Hi, I'd very much like to make Nigella's Salted Caramel Sauce but unfortunately have no fleur de sel. Could you suggest a suitable alternative?
Fleur de Sel ("flower of salt") is a flaky sea salt. It is made by chanelling sea water onto flat plains and letting the water evporate. The top crust of salt is then carefully scraped away and used to make fleur de sel. Although fleur de sel is most commonly assiciated with the Atlantic costal regoin of France, it is also now produced in several other countries, such as Spain, Portugal and Canada.
The salt is usually slightly damp and often grey or pink in colour - this colouring comes from minerals in the area of production. These minerals can also add to the flavour of the fleur de sel and many people feel that sea salt flakes generally have a "cleaner" salt taste, without the bitterness of some table or pouring salts. Fleur de sel it is usually used at the last minutes as a finishing salt as the flakes add a slight crunch to a dish.
If you can't find fleur de sel then good quality sea salt flakes would be the closest substitute. Maldon has finer flakes than fleur de sel but in the recipe the volume will be roughly similar and as you should use your own taste buds as a guide then start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more if you like. Cornish sea salt and Halen Mon salt are two other good quality British sea salts and depending on where you live fine Hawaiian pink salt could also be a substitute. These should all be used in the same quantities. And if you want to use fine flowing sea salt instead then do so sparingly, and taste carefully as you go.