Cooking with Himalayan Salt Plates, Blocks & Bricks

Himalayan Salt BlockPakistani Pink Himalayan salt blocks, plates, platters, and bricks can be used for sautéing, grilling, chilling, curing, baking, salting, plating, bathing, and contemplating.

The Fundamentals of Himalayan Salt

A boulder of Himalayan salt emerges from darkness of a 16th century mineshaft in Pakistan and explodes into light, catching and refracting the sun in hues ranging from water-clear crystal to clematis flower pink to deep meaty red. The rough salt rocks are then hand cut by local masons into a variety of shapes, providing the foundation for extraordinary new ways to prepare and serve food.

Indeed, there are as many uses for a heavy slab of Pakistani Pink Himalayan salt as there are foods, cooking styles, whims, acts of folly, and shows of bravado. The salt’s crystal lattice has a fairly high specific energy (energy per unit of mass), so it will tend to hold any temperature you bring it to for a good while. Also, due to its lack of porosity or moisture (.026%), the salt plates can be safely heated or chilled to virtually any extreme. We have tested them from 0°F up to 900°F.

Himalayan Salt CubeTwo other considerations come into play when working with our Himalayan salt plates. Their lack of porosity means that the surface area touches your food is minimal. Compared to, say, ground up salt or naturally evaporated salt crystals, these large blocks of salt will impart only a very moderate saltiness. Second, the high quantity of trace minerals (1.2% sulfur, .4% calcium, .35% potassium, .16% magnesium, and 80 other trace minerals) impart a more mild and full taste to the salt, providing another level of flavor complexity to your food.

Himalayan Salt Block Recipe & Cooking Ideas

Armed with that knowledge, we unleash the hounds and set to. Here are just a few of our favorite uses for our Pakistani Pink Himalayan Salt Plates.

a) Arrange thinly sliced Carpaccio or sashimi on a cool salt platter and serve. Watch as the food literally salt-cures while at the table, gently cooking the edges and bringing on just a smidge of mineral-rich saltiness.

b) Place a large square tile of Pakistani Himalayan salt under the broiler. Wait 30 minutes, then remove the tile with a kitchen glove. Set on trivet at table, and saute fish, meats, and veggies while your guests or family look on with awe, disbelief, and dawning admiration. While cooking, your food will take on a light saltiness. Note that The Meadow’s larger Himalayan salt tiles will often hold heat long enough for repeated grillings before needing to reheat, but that batches will be successively saltier.

c) For an out-doorsy variation on the above, place a large platter of our Himalayan salt on the backyard grill, and plank grill a fennel-and-lemon stuffed monkfish, a lime-and-ginger marinated flank steak, or a balsamic and garlic rubbed Portobello mushroom.

d) For a variation on the wilder side of the out-doorsy, do what our two boys clamor for day in, day out, day in, day out (be forewarned). Heat a large Himalayan salt platter on an outdoor gas grill (best) or an indoor gas stove (use extreme caution). Lightly butter the salt platter, toss on firm bananas, grill 20 seconds on each side. Turn off the grill (important), douse with grappa or bourbon, ignite with a long match, and watch the flambé! Blow out last flames and serve with scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.Barely salted and seductively caramelized, the bananas spring to life against the cool silken contrast of the ice cream.

e) Freeze a Himalayan salt block or plate for two hours. Remove, and plate up scoops of ice cream or sorbet. More fun yet, warm lightly whipped sweet heavy cream, egg, honey, and aged bitters, and refrigerate. Remove the salt slab from freezer, pour mixture on it, slowly lufting with spatula, for a salt-tinged ice custard you will not soon forget.

Salt Brick from Pakistan’s Himalaya mountain range, great for making Gravlax.f) Impress your Jewish grandma with Gravlax. Thaw a filet of commercially frozen (for health reasons) salmon, roll in sugar and minced dill, arrange on a Himalayan salt plate, cover with a heavy brick of Himalayan salt, wrap in paper bag and refrigerate for three days, slice, serve with crème fraîche and melba toast or just eat!

g) Getting back to basics, just use it as a serving platter for butter, cheeses, dried meats, or your daily does of Himalayan Salt Dishpickled ginger and wasabe. When used as a plate for moist food such as apple slices and mozzarella, the food acquires an enhanced salt and mineral flavoring. One of ours serves as our regular butter dish.

h) If panache is what it takes to brighten the musty corners of your soul, try serving up an entire meal using large round or square Himalayan salt plates. Moist foods take on a touch of saltiness, dry foods do not, and everything glows with the otherworldly power of the ancient world (see Ogling below).

i) Place our larger platters of the Himalayan salt on the rack of your oven, preheat, and then bake bread, pizza, and savory pastries.

j) Get existential for a moment, place in window and stare idly at the beauty of salt in its natural, ancient state (see Ogling below).

k) Cut into jewelry, set in the precious metal of your choice, and nibble it as nibble jewelry from the lobes and fingers of your loved-one.

l) Take old (generally after many years of service) or broken salt plates and smash them up with a hammer (this should be fun), then arrange the prettier bits on a dinner plate as a garnish.

m) Take a bath, breaking up an old salt plate and tossing it into the tub to serve as an excellent and therapeutic bath salt, and pumice stone.

