Himalayan Salt Block: Build Layers of Flavor Without Worry
Cook with a salt block? Yes, you read that right and you don’t need to be a chef or a true-blue selmelier (a salt connoisseur) to know how to use a Himalayan salt block and enjoy the natural flavors it brings.
Consider it an ancient method of cooking since the average salt slab is approximately 200-500 million years old.
You can sear meats on salt plates by slow heating them. You have the option to pre-heat it or slow-heat it on the grill before placing your meat or vegetables on the salt slab.
You can even chill the Himalayan salt plates for serving sushi, cold meats, cheese, fruits, appetizers and cold desserts such as ice cream and sorbets!
Indeed, it’s quite easy to pique anyone’s culinary curiosity with a salt block, and for special occasions, a small rose-colored crystalline salt slab may even look quite fancy on your dinner table.
Salt Block Basics
Alternatively, you can also moist cook the meat over the salt slab through a relaxed pace of glazing that allows the meat’s connective tissue to open up, tenderizing it, releasing its rich flavor.
But Will The Food Turn Out Too Salty?
This is a common concern and a valid one. But like any cooking method, cooking with a salt slab comes with deft techniques, so the trick is to be smart about the length of contact of your food with the salt block.
A common technique is to sear the meat fast enough if the salt block is heated on high, or risk expecting unintended intense flavors if you leave it on for too long.
Another technique is to do a light glaze just to season the surface; this quick contact will leave the food with a salty coating, while the innermost parts remained practically untouched by the salt.
We’re used to the salt in our kitchen that is fine, rocky or flaky.
But with a salt slab, you need to be mindful of your cooking time, it isn’t rocket science, you just need to know how to control the depth and balance of flavors.
When you use a Himalayan salt slab, there’s no need to pre-salt the meat or do corrective salting after cooking. It should be tasty enough, giving your dish a depth of flavor that you just won’t get the normal way of using judicious pinches of salt or seasoning off with pepper.
If done the right way, cooking with a salt slab shouldn’t be needlessly complicated; it works by giving a savory concentration of salt in layers, working its way from the surface into the center.
Once you learn a few very simple steps, you can cook absolutely anything on your Himalayan salt block from shrimp, scallops, steak, chicken, salmon, and veal.
Salt Block Care
Salt blocks are mined from deep in the Himalayans and then aptly cut in Pakistan.
Himalayan salt slabs are dubbed ‘Himalayan Gold’ due to their rarity and painstaking process to acquire the mineral, so consider it a jewel in your kitchen that deserves much care.
Cooking on a salt plate demands that you be aware of your slab thickness, temperature and cooking technique.
A sudden variation of temperature may cause it to fracture. Sure you can heat it to hundreds of degrees, but suddenly freezing it and heating it again shortly, may cause it to break.
Allot thin salt plates for freezing if you’re prepping chocolate or ice cream, and sturdier salt slabs for thick slices of steak.
Give it time. Cooking on a salt block requires that you devote ample time to perfect your techniques.
It is advisable to heat the salt block slowly for 40 minutes. (You will hear a bit of cracking if you’re heating it for the first time and that’s just normal with new salt slabs).
Remember, heat it up gradually over a low flame while raising the temperature from low to medium for around 10 minutes, then raise it up again for another 10 minutes.
When you finally reach that high temperature, you can start searing those meats.
To Oil or Not to Oil?
Some cooks would say there is no apparent need to oil the block. Adding oil, they believe, would prevent food from acquiring the richly salt flavor.
But other selmelier would disagree; in fact a little bit of oil spread evenly on the Himalayan salt plate helps, this prevents the food from sticking to the surface of the block while cooking. Olive oil is a great option.
What you should look out for are oil drips; make sure the oil doesn’t start dripping to the sides and into the stove top causing fire or a sudden unwanted flambé.
You can use a thin prong or spatula to get sticky foods off your salt block.
And before you wash your salt block, allow it to cool first before proceeding with cleaning.
Cleaning Your Salt Plate
Do not place in the dishwasher. Ever. This is a major no-no.
Your Himalayan salt block would maintain its pristine condition if you wash it by hand. When it’s cooled down, just rinse it over the tap.
You can use a regular sponge just to remove the food bits that’s stuck onto your salt plate, but do not use any detergent. If you worry too much about germs and bacteria, don’t fret as Himalayan salt blocks have natural anti-microbial properties.
It’s a low maintenance kitchen utensil that simply needs a gentle wipe, after which you can air dry and store in a cool, dry place.
Yes, it loses a layer with each use, so you might notice your salt slab getting a tad thinner over time and for good reason – you’ve been cooking a lot of delicious food on it.
Also, expect some discoloration over time.
If you want to try something new to impress your friends or simply rethink the way you view a basic ingredient such as salt, try cooking your dinner with a Himalayan salt block for an easy and elegant treat!
And below is a link to an awesome cookbook so that you don’t run out of things to cook on your new cooking tool: