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Coconut Roasted Sea Salt from the Philippines

Coconut Roasted Sea Salt from the Philippines

A dinosaur egg of salt—not for everyone.

There are a few products on our shelves that are straight up odd in a good, flavorful way, but the fact is most folks can live without them. (Like Wild Mugolio Pine Syrup.)

And then there are products like this: Asin Tibuok: a dinosaur egg of sea salt from Philippines. 

To be clear, no dinosaurs were harmed or used to make this incredible salt (they're still extinct at last check), but the process to make this sea salt is almost as old as the Jurassic period. For centuries, coastal salt makers in the Philippines preserved salt and traded it with rice growers living inland. Instead of a loose, granular sea salt like we're used to seeing in clean glass jars, Asin Tibuok is a solid block of sea salt encased in a clay pot. That made for easy transportation and storage back then. Today, it's one of the most unique and tasty salts you could ever use in your cooking.

To fully appreciate this salt, you have to hear the process. Not only is it amazing tasting salt with flavors you'll never find in any other sea salt, the production takes more than a week and is a dying art in the Philippines. Here we go:

  1. Sea water is gathered in shallow pools on the shore, replenished with fresh water at every high tide.
  2. Coconut husks are placed in the pools, absorbing the sea water until they're swollen like a sponge.
  3. The husks are removed, cut into pieces, and allowed to settle in a hut for days.
  4. The pieces of husk are piled and slowly burned for nearly a week until only the salt infused ashes remain.
  5. The ashes are placed in a bamboo funnel. Sea water is poured over the ashes, leaching out the salt, and the new brine is collected.
  6. Rows of small clay pots are placed over fires of fallen palm fronds and filled with the brine.
  7. In the pots, the brine boils, evaporating the water and leaving the salt behind. As it boils, more brine is added until the pots are filled with solid salt...about three hours later.
  8. The salt is done when the bottom of the clay pot pops, breaking off and exposing the solid salt inside.
  9. The salt is washed with clean water, exposing the solid white block contained by the remaining parts of the clay pot.

From that point on, the salt is preserved, ready for transport, and ready to eat. It is a surprisingly smooth salt with small grains here and there. But the flavor is unlike any salt you can find: smoky, whispers of coconut, a little woody, a little nutty, and mild. It's not an intensely salty experience, but rather a nuanced, complex flavor I've never encountered in sea salt in all my career. 

Can you live without it? Sure. We have lots of other sea salt choices and they're all great. But after more than two decades of food finding and learning I can honestly say this is the most unique, interesting, flavorful sea salt around. Even if it wasn't amazingly flavorful, the history and rarity of this salt are more than enough to justify the cost. 

A very special gift for someone very special on your list. 

Coconut Roasted Sea Salt from the Philippines

P-ASN 1 "egg," approx. 2 lbs