Salt has always been a popular condiment. We add it to a lot of the food we cook, serve, and eat. But for many of us who are worried about our sodium levels, there is now a better option – Himalayan Salt Blocks.
A commercially-available Himalayan Salt Block, as its name suggests, is a hand-cut sophisticated-looking large block of pink salt that has been polished and carved to fit various cooking and serving needs. They are mined from the Himalayan Salt Range in Pakistan where the mountains help protect the salt from pollution, thus preserving the salt’s natural purity. They are usually pink in color, but can also be crystal white or deep red depending on the mineral content. Because of their limited availability and difficulty to mine, they are considered as a gourmet-grade type of salt.
By cooking or serving a dish on the salt block, it will add a subtle but rich salt flavor without the need to add excessive amounts of regular salt to your food. It is great for grilling steaks, for serving cold food like sashimi and cheese, and even for curing salmon.
Why It Will WOW You and Your Guests
Superior Searing of Meat, Fish, and Vegetables. Unlike cooking on a pan, the heat will spread evenly throughout the entire salt block because of its crystalline structure. This means that all the food cooked on the block will be cooked evenly regardless of their position. This is great for cooking meat, fish, and vegetables. Imagine the look, taste, and smell of a steak or trout fillet that is cooked evenly from top to bottom. Now, there’s no need to just imagine this when you get a Himalayan Salt Block for yourself.
Healthier than Adding Regular Salt. Minerals, such as potassium and calcium, are abundant in a block of Himalayan Salt. They are great for regulating your body fluids, improving digestion, and lowering your blood pressure. These minerals also add a complex, unique, and rich taste that you won’t get from regular salt. And because of the low porosity and moisture retention of these salt blocks, they will only add a hint of saltiness to your food – meaning less sodium as well.
Keeping Cold Food Cold. Serve sushi, cheese, cold cuts, shellfish, ice cream, and so many more cold dishes on a salt block and you will be amazed by how long they’ll retain their nice and cool temperature. This means you don’t have to worry about your dishes getting warm while you are doing something else.
They Look Great. A great dining experience is a combination of not only what you taste and smell, but also what you see. The Himalayan Salt Block’s natural, gorgeous, sophisticated, and almost luminous appearance makes them great for serving platters. If you’re planning to serve baked goods, such as cookies, they can also enhance their depth of flavor by adding a complex and subtle salt taste.
Naturally Anti-Microbial Surface. You won’t have to worry about germs on a Himalayan Salt Block because their low moisture retention and porosity create a naturally anti-microbial environment. This means they’re also easy to clean and maintain. All you need to do is to simply wash them under warm water and then scrub lightly using a soft sponge or brush. It is important not to submerge it in water, not to use soap, and not to use oil. After washing, thoroughly remove excess pockets of water and then air-dry for at least 24 hours before using it again. Finally, store it in a location where there is minimal humidity.
Cooking on a Salt Block
You can totally skip adding any salt to your dish when you cook with a Himalayan Salt Block. Its naturally high moisture content allows it to be heated or chilled to extreme temperatures, so it can be used to cook and serve both hot and cold dishes. Either way, you need to prepare them ahead of time before you do anything.
Caution Hot! Himalayan Salt Block Cooking.
Himalayan Salt Blocks are natural products that have lines inside their internal structure. This is why it is important to heat and temper the salt block properly, especially during the first few times that it is used; otherwise, it might crack or break. But if used correctly, it will last for a very long time. If you will be using it primarily for cooking, you should opt for a cooking-grade salt block that is thicker and has less lines.
To begin cooking on your salt block, first you need to heat it at the lowest setting for about 20 minutes and then repeat the procedure for the medium and high settings. Check if it’s already around 500°F by using a thermometer or by splashing water and seeing if it evaporates very quickly. After that, it can already be used for cooking. Be careful when touching it as it can retain the heat for quite a long time. The best kinds of food to cook are those that cook fast. These include thin cuts of steak, eggs, shrimp, fish fillets, asparagus, and scallops.
Keep it Cool! Himalayan Salt Block Chilling.
For chilled dishes, such as sushi, carpaccio, and cheeses, simply chill the salt block in your freezer for about an hour ahead of serving time. They are also great for serving many kinds of condiments, such as butter, wasabi, and pickled ginger, and fruits such as watermelons and apples.
For desserts like ice cream and sorbet, freeze the block for about two hours first. This helps ensure that they do not melt as fast. You can also add syrup, nuts, and other ingredients to them while on the salt block.
If you will be using the salt block primarily for serving, there are salt blocks that have more lines which add more detail and beauty to the blocks. However, these salt blocks can break more easily and are not recommended for cooking.
Getting Started — Simple Pink Himalayan Salt Block Ideas
Lemon Garlic Scallops. Marinade scallops overnight in a mixture of lemon juice, fresh ginger, and a bit of garlic. Grill on the salt block and enjoy one of the most amazingly crispy and golden brown scallops you’ll ever have.
Bacon Wrapped Asparagus. Get some asparagus, rinse, and wrap with bacon. Cook the bacon on the salt block until it has a nice brown color and has tightened its hold on the asparagus. The asparagus will be moist and the bacon crispy. You might also want to add balsamic vinegar or sesame dressing for an extra dash of flavor.
Seared Tuna Steaks. Prepare a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, orange juice, honey, and mustard in a bowl for marinating your tuna steaks in. Cover and then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Grill the tuna steaks on the salt block for about 5 minutes. Turn each tuna steak and cook for an additional 5 minutes. You’ll find that the unique properties of the salt block has helped you make an elegant seared tuna dish with an amazing and complex flavor that will keep you coming back for more.
If you want to further improve your salt block experience, you might want to pick out some accessories. There are salt block tote bags and salt block frames with handles that help prevent damage whenever you’re traveling with them or using them in your kitchen.
Also, when salt blocks are heated, they may change color and develop fissures. These are natural and they are nothing to worry about. In fact, they even add a certain charm to your well-loved salt blocks.
Cooking and serving food on a salt block is a fun and novel way of entertaining your guests. With its unique flavor, your loved ones will certainly remember these meals for many years to come.