Salt Block Scallops with Szechuan Peppercorns and Citrus

Sautéeing on Himalayan salt blocks creates exponentially more flavor than sautéeing in a conventional skillet.  This is because a salt block cooks your food in two ways. At a blazing 500 degrees or higher, the heavy block of salt has enormous thermal mass, sizzling away moisture to produce a thick crust of rich, concentrated flavor.  At the same time, the Himalayan pink salt itself sets to work, bursting cell membranes, intermingling juices, and breaking loose new flavors that in turn sizzle away to make for even more concentrated flavors.  Want to make the most of this miracle of cooking chemistry?  Balance out the scallop’s rich buttery flavors with a spritz of citrus and reinforce everything with the lip-tingling spice of Szechuan peppercorns. You’ll not have another scallop that’s this fun to cook, impressive to serve, or tasty to eat.

FYI We’re holding a Himalayan Salt Block Class Wednesday July 14 at The Meadow!  Info here>>

Makes 4 servings

2 4x8x2 inch Himalayan salt bricks (or one 8x8x2 inch salt plate) cooking grade Himalayan salt blocks
1 1/4 pounds large wild-caught sea scallops (about 16)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cracked red Szechuan peppercorns
Finely shredded zest and juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 lime

Place the salt block(s) over a low gas flame and heat for 15 minutes. Raise the flame to medium and heat another 10 minutes. Raise the flame to high and heat another 15 minutes, until it is uncomfortable to hold your hand about 2 inches from the surface of the block for longer than 3 seconds (approximately 500°F).

While the salt block is heating pat the scallops dry and pull off their white gristly tendons (located on the side of the scallop) if not already removed. Coat the scallops with the olive oil and Szechuan pepper and let stand at room temperature until the salt block is hot.

Place the scallops on the hot block.  The scallops should almost skitter across the top.  If they just plop there and sizzle modestly, the salt is  and sear until browned and springy to the touch but still a little soft in the center, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Work in batches if your salt block cannot comfortably fit all the scallops at once.

Remove to a platter or plates, or move the entire salt block to the table and set on an oven mitt or trivet to serve still sizzling to your guests. Scatter the citrus zest over top and drizzle with the juice.  Eat immediately.

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7 Responses to “Salt Block Scallops with Szechuan Peppercorns and Citrus”

  1. on 11 Jul 2010 at 8:27 amTinky

    Holy cow! You are indeed the king of salt. This is beautiful and ingenious and sounds delicious.

  2. on 12 Jul 2010 at 9:51 amlulu

    OMG!! this looks delicious!!

  3. on 14 Jul 2010 at 8:19 ammsj

    Can’t wait to try this one!

  4. […] for the class got us hungry, so we’ve posted a new recipe, Salt Block Scallops with Szechuan Peppercorns and Citrus, on Recipe […]

  5. on 30 Jan 2012 at 11:43 amPeter

    Hi Mark,
    Just tried the salt block for the first time – a gift – love the idea and look forward to the scallop dish. Question: I just cooked eggs on it and they were waaay too salty for my taste. Did I not let the block get hot enough so they absorbed too much salt? I followed the directions for heating and I used butter as suggested to limit salt absorption.
    Thanks, Peter

  6. on 30 Jan 2012 at 2:44 pmMark Bitterman

    Peter – It sounds to me like the culprit is not enough heat. We always demonstrate eggs during our Himalayan salt block classes in the shop and most people find that they aren’t salty enough – which is why we usually end up doctoring it with a little Black Truffle salt! Try letting your block heat up a little longer (and crank it up to high heat) and if you find that it’s still too salty, really slather the butter on there. Best of luck!

  7. on 02 Sep 2012 at 12:50 pmMichele

    I just used my new salt block (bought at The Meadow in NYC) for the first time last night. Freshly cracked some pepper over some shrimp and did one batch plain on the block and one batch with some scattered rosemary leaves on the block. It was just amazing. The shrimp was just so moist with an incredible flavor. Used some of your lemon flake finishing salt and we were all raving. Can’t wait to try these scallops. Thanks so much!

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