MADRID – One of Spain’s most talented chefs and gastronomical innovators wowed food experts from all over the world at the Madrid Fusion trade fair on Tuesday with a demonstration on how to crystallize salt in seconds and leave food perfectly cooked in the process.
Angel Leon, also known as “The Chef from the Seas” and as of 2017 the holder of three Michelin stars at Aponiente, his restaurant in southwestern Andalusia, stepped on Madrid Fusion’s stage and gave a workshop that drew gasps with his “Live Salt” creations.
During his masterclass, which at times resembled a journey into alchemy, Leon showed his prowess not only by crystallizing salt but also by showing that his methodology allowed him to cook all types of seafood, fish and meats to perfection with the saline substance.
Crystallizing sodium chloride by using a dehydration salt flat can deliver similar results, but in a process that can take up to two months, he said.
Live Salt is a project that Leon and his team have worked on for two years and involves using table salt – with and without added iodine – vinegar and calcium.
This mixture is then blended with water and boiled, then cooled, and poured on food, whereupon the salt crystallizes in seconds and then reaches temperatures of between 65 and 150 degrees Celsius (150-300 Fahrenheit) to leave a perfectly cooked ingredient.
Leon went on to demonstrate his technique with goose-necked barnacles, scarlet shrimps and a tataki of tuna wrapped in “sea lettuce.”
He went on to explain to EFE that his Live Salt opened up many possibilities with meat and vegetables, but his favorite ingredient for it was shellfish.
Leon said that Live Salt was a big discovery, like plankton had been once. Now that small sea creature is used in restaurants and even in home cooking all over the world.
Live Salt will be available at the three-star Aponiente restaurant as of March 19, when the new season starts, and Leon said he expected both staff and customers to have a wonderful time.
“Live Salt is a technique that really surprises in the 21st century because seeing salt crystallize in seconds right before your eyes is something beautiful,” he told EFE.
It also focused the attention on salt, a substane that is vital to the existence of the human being.
Aponiente is located in an old 19th-century tide mill, Leon said.
The mill was built in 1815 to produce energy from wave power generated by the four daily tides.
For 150 years the building was a benchmark in the flour industry in the Bay of Cadiz and became one of the biggest tide mills in Southern Europe.