Cornish based celebrity chef, James Strawbridge, has released his new book ‘Salt and the Art of Seasoning’.
James, based at Bodinnick near Fowey, is a chef, photographer and sustainable living expert as well as the author of several cookbooks including The Complete Vegetable Cookbook, The Artisan Kitchen and Practical Self Sufficiency with Dick Strawbridge.
His latest book, Salt and the Art of Seasoning, is a passion project inspired by his love for living next to the sea in Bodinnick.
James has a passion for local food and produce and has described himself as a ‘locavore’. He works closely with a variety of food and drink brands and producers from around the country and is the UK ambassador for MSC fishing.
In addition to cooking, James creates delicious media content in his at home photography studio where he films cooking videos and shoots food photography for social media.
This book delves into the art of selecting the ideal salt variety for each dish, mastering the art when to use it and skilfully determining the appropriate quantity.
Having worked with Cornish Sea Salt for a number of years, using it in his cooking, James had developed a good understanding of how to use salt in the kitchen and on the table. But after speaking to other chefs, James soon realised that there was an absence of knowledge around the wonders of salt.
“It one of those things that I realised there’s a massive gap between what people take for granted with their knowledge how salt is used on a table or in a kitchen versus some of the expertise that helps make your food taste better if you understand the basics and the science of salt.
“I was really keen to write this book because I felt that it is hopefully a book that can make other cookbooks taste better once you understand what a pinch of salt means or what seasoning to taste really means and how to use a particular salt for a certain job in your kitchen.”
The book is full of recipes, essays and techniques; there is an abundance of delectable food photography, explanations into what is salt, an explanation into the different types of salt such as rock salt and sea salt. The book then takes you on an around the world journey of the different ways that salt is created in different countries.
“What I wanted to do was inspired people to not just tar all salts with the same brush and say ‘salt is bad’, actually table salt is not very good I don’t use it in my kitchen but a good sea salt or even a complex rock salt such as Persian blue such has a gorgeous blue colour too it, can be wonderful and also it can get to a point like wine, you might have a wine which is really cheap and good for cooking with and then you might have a fancy bottle to have with a meal and then you might have a very special occasion one, its the same with salts.
“There’s salts that you just want to throw into your pasta pan or boiling your vegetables, then there’s other ones that you finish food with that are a bit more delicate and packed full of extra flavour and then you might have something super special like a flavoured salt that you make, the elderflower or garlic flowers down here in Cornwall, you can preserve that in a salt and then have something that you bring to the table which is a little bit special”
“It’s trying to change our mindset from salt as a commodity to being something that is a massive useful way of enhancing and amplify flavour in our food and I think my book, I hope, is basically a big long love letter to salt now.”
Having eaten every recipe in the book, James picked out his favourite — grilled Cornish sardines or pilchards in old money just landed in from Old Mounts Bay or Newlyn harbour with a pinch of local sea salt.
James said: “Its one that I adapt all the time deepening what’s in the fridge, they are sea certified so they are sustainable, with a pinch of salt and a bit of pepper and them fresh seasonal produce is very hard to beat for me. When tomatoes start emerging from poly tunnels or greenhouses around the place, a bit of fresh tomato with a pinch of sea salt on sour dough and a grilled sardine. It’s Cornish Riviera, Mediterranean inspired but its all local”
James has ambitions to write another cookbook focused on cooking with fish and sustainable fisheries. “I think a lot of people are a bit nervous when it comes to preparing and filleting and cooking fish and shellfish so I want to show it’s dead easy, really healthy and right on your doorstep” he commented.
James will also be appearing at the Fowey Literary festival this weekend (May 20) with this book and Bude Literary festival on May 18.
To find out more about the Salt and the Art of Seasoning visit: www.strawbridgekitchen.com