San Francisco Salt Company Gourmet Chef Salts

Reviewer’s Note: Product samples discussed here were provided at no cost in exchange for my honest review.

A trio of gourmet chef salts came our way a short while ago, courtesy of the San Francisco Salt Company. A purveyor of premium sea salt and specialty chef salts since 2002, San Francisco Salt Company makes dozens of worldly salt flavors and styles from Black Truffle Sea Salt to Sriracha to a range of sea salts smoked with hickory, apple wood, and more. The three samples we received were the company’s Ultimate Blend Chef Salt, Chili Lime Sea Salt, and its Whisky Smoked Irish Sea Salt.

Beginning the sampling process with the Chili Lime Sea Salt, I found the chili fragrance to leap from the package right away. That the smell of limes was not as expressive was unsurprising, given the potency of the chili aromas. The smell was pleasant nonetheless, a harbinger of good things to come. Guacamole features among the recommended pairings for this salt, and a sprinkling really brought alive the salt’s lime essence, revealing that aspect to bestow its gifts more upon the palate than the nose. Because a chili-lime salt blend seems made for seafood, a meal of pan-seared shrimp and pineapple and one of baked salmon were the logical next steps to take. In each case, the citrus twist woven through the smoldering of roasted chili heat was welcome in a way that lingered between bites. It should be noted that besides being as well-suited to livening up a rice course or Mexican-style chicken entrée, this one also makes a memorable rimming salt for a margarita (perhaps one served with a splash of cinnamon whisky to provide an added touch of warmth.)

The Ultimate Blend Chef Salt brings together Pacific Sea Salt, French Grey Salt, and Himalayan Gourmet Salt. Differences in the various textures make this one the most interesting in terms of its tactile presence on the tongue. A dash of this salt made a great finishing flourish over desserts like vanilla ice cream or ones that feature caramel sauces. As for savories, it would do wonders for veggies like grilled sweet corn, roasted carrots and sunchokes, and grilled mushrooms, or massaged into the skin of a roasting chicken before the bird goes into the oven.

The finest grind of the trio, the almost talc-like Whisky Smoked Irish Sea Salt is redolent of smoked oak and ghosts of aged alcohol. On the tongue, the whisky flavor takes a decisive step forward, with sweet barrel wood and smoke close on its heels, validating suggestions first made in its aroma. This is one to reserve for burgers, pork chops, and grilled or pan-seared steaks. Or to apply a kiss of inebriated smoke to your favorite Bloody Mary recipe. Or add a touch of style to a breakfast scramble or fried rice dish. The trifecta of whisky, wood, and smoke imparted a grown-up sensibility to each food it touched—the steaks in particular—in a way that made me wish I were sharing the sampling experience with friends, and resolve to do so in the near future.

Each of the gourmet chef salts reviewed here is 100% natural and Kosher Certified. Learn more about the San Francisco Salt Company and all its products at


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