We Have Officially Seen It All: People Are Buying $10 Mediterranean Seawater For Cooking
If you can't cook your just-caught lobster in water you scooped directly from the Mediterranean Sea, store-bought is fine.
Nah, that wasn't something Ina Garten said; it's just something you can actually do, since a specialty foods store is now selling purified seawater from Spain.
A 1.5 liter pouch by brand Mediterranea is $9.99, and it's got a spigot on the front so you can use the salty water (diluted somewhat) for anything from boiling fettuccine to cooking potatoes.
Why pay $10 for specialty seawater instead of using the free stuff from the tap and a bit of table salt, you ask? Because Spanish chefs swear by it.
"Cook half a potato in a seawater solution (one part seawater to two parts fresh) and the other half in ordinary salted water," said Mediterranea director of operations Jorge Díaz-Crespo, according to The Guardian. "You’ll notice the difference."
"The potato doesn’t taste salty," he added. "It just tastes more of potato.”
The Guardian did a blind taste test to see if he was right, and, by golly, he was. The potato cooked in seawater had a "fuller, more rounded" flavor, tasters determined.
Cooking with seawater also eliminates the need for added salt -- or much additional seasoning at all -- attest other chefs, including Spain's 2014 Chef of the Year, Joaquín Baeza.
Baeza cooks his paella in diluted seawater and adds no extra salt. The result is a dish that tastes well seasoned, but not salty. He calls the water "the future of cuisine."
If your face has ever come close to the ocean, the water is probably the saltiest substance your taste buds have ever encountered. So could cooking with super salty seawater be healthier than using regular water and controlling the amount of salt you add?
Mediterranea answers yes. They say it's even more nutritious than cooking with granulated sea salt.
“Sea salt is a salt that’s been through a process of purification and lost a large part of its minerals,” said marketing director Albert Fernández. “Some 98 percent of sea salt is sodium chloride. In seawater, 86 percent of the minerals are sodium chloride. The other 14 percent are minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium.”
The seawater has less sodium than salts, but the risks of consuming too much salt -- cool things like high blood pressure and strained kidneys -- still stand.
Seawater Solutions (Mediterranea's American partner) boss Joe Cisneros said they're marketing the product as "the solution to salt." It's intended to be used the same way as table salt, he said, but it has less sodium chloride and more minerals, so it's safer.
"I’m convinced that you use less salt because the seawater makes the food very, very tasty," he told The Guardian.
Buying seawater might sound insane, but imagine the aura of authority it would add to a simple pasta dish. Plus, you'd literally have a slice of Spain in your dinner, even if you're eating a sad bowl of linguine on your couch. You know you want some. Snag it here.