The first time I ordered tempura in Japan, I was surprised that instead of the usual bowl of dipping sauce, one or two flavored dipping salts were served alongside. Surprise turned to joy when I realized dipping salts are the perfect match for fried foods, lending a ton of flavor without weighing them down.
Fried foods with a very light and crispy batter like tempura are especially good with dipping salts, because nothing interferes with the ethereal texture of the coating. But even chunks of fried chicken or fried okra would be great eaten this way.
I mixed a small amount of matcha, black pepper and smoked paprika with some fleur de sel for the salts pictured above, but pretty much any finely-ground seasoning is fair game. (Chunkier herbs and spices can be ground more finely in a spice grinder before being mixed with the salt.) How about crushed black sesame, finely grated lemon zest, or chili powder? Here are a few more seasoning ideas:
• Garam masala
• Porcini powder
• Sichuan peppercorns
• Mandarin orange dust
Do you ever make dipping salts? What are your favorite ways to season them?
Related: Ingredient Obsession: Flavored Salts
(Image: Anjali Prasertong)