How do I use my salt block?
How do I look after my salt block?
How does a salt block work?
How do I use my salt block for cooking?
How do I chill my salt block?
How do I clean my salt block?
How do I store my salt block?
Uh oh! My salt block is cracking!
My food is too salty!
How do I use a salt block?
- Cooking - all you need to do is heat the salt block slowly on the BBQ, grill, oven or on a stove top (electric or gas) and then you are ready to cook pretty much anything you would normally BBQ or grill (meat, fish, eggs, bread, pizzas, vegetables etc.)
- Chilling – you can chill the salt block in the fridge and prepare cold foods on it to give a delicious salty taste (e.g. guacamole)
- Curing – salt blocks can partially or fully cure meat or fish. Raw foods like sashimi will actually begin to cure the longer they rest on the salt block
- Presenting – for a real wow factor use a heated block at the table or chill it and serve your cheese, sashimi, charcuterie or ice-cream on it for a lovely salty flavour
How do I look after a salt block?
The salt block may be beautiful, but it is not high maintenance. Aside from being heated slowly (30 mins), all it requires is being cleaned afterwards (simply with a damp sponge or scouring pad) and stored properly (in plastic wrap). That’s it. Low maintenance, we would say. So unleash your inner chef, embrace the salt block and enjoy the rewards of delicious food every time!
How does it work?
Salt blocks are incredibly dense and naturally conduct and retain heat at extreme temperatures. Not only can they be hot enough to cook on, but they can also be chilled.
When you cook on a Himalayan block the heat and salt work together in a magical way to produce salty-toasty-caramelised flavours and delicately crisped surfaces. Yummy.
Chilling the block and putting meats or fish on it has the impact of lightly curing the food.
How do I use it for cooking?
Heating a salt block is easy, but you do need to get it right.
- Heat the block slowly and evenly. This is especially important when using the block for the first few times as the block as it acclimatizes to its new use. (Remember it has been sitting inside the Himalayan Mountains for thousands of years.) Salt blocks can crack if they are heated (or chilled) too quickly as any moisture trapped inside expands. We recommend heating your block in three 10 -15 minute stages. First a low heat (no higher than 100 degrees C), then a medium heat (no higher than 180 degrees C) and finally a high heat (no higher than 220 degrees C). This staged approach is especially important when first using it and if it has been stored in a high moisture space for long periods. Always keep the block at least a couple of cms from the flame and slab and use a diffusing ring on electric stove tops.
- Make sure the block is hot. The block needs to be hot enough to ensure that moisture from food is evaporated and doesn’t pool moisture, dissolve the salt and stew the food in salt. To see if it is ready, an easy test is to hold your hand 5cms away from the block (be careful) and if the heat is intense, it is ready. If it is just making your hand nice and warm then you need to keep heating it. PLEASE DON’T TOUCH YOUR BLOCK WHEN IT IS HOT!
- Use stainless steel implements. Not plastic. And don’t be afraid to pull out some chef like moves and put some energy into it. Salt blocks are not non stick, so you may want to use some oil too (which will also prevent the food from becoming too salty). You may need to steady the block with a thick oven mitt as you flip your food around.
- Leave the block to cool after you have finished cooking your culinary masterpiece. Keep it away from stray hands until it is at room temperature.
How do I chill my salt block?
Chill your block in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 3 hours and use it to prepare cold foods. We don’t recommend freezing your salt block as they may crack and cause the food to become too salty as the block returns to room temperature (and starts to sweat).
How do I clean it?
Wait until the block is at room temperature and then scrub away any areas with food on, or that appear glazed with a damp sponge or scourer. Pat dry with a paper towel and leave to dry.
Please note that your salt block will look like it has been used for cooking and a little less pristine each time you use it. This shows it is loved, so don’t judge it. If it really bothers you, we recommend you get one for cooking and one for food presentation. Problem solved.
And just in case you were wondering – don’t put your salt block in the dishwasher. It will create a terrible mess of dissolved salt. Nobody wants that.
How do I store my block?
In Australia we have a humid climate, so it is important to wrap your block in sealed plastic when you are not using it. Some people put paper towel around it first and then wrap in a plastic bag, and others use plastic wrap. Your choice.
UH OH – my block is cracking …
Don’t fret – this is pretty normal. Salt is relatively soft and your block will naturally develop cracks and crevices. If you heat it slowly and evenly then you will get many happy years out of your block.
My food is too salty
Don’t despair – if some of your dishes are too salty, here are the main culprits:
- The salt block isn’t hot enough – this means the food won’t be able to sear and cook and, therefore, will spend too much time on the block, leaking moisture and and absorbing too much salt. Makes sense, right?
- Food that has a high moisture content – wet food will dissolve more of the surface of the salt block, which will cause more salt to adhere to the food. To overcome this, you can place garnishes (think bundles of fresh herbs) under the food, or you can use oil to coat the block first which will stop too much salt being transferred to the food. And definitely pat wet food with a paper towel before putting it on the block.
- Food that has been on the salt block for too long – if you are using the salt block for presentation, don’t leave food sitting on it for too long. Serve it and eat it, however pretty it looks.