Cooking on Himalayan Salt Plates
By Chef Lippe
Salt from the Himalayans is millions of years old. It is made up of 84 minerals all of them existing naturally in the human body. There are many healing benefits to using Himalayan salts, including lowering blood pressure and improving circulation. It is used for many things; you can take a hot sauna buried in it; cook with it; cook on it; bath with it; make lamps with it; or just use it for decoration. Himalayan salt is considered the purest form of salt.
The most common way of using these beautiful salt blocks is for serving sushi, salads and appetizers. But they are also great for cooking on. The wetter the food the more salt taste that transfers. You can heat a 2 inch thick piece of salt safely to 900 degrees. If you are using your stove top you will need to raise the block so that it does not come in direct contact with the heating element.
You can use it on your BBQ grill, in your oven, or even cook on it right at the table and the wonderful flavor will have you coming back for more. Seared scallops, thinly sliced beef or chicken, eggs and vegetables are some favorite items cooked on Himalayan Salt. If you freeze it you can serve ice cream on it and if you have never had salty ice cream you don’t know what you are missing.
A Himalayan salt block will retain heat or cold for a long time which is why it is so popular as a serving and cooking utensil. To heat it start on low heat for 15 minutes and then increase it to medium for another 15 minutes. To cook on it, the temperature needs to be at least 500 degrees and the meat needs to sizzle when it touches the salt. It should retain its heat for at least 20 minutes. One word of caution is to make sure that your piece of Himalayan salt is cooking grade and not table grade.
To clean your Himalayan salt cool it overnight (or at least cool to room temperature). Rinse under warm water then scrub, and rinse again. DO NOT use soap on it, or wash in dishwasher. Store in a location that humidity is at a minimum, we recommend that you store it in a plastic bag as the salt can be corrosive over time. Do not store or lay on metal (copper, bronze, etc.) surfaces. With proper care your salt block will last for years.
Once your plate breaks and sooner or later it will save the pieces to be ground up and use it in cooking.
Here are some ways that you can use your Himalayan salt plates:
- Arrange thinly sliced Capaccio or sashimi on a cool salt platter and watch as the food literally salt-cures while at the table.
- Heat your platter and then set on a trivet at the table, and sauté fish, thin cut slices of beef and veggies while your family watches.
- Use it on the BBQ grill to cook stuffed monkfish, flank steaks or even Portobello mushrooms.
- Freeze your salt block for 2 hours and then slowly pour over it, lifting with a spatula a lightly whipped sweet heavy cream, egg, honey and aged bitters for ice custard that no one will soon forget.
- One of our favorite uses for the smaller block is to use it as a butter dish.
- Use it in the oven to cook bread, pizza or pastries on.
- Once you block breaks, smash it up with a hammer and use in your bath or as a pumice stone or grind it up into a fine powder and use as table salt.
While impressing your guests with your culinary skills you can share your knowledge of history. This salt started out millions of years ago at the bottom of the sea. Over many lost ages the land encasing the seabed rose up and became the Himalayas. Fish began to swim in the sea and dinosaurs grew to towering heights while this salt laid hidden deep in the mountains. Sometime around 326 BC, Alexander the Great found his horses licking the rocks in what is now known as Pakistan, and you had the discovery of salt. Some eighteen centuries later Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar became the greatest Mughal emperor and one of his two lasting contributions were art and the introduction of standardized salt mining. Yes the salt that you are cooking on was made 500 million years ago.
A few things that you need to keep in mind when cooking on salt are:
- the amount of moisture in the food will dictate how much salt you will taste when eating your meal;
- Time matters, the longer you cook on it the more salt will be absorbed by your food. Have all your items cut into thin slices that will cook fast.
- Get the salt block nice and hot so that food is seared and not steamed.
- Use a light coating of olive oil (butter will add to the level of salt) on your salt block before you start.
Visit our online shop for your next piece of Himalayan salt and enjoy all the great ways to use it this summer.
SHRIMP AND SCALLOP KABOBS
2 pound of shrimp peeled and deveined
2 pound of sea scallops (try to get the same size as shrimp)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup molasses
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon mustard
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cayenne chili powder
Combine brown sugar, lemon juice, molasses, basil, oil, mustard, honey, clove, cayenne powder in a large bowl. Toss in shrimp and scallops and toss to cover, refrigerate for two hours. Meanwhile, put wooden skewers to soak. About one hour before you are ready to cook start to heat up your Himalayan salt stones on the gas grill (heat stones on low heat for 15 minutes, and then medium heat for 15 minutes, then high heat for 15 minutes). Stones should be 500 degrees before you start to cook.
Thread one shrimp, one scallop (two times) on skewers.
Place on heated stones and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until shrimp turns pink.
Serve with grilled corn and asparagus and a nice potato salad.