Archive for the 'Recipes' Category

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.

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How to Cook Steak on a Himalayan Salt Block

Heating a Himalayan salt block

Cooking steak on a slab of pink Himalayan salt isn’t like cooking on steel. When you cook on a Himalayan salt block, the heat of the block sears and browns proteins of the steak and melts fat, while the salt subtly dehydrates the surface and seasons to perfection. Together the heat and salt work in harmony to produce a tremendously tender and salted steak slices.

Cooking on Himalayan salt is unlike anything else, so here’s a step-by-step guide for how to do it: How to Cook Steak on a Himalayan Salt Block. Every step is explained in detail, with pictures to show you how to do it:

  1. Select the right block
  2. Heat it slowly
  3. Cut, apply, and cook the steak
  4. Clean your salt block
  5. Store for later use

We use steak as an example because its one of our favorite things to cook on Himalayan salt. But these principles can be applied to cooking on salt in general – from scallops to eggs, bell peppers to fiddleheads and duck breast.

Go read: How to Cook Steak on a Himalayan Salt Block

For more information, see: Our Guide to Pink Himalayan Salt Blocks and Meadow fan Deanna Dawson’s How to Cook a Hanger Steak on a Himalayan Salt Block guide.

Gravlax on Pink Himalayan Salt Blocks

 This recipe is adapted from the “Salt Block Gravlax” recipe in Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes.

Serves 6

2 large Himalayan Salt Blocks (6x9x2) or The Meadow’s Gravlax Starter Set (two 4x8x2)
Bunch of fresh dill sprigs
2 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon dry yellow mustard
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 pound salmon fillet, skin on, pin bones removed
Melba toast or crackers for serving

Cover one block with half of the dill sprigs. Mix the dry ingredients. Place the salmon on the dill-covered salt block, skin down. Coat the fleshy parts of the salmon, and cover with the remainder of the dill sprigs. Place the second salt block on top, wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap, and place in a fridge.

Leave in the fridge until the fish becomes resilient but not firm to the touch. The top surface should be dry, the sides moist, and the flesh will be slightly opaque. Allow one to three days. Thinner and wild salmon cure faster, while thicker and farm-raised salmon take longer.

When it is ready, unwrap the gravlax, rinse off the spices, and pat dry. Serve skin side down on melba toast or crackers.

 

 

Vegetable Sandwich with Amabito no Moshio (藻塩)

Mark Bitterman's picture of the best, if nostalgic veggetable sandwich

The vegetables of summer are steadily dropping off their vines and sliding back into the sun-soaked recesses of memory. Much as I look forward to fall–rain, endive, leaves, rain, a hiatus from mowing the lawn, endive, rain–I still crave the crisp, succulent, almost arrogant freshness of a veggie sandwich: all that is vegetal between the savory bookends of bread and cheese. And nothing loves a great salt like a veggie sandwich. My favorite: Amabito no Moshio (藻塩) is an ancient type of Japanese salt, called shio.

Shios are identifiable by their fine, snow-like texture.  Their firm, intensely mineral backbone lends a delicacy and brightness to food, much as acidity supports definition and complexity in wine.  Amabito no Moshio is the granddaddy of shios, created some 2,500 years ago in what was then more or less a neolithic Japan.  Seaweed was hauled out of the water by fishermen and dried on the rocks, then sprayed with water, then dried some more, then sprayed some more, etc. etc. until a now salt-encrusted seaweed could be rinsed to make a saturated brine.  The brine, along with bits of the kelp, would then be boiled off over a wood fire, resulting in a delicately seaweed-infused salt.  Today, The Meadow’s Amabito no Moshio, made with the hondawara variety of seaweed (Sargassum fulvellum) is inspired by that tradition.  If today is your day to celebrate the veggie sandwich–perhaps your last true fresh veggie sandwich of the year–do it with the proper reverence, and with a last backwards glimpse of summer’s sunny sanctity.

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Pan-Fried Sesame Salmon with Iburi-Jio Cherry Smoked Salt

Sesame Salmon with Iburi-Jio Cherry smoked sea salt

A salmon caught high in the freshwater streams of the mountains bears within its pink flesh the flavors of faraway places in the Pacific Ocean, a rosy imprint of the long voyage back to its birthplace. These fish see a lot of things below the ocean depths. And then they eat them. Salmon deserve a suitably thoughtful and voracious treatment in the kitchen.

Iburi-Jio Cherry, a smoked sea salt from Japan, has endured a journey comparable to that of the salmon. Artisan salt makers plumb seawater off the coast of the Oga Peninsula, drawing a pristine brine up from the pure, deepwater currents. After concentrating the brine, they heat it over a wood fire over three days, stirring constantly to produce a salt that is the texture of powder snow. This salt is then gently cold smoked over cherry wood for a sweet, smoky, bacony aroma that is unrivaled in the culinary world.

The combination of deep sea minerals, cherry wood smoke, and buttery salmon takes your taste buds on peregrinations through flavor’s most unfathomed depths.

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White Balsamic Melon Sorbet with Haleakala Ruby Sea Salt

Cantaloupe Sorbet with Haleakala Ruby Sea Salt

Once in a while salting is not about harmony.  Instead it’s about a gentle but jangling discord.  Haleakala Ruby is a luscious, warm Hawaiian sea salt that takes its color from the Haleakala volcano’s sacred alaea clay.  This is a salt that excels on fish and pork, where it seeks out and then embellishes the opulent undercurrents of flavors lurking in these subtler foods.  But it’s also good on fruit.  The salt shifts unexpectedly from meadows of sunny butter to coral reefs of revitalizing brine.  The less acidic the fruit, the more pronounced the oceanic freshness, as if the salt knows precisely how to respond to the needs of the food.  Start with a cantaloupe sweet as honeysuckle, trickle a little balsamic acidity for added complexity, stir in a pinch of fleur de sel to bring the flavors into crystal clarity, then serve with a sprinkle of Haleakala Ruby…  This is what it tastes like to have your heart skip a beat.

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