Smoked salt is popular, as is anything with a smoky flavor. But the use of ash is popping up more and more too. Mixed with a great coarse salt, ash makes a fantastic finish, and adds a hint of outdoor cooking (which is especially nice when you’re stuck in a tiny apartment in winter). The world’s top restaurants are harnessing the bitter smokiness of ash on everything from marinades and rubs to crunchy, crumbled garnishes for vegetables, soups, and desserts. The ash in question is typically made from an indigenous edible grass, herbs, or wood. First time ashers should use familiar edibles—rosemary, thyme, sage—dried in whole bunches, which you can do in your kitchen by hanging them upside down for a few days.
1 large bunch of dried rosemary, thyme, or sage
1 cup unrefined sea salt
Place the dried plant material on a large sheet of foil. Working away from anything flammable, preferably in a BBQ or fireplace, light the material on fire. Hold a screen, frying pan, or lid a foot above the flame to catch any ash that may float away. Let it burn completely, then cool and transfer the ash to a small bowl. Add half the salt, mix to combine, then add the rest of the salt. Store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid for at least 1 hour before using, to concentrate the smokiness.