HEATING SALT COOKING SLAB
Be sure the block is completely dry. If used previously, the block should have rested for at least 24 hours. Himalayan salt blocks like to be pampered, especially at first. So, as a rule, be especially careful the first few times you heat up your salt plate. The first few times you heat up your salt block, fissures and cracks will appear, and the color may change from its original pink to a whiter color. This is normal. However, after successive uses, you may find that the salt block regains some of its original hue, largely as a result of washing.
For a Gas Range: Put the your salt block on the stove top. Set heat to low, give the block at least 15 minutes to heat up. You may notice moisture accumulating at the edges. As the salt block heats, this will evaporate off. The slower you do this, the better. Allow more time for larger plates, especially 9x9x2 inch and larger. Increase the heat slowly – low-medium for 15 minutes, and then medium-high for 15 minutes. If extremely hot sauté temperatures are desired, increase flame to full high for another 5 to 10 minutes.
How do you know when your block is ready to use? If you have a laser thermometer, the block should be at least 500 degrees F. If you don’t, simply sprinkle a few drops of water on the block. If they sizzle away instantly, the block should be hot enough.
For an Electric Range: If heating on the stove-top, select a circular ring of metal, such as a tart pan with a pop out bottom, pastry ring, or wok ring, and place it on the burner. Place the salt block on top of the ring. Place a circular ring of metal such as a tart pan with a pop-out bottom to create a small air gap between the heating element and the block. Once set up, heat similarly to a gas range.
For a Grill: Place your salt block on the grate. If using a charcoal grill, keep the coals to one side and place the block on the other side, to expose it to less direct heat. If using a gas grill, start the heat on low as you would with a gas range. Increase heat slowly until the block is ready to use, as described in the gas range instructions.
For an Oven: We do not recommend using an oven to heat your salt block, as damage to your salt block and/or your oven may result. If you would like to bake on your salt plate, heat it as described above to at least three hundred degrees, and then move it into a hot oven.
COOKING ON SALT SLAB
There are dozens of ways to use Himalayan salt blocks, as plates, platters, skillets, curing bricks, freezing slabs, and more. Cooking, however, is an important one to get under your belt as soon as possible.
Every type of food will react uniquely to your salt block. The effect of the salt on the food will depend on a variety of factors – moister, fat content, thickness, and the temperature of the block. Moister in the food will pick up salt faster, while fat will repel the salt. If your food is too salty, apply a thin layer of oil to the block.
Foods that cook quickly usually work best, so make sure pieces are cut to an appropriate thickness and that the block is hot enough. Cooking on a salt block that hasn’t been heated high enough will not only over-salt your food, but it will also degrade your block much faster.
Salt blocks turn opaque when heated, and may develop fissures or even large cracks. They may also take on color from the proteins cooked on it. Don’t get upset by the behavior of your salt block. Salt is a complicated, wily, unpredictable substance. That is what gives it much of its charm.
Keep the block’s ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ the same each use so that you sear food on the same side for the life of the block. When you flip it, fissures that have formed can become more pronounced.
CARING FOR SALT SLAB
Cleaning: If hot, allow your block to cool completely first. Moisten the salt block with a damp sponge (do not use soap). Scrub with a soft brush or green scouring pad to remove any stuck matter, and wipe clean with the sponge. Try to keep the block as dry as possible – the less water the better. Repeat until the block is free of any cooked on food. Tamp dry with a paper towel or clean cloth, and set on a drying rack. This process removes only a very thin layer of the salt and preserves a relatively smooth surface.
Treated with care, a large salt block can provide dozens of uses. The powerful antimicrobial properties of the salt insure that it is always proper and ready for future use, with no need for detergents.
Storing: Store in any location where humidity is at a minimum. I keep many of mine on the windowsill. If you live in a humid climate, wrap the block in a towel and put in the cupboard.
Warning: Keep out of reach of Children’s