What you are making here is a slightly elevated garnish: little balls of liquid salt coated in olive oil. Great with a martini. To make: boil ⅓ cup of water and add a ½ tablespoon of kosher salt. Dissolve. Whisk in ¼ teaspoon of agar-agar (they have it at S&S in Chico and in most health food stores elsewhere. It’s a natural thickener). Set aside for two minutes. Fill a small mason jar half full with good, cold olive oil. Really any olive oil will work here, but something a bit “greener,” a bit spicier/more peppery will hold up to better to the sharpness of a good martini.
With an eye dropper (or squeeze bottle or turkey baster), slowly drip tiny droplets of the briny liquid into the cold olive oil. Immediately you will see little salt balls form. They’re ready to use the second they’re made. Add to martini, eyedrop some extra oil on top. Serve/drink. (Note: you can also make these balls with strained olive brine, but I wouldn’t suggest it. In fact, you’ll notice that olives don’t show up in any of these recipes. Frankly, their sharp flavor overpowers the star, olive oil.)
Stephen David Caldes is a writer, home cook, and assistant professor in the Journalism and Public Relations Department at CSU, Chico. He has many hobbies, but eating with friends is his favorite.