Most people are familiar with everyday salts. Kosher, table, various sea and seasoned salts. We use them to cook, to preserve and to flavor our foods. What else can you do with salt? When it comes to cooking I have only worked with salt in a coarse or fine grain form. A few weeks ago something caught my eye at Sur La Table. An entire block of salt. A giant pink hued monolith with a world of opportunities to be explored. Himalayan salt blocks have been around for many years. Mined from the Himalayan mountain range of Pakistan and cut into various sized slabs, these salt blocks are a nothing short of amazing.
I spent a fair amount of time speaking to the manager and picking his brain on how to use and care for these salt stones. He explained that use of the salt slab is similar to that of a normal grill; placing it over an open flame, starting at a low heat to avoid cracking the slab. One could also broil it and use it to quick cook thinly sliced veggies or small cuts of fish. Refrigerating it can turn it into a beautiful serving platter for sushi, thin cold cuts, cheeses and even desserts.
You may be asking the same question I had. How would you clean the darn thing? If it’s salt, would it not just wither away if scrubbed? And what kind of cleaning agent do you use? All was answered in one word. Salt. Salt is a natural anti microbial surface, no abrasive chemicals needed. And it won’t wither away, you wouldn’t submerge it to get it clean or leave it under running water. A quick light scrubbing and time on a drying rack will set this stone to be used over and over. He said that with proper care, larger slabs of salt can be kept for years.
I came home later and looked up videos on how to cook with it. As it turns out, you don’t really need a grill to enjoy the grilling advantages. Placing it over the open flame of a gas stove works just as well. Salt is so much more than a small grain. I encourage you to go out and try this new way of cooking your favorite proteins. I can’t wait for my grass fed steak to thaw and to grill it up on this slab of wonder. I would recommend looking at this site and popping into a bookstore and flipping through the book “Salt Block Cooking” by Mark Bitterman.