisture of the tuna and giving it a very meaty-mouth feel. Then the richness of the tuna is both highlighted and balanced by the salt-pickled vegetables.”

Bobby Helen, Resto
Dish: Chorizo, Lardo, Beets, and Brussels Sprouts
Why it needs salt: “We make our sausages here. For the chorizo, we need to up the salt because of the smokiness and the spices. A lot of people think salt is salt, but it’s a flavor amplifier. It would be really bland without it. You miss the layering of flavors. You won’t get cumin; you might get chili flakes; and you can lose the pork flavor.”

Amanda Freitag, the Harrison
Dish: Grilled Pork Chop with Cannellini Beans, Escarole, and Crispy Pancetta
Why it needs salt: “Pork on pork is not a crime. The pork chop is actually quite lean and it needs additional fat and salt, so the pancetta plays that role perfectly. It’s chopped finely with rosemary, thyme, and garlic, then melted and crisped in the pan. And it’s amazing.”

Mathieu Palombino, Motorino
Dish: Sopressata Pizza
Why it needs salt: “Sopressata and Pecorino contain a lot of salt to start — and that’s also why this pie is one of the favorites. Your mouth becomes very watery when it comes in contact with salt and it amplifies the reception of the flavors. The salt definitely makes your mouth fully aware. I think a 5-year-old could have come up with the combination. What pairs better than sausage and cheese? Do they plan on coming to my restaurant and measuring how much salt I put on my food?”

Andrew Carmellini, Locanda Verde
Dish: Cucumber and Radish in Tuna Dressing
Why it needs salt: “Cucumber and radish have tons of water in them, so you need to make them extra salty, because when you bite down, more liquid is released on your palate, thus watering down your seasonings. We dress them with housemade tuna belly, tons of anchovies, lemon, olive oil, garlic, and even more salinity in the form of bottarga.”

Carmellini issued this closing battle cry: “LONG LIVE SALT!”

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