Vegetable Salt Ash

homemade salt ash, butter, and cheese on a dark background

Ash’s intensity of flavor—including some bitterness—means it pairs particularly well with the strong taste of red meat and onions or the dense richness of cream and cheese. Try it sprinkled over finished dishes as a striking garnish. I mixed a finely pulverized blend of charred onions and leeks with smoked Maldon sea salt to create a finishing salt that adds potent umami notes. This fragrant black dust adds delicious complexity to fresh ricotta, seared mackerel and chocolate ice cream. Like the proverbial phoenix, its subtle flavors arise from the ash and come to life on the palate.


sliced onions

sliced leeks

sea salt


On a metal baking sheet, spread a single layer of sliced onions and leeks. Place under the broiler and cook, turning once or twice, until fullycharred and crisp, about an hour.

Remove from the oven, cool, then pulverize in a food processor or Vitamix, or in batches in a spice grinder. Combine powdered ash with an equal amount of sea salt (smoked or plain) and pulverize once again. Store indefinitely in a tightly sealed container.

This recipe was originally published in March of 2018.