Salt Block Cooking: 70 Recipes for Grilling, Chilling, Searing, and Serving on Himalayan Salt Blocks
My second book, Salt Block Cooking: 70 Recipes for Grilling, Chilling, Searing, and Serving on Himalayan Salt Blocks, will be released on May 28th everywhere books are sold! (if you want a signed copy, please buy from The Meadow’s online store here>>) I want to take a moment to introduce the book to you, and share a few of the recipes it includes. My publisher Andrews McMeel did an incredible job crafting the book itself. It’s a gorgeous hardback, 224 pages long and has over 100 full color photographs.
Salt Block Cooking is a comprehensive guide to the craft of cooking with Himalayan salt in its rough, primordial state–which is to say, as a rock. Salt blocks are boulders of 600 million year old rock salt that are cut into slabs or lathed into cups and bowls for use in the kitchen and at the table.
Cooking with salt blocks is emerging as a powerful but accessible technique, appearing everywhere from Iron Chef America competitions to ritzy Las Vegas steak houses to backyard family barbecues. Everyone who sees it or tastes food made with it recognized the flavorful, flashy fun that salt blocks have to offer. But until now, the enormous potential has not been explored. Cooking on salt blocks is indeed fun, but it is also a revolutionary cooking technique that promises serious benefits for cooks and eaters of every stripe.
‘Salt Block Cooking’ provides simple, modern recipes that illustrate the principles of preparing and serving food on Himalayan salt. Beginners will benefit from helpful information on shopping for a block, maintenance, heating, cooling, handling, serving, and cooking with their blocks. More adventurous salt block cooks will find an array of new tips, techniques and recipes (salt block curing a slice of watermelon into a savory prosciutto-like “ham”, anyone?).
My book is divided into seven sections, an introduction serving as an Owner’s Manual, and six cooking chapters, each providing information and recipes for mastering a core technique:
Introduction to Salt Blocks: Where are Himalayan salt blocks, where do they come from, and how are they used? The introduction will answer all your questions about how to select and use your Himalayan salt block. Think of this as the user guide or owner’s manual. It includes detailed instructions for warming, chilling, and cooking with your block, and how to clean up afterwards, with pictures to guide you every step of the way.
Serving on Salt Blocks: Learn how serving food on salt is the simplest and one of the best ways to bring a stunning visual display meal, not to mention a new dimension of flavor. These recipes reveal how food and salt interact when they meld at room temperature. Try watermelon and feta (see recipe below), salt block ceviche, or salt bowl mayonnaise.
Curing on (and Between) Salt Blocks: In this chapter, we delve into the craft of transforming the very nature of food, with recipes for curing with salt blocks to preserve food while enhancing its flavor and texture. Unlike the crystals of granular salt, salt blocks cure in just two dimensions, drawing moisture out subtly for a dazzling effect. Recipes include quick salt cod, preserved savage mushrooms, and candied strawberries.
Warming on Salt Blocks and in Salt Bowls: Take advantage of salt’s capacity for emitting warmth by creating dishes that luxuriate in the heightened flavor and succulence that comes when fats begin to melt and aromas amplify. Try molten brie with pistachio crumbs and warm salted dates, or salt-melted chocolate fondue with bacon.
Cooking on (and under) Salt Blocks: Heat cooks and so does salt. What makes cooking on salt so cool is that heat and salt each get a turn to cook in their own way. Heated salt cooks like nothing else, from caramelizing sugars, melting fats, browning proteins and evaporating moisture. Grill up salt block cheeseburger sliders, salt crust cardamom Naan, or salt roasted poultry gizzards seasoned with pastrami pepper.
Chilling on Salt Blocks: Dense salt, plunged into sub-zero temperatures, freezes food to deliciousness. Whether its dipped in liquid nitrogen or cooled in a fridge, salt blocks interact with food differently at all temperatures. Freeze yourself some mocha-panna cotta gelato or salted bitters ice cream, or make salt-candied cherries with just-cooled blocks.
Drinking from Salt Cups: This chapter shows you how to craft that beverage to be consumed from a glass made out of salt. Recipes include the Islay Scotch and Chocolate, Salacious Mint Julep, or a warm sake shot with Daikon.
I think of this book as analogous to Thomas Keller’s book ‘Under Pressure’, which demystified and popularized the techniques of sous-vide cooking. Like sous-vide, cooking with salt blocks may seem inaccessible to home cooks, or even to some professional chefs. However, once you understand the basics, they are anything but. ’Salt Block Cooking’ opens the door for everyone to enjoy the fun and flavor of cooking with Himalayan salt block, bricks, platters, bowls, dishes, and cups. Personalized and autographed copies are available here>>
Recipes from ‘Salt Block Cooking’
Salt Brick Grilled Chicken
Makes 4 Servings
- 2 (4 by 8 by 2-inch) salt blocks
- 1 (4-pound) chicken, preferably free-range
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
- ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- Juice of ½ lemon
1) Place the salt blocks on a grill grate of a gas grill over low heat, close the lid, and warm for 10 minutes while you prepare the chicken. Turn the heat to medium and heat the block for 10 more minutes. Its surface should be about 375°F. If you are using a charcoal fire, set up a bilevel fire with half the grill set up for low heat (one layer of coals) and the other half set up for medium heat (two layers of coals).
2) Remove and discard the neck and package of innards from the cavity of the chicken. Place the chicken, breast side down, on a cutting board. With a large knife or poultry shears, cut down the length of the spine on both sides. Remove the spine. Cut the breast side of the chicken in half lengthwise. You will now have two chicken halves.
3) Wash the halves in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Coat with the olive oil and rub all over with the cut sides of the garlic cloves; afterward tuck the pieces of garlic under the edges of the skin. Season all over with the pepper.
4) Clean the area of the grill grate not occupied by the salt block with a wire brush. Put the chicken halves, skin side down, on the grill grate and, using grill gloves or thick oven mitts, put a hot salt block on top of each half. Close the lid and cook until the chicken skin is crisp and deeply grillmarked, about 15 minutes.
Remove the blocks using the grill gloves, flip the chicken halves with tongs, put the blocks back on top of the chicken, close the lid, and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the inside of the thicker thigh registers 170°F, 10 to 15 minutes.
5) Remove the salt blocks, transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board, and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting into parts. Drizzle with the lemon juice and serve.
Watermelon and Feta on a Salt Block
Makes 2 Servings
- 1 (8 by 12 by 2-inch) salt block platter, or 2 smaller blocks
- 4 (½-inch-thick) quarter slices large watermelon, rinds removed, or 8 (½-inch-thick) quarter slices small watermelon
- 3 ounces feta, crumbled
- 6 fresh mint leaves, slivered
1) Chill the salt block platter in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
2) Arrange the melon slices on the block, slightly overlapping—the more the overlap, the less salt imparted to the melon. Scatter the feta and mint leaves over the top. Serve immediately. For added pop, allow the dish to stand 20 minutes before serving.