contributing writers

Black Soul, Jeweled Heart : Soul of The Sea Kilauea Black Solar Sea Salt from Hawaii Kai


Fellow foodie Maura Badji. Read more of her musings on other subjects.

Black Soul, Jeweled Heart         


I admit I had never tried black sea salt before encountering the pearl-like grains of Soul of The Sea’s Kilauea Black glistening in its 12-ounce jar.    One of the few black sea salts available, Soul of the The Sea's hand-crafted version of this exotic seasoning is made with mineral rich hand-harvested Molokai sea salt and activated charcoal—a proven anti-toxin/digestive aid.   


Soul of The Sea has also received the prestigious Star Diamond Award for Outstanding Quality from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, the only gourmet salt ever to do so.


Intrigued by the ebony salt’s dramatic luster and rich aroma, I noted that Kilauea Black has been prized by international chefs as a finishing salt to enhance vegetables, meats, fish, and poultry, and as a complement to the most sophisticated recipes.   


It seemed fitting that such a jewel-like seasoning was routinely used as a finishing touch— a flourish to complete a culinary picture. 


Yet, the rich aroma of the solar salt hinted that it could readily be combined with other seasonings and spices in the body of recipes, both simple and complex.   I found that in both cases a little bit of Kilauea Black goes a long way to enhance flavors.   On grilled salmon and vegetables, a finishing sprinkle added just the needed salty top note to the slight sweetness of fish, Vidalia onions, and match-sticked zucchini.  


While perusing Hawaii Kai’s website,  I found an Asian-inspired eggplant and ground pork dish, which proved that these black crystals can meld beautifully with other elements, yet still impart a distinctive, complex flavor.   I played with the recipe, included below; it can easily be further tweaked to suit different palates, for instance tofu can be substituted for the pork, and other Asian vegetables may be added. 

Spicy Eggplant and Ground Pork with Black Sea Salt


1 tbsp. canola/olive oil blend
.5 lb. (one-half) ground pork
1 lb. diced eggplant (Chinese eggplant works best)
1 tbsp. tamari sauce
1 tsp. Black Sea Salt plus .5 tsp for finishing garnish
2 tsp. black bean paste with chili
1 tsp finely chopped garlic

1 tsp finely chopped ginger

1 tsp. seasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp raw sugar
.5 cup (one-half) vegetable broth
2 tbsp. sesame oil
.25 cup (one-quarter) chopped green onion for garnish


Heat large wok and add 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
Add eggplant and all remaining ingredients except sesame seed oil & garnishes
Cover wok, bring to a boil and simmer until eggplant is tender
Add sesame seed oil and toss to combine
Garnish with green onions and  finish with sprinkle .5 tsp of black sea salt

Serve over rice or soba noodles.

Yields two servings


Hawaii Kai’s Soul of The Sea salts and other products are available online at and at many gourmet food stores.   These distinctive salts are available in a rainbow of other flavors, including Haleakala Red (with purified and refined Red Alaea clay), Papohaku White (the basis for other Soul of the Sea varietals),

and Hanalei Green (with certified bamboo-leaf extract). 



Maura Alia Badji is a writer, poet, teacher and mother who lives and works in the Seven Cities of South-Eastern Virginia.


Awaken Savor's all natural spice blends

Read more from Maura here

Maura Alia Badji

Contributing Writer

Grocery store brands, dollar store finds,  more local fruits and veggies, less red meat, and home-cooked meals over take out---these are some of the cost-cutting measures I've adopted during this long recession. 

I like the challenge of saving the most money while getting the best food for my small family.

However, there are two things I won't stint on: good dark chocolate and fine spices. The right spices and marinades can dress up economical meals, enriching flavor and enhancing texture.  I consider it a double win if I can find reasonably priced fine spices and herbs. 

Awaken Savor's fine spice and herb blends offer exotic and enticing tastes from around the world at prices that don't break your budget. 

One of my favorite Awaken Savor blends is Ras el Hanout , a rosy-hued rub which includes saffron Subtle yet instense salt-free flavor stigma, mild paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander seed, cassia, turmeric, fennel seed, allspice, green cardamom seed, whole dill seed, galangal, nutmeg, rosebud powder, bay leaves, caraway seed, cayenne pepper, clove, mace, cubeb pepper, brown cardamom, lavender flowers, orris root.

Its subtle yet intense aroma, which reminded me of the Chicken Tikka Masala I had enjoyed for years at my favorite restaurant in Seattle, Cedars on Brooklyn, compelled me to prepare a home-cooked version. 

I also prepared chicken breasts, marinated in olive oil and pomegranate-infused wine vinegar with a pinch of salt (a habit I haven't totally dropped), and then grilled  for a quick lunch with steamed jasmine rice and greens.

Za'atar is a peppery, smoky traditional Middle Eastern blend of thyme, oregano, basil, savory, whole dry marjoram, ground sumac berries, sesame seeds, orange peel, and hyssop.  

Za'atar is something of an aquired taste.  However, I enjoyed Awaken Savor's version much more than  Penzey's Fine Spices blend, which I used a few years ago and found to be a little bitter. 

I whipped up a simple olive oil and lemon juice based marinade with a pinch of salt and chopped chives.  There was enough to divide for use on grilled tilapia filets one day and baked chicken breasts the next.  The blend has a multi-layered flavor which enhanced both the poultry and fish.

I approached Texas Tear Dropper meat rub with some trepidation. A fiery blend of chipotle, cayenne, aleppo, chiles, black peppercorns, wasabi, and mustard, I had been warned it was HOT. However, after marinading a London Broil in the rub with red wine vinegar and a little olive oil and grilling it to medium rare, I found the spice-infused meat extremely flavorful with just the right amount of heat.  It also has a strong and delicious aroma.

All Awaken Savor blends are salt free; I added a small amount of salt to two of the marinades I prepared, but you can easily do without.  They are all natural and each product comes with a recipe card that includes the origin of the blend.

Awaken Savor products are available at, and at many fine food stores.