Photo: Hannah Whitaker

8 of 13
Salt of the Earth
It's a time-honored truth that salt is a cook's best tool, but not all varieties are created equal—a lucky few provide crackly final touches to everything from broiled fish to fresh fruit. We asked Mark Bitterman, author of Salted, to walk us through three of his favorite finishing salts.

Black Diamond
This Mediterranean large-crystal salt gets its dramatic color from activated charcoal. Its faintly earthy, tannic flavor lends itself to acidic foods like asparagus or goat cheese. "I also use it instead of caviar on a potato pancake topped with sour cream," Bitterman says.

Kauai Guava Smoked
Harvested in Hawaii, this salt is hand-smoked over guava wood. "It's balsamic-y, bacon-y, and really rustic," Bitterman says. Sprinkle it on broiled fish like halibut or sole, and you could swear you'd cooked it over a campfire.

Molokai Red
Hawaiian Alaea clay gives this salt its color, along with a dose of iron and a minerally tang. Its bold flavor complements Mexican dishes like chiles rellenos and tamales. Or "try it with fruits like melon or pear, or on the rim of a Bloody Mary," says Bitterman.