Caring for your Pakistani Pink Himalayan Salt Plate

After each use, wash your Himalayan salt plate with warm water and a soft brush or green scrubby, and tamp dry with a paper towel before setting on a drying rack. This will remove a very thin layer of the salt and make it ready for use again. Treated with care, a large salt slab will provide years of service! In addition, the powerful antimicrobial properties of the salt insure that it is always proper and ready for future use, with no need for detergents.

Ogling Your Salt

Ancient quarried salt is a hologram through which the mineral lineage of own bodies can be discerned. In effect, it tastes good to us because it is a reflection of our own primordial physiology.

To gain an appreciation for the beauty of this salt, let your mind drift overland, off the path, and into the wilds of the Hindu Kush, where wildflowers scatter under the tessellated fingerprint of a mild spring breeze. We take up with the torrents of the Amu Darya river, and just keep climbing along the ancient path where recorded history began, back in the 6th century BC, under the Achaemenid Empire.

After several days more of rugged hiking, in the rarified air of northern Pakistan’s Himalaya mountain range, we find a quarry where men pull massive boulders of luminescent pink ore from the earth, glowing like freshly harvested meteorites.

Gaze into the deep ferrite light of a massive block of Himalayan salt, and glimpse the unfathomed history of our planet. Pakistani pink Himalayan salt was formed in the Precambrian era, about 600 million years ago, as a great inland sea evaporated. Volcanic and other geological activity then sealed the salt in a hermetic vault where, over eons, it was subjected to the intense pressure and heat of the deep earth.

Tracing the history of our own biological development, the salt is rich in iron, calcium, and 82 other trace minerals contains all the trace minerals present in your body—and in a remarkably similar balance. Over countless lost ages the land encasing the ancient seabed up rose to become the Himalayas. Meanwhile, the scattering of Eukaryotic cells that comprised all life on earth evolved into shellfish and trilobites. Fish began to swim in the sea, great fern forests emerged, and then came the reptiles. Still the salt glowed darkly in the depths of the earth. Dinosaurs grew to towering heights, mammals peeked from beneath the leaves, and birds took flight. Grazing and carnivorous mammals, and then primates took hold, and still the salt remained in darkness.

Man appeared, gawking at the heavens and whittling spears, then scattering across Asia and beyond. 1.8 million years later, one lovely evening in 326 BC, Alexander the Great gave his troops a rest in the Khewra area of what is now Pakistan. An observant fellow noted in his diary that the horses were taken with licking the rocks—and lo, salt was discovered. Some eighteen centuries later, Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar was born. At the happy age of thirteen, the boy’s father fell to his death from the library stairs, and Akbar ascended to become the greatest Mughal emperor. Akbar’s two lasting contributions were the vast accessioning of art from around the world into the Mughal collections, and the introduction of standardized salt mining at Khewra.

Our Pakistani Pink Himalayan Salt is harvested in the same way it was under Akbar. The choice boulders from the harvest—sometimes weighing in excess of 500 pounds—are sliced into cubes and platters and planks and chunks for use on your table.

You can purchase a host of sizes and shapes of Himalayan salt blocks at The Meadow.

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128 Responses to “Cooking with Himalayan Salt Plates, Blocks & Bricks”

  1. on 24 Feb 2013 at 8:49 amtami

    I would love to take one to my cousin. Has anyone tried to take one on board an airplane? Just wondering if TSA would take it away.

  2. on 25 Feb 2013 at 8:31 amkym

    Mark,
    This a very informative site. Thanks for all you put into it. I purchased my salt block over three years ago and have never used it. I was too afraid. But after reading all of these blogs. I think I’m ready.

  3. on 05 Mar 2013 at 10:38 amMark Bitterman

    @tami – We’ve had numerous customers take them on airplanes. They’re perfectly legal and not banned, so the TSA should have no reason to confiscate them. I’ve talked to customers who have been pulled for a bag check because they had a salt block or bag of salt in their carry-on, but as soon as they explained what it was, everything was OK.

  4. on 05 Mar 2013 at 10:59 amMark Bitterman

    @Jenn – It sounds like you’ve done the right things. If you haven’t already tried a steel scouring pad I’d try it. Moisten it with a wet sponge, then scrub away. Sometimes, however, there will be protein stains that won’t come off. Over-cleaning can shorten the lifetime of your block. The good news is that they shouldn’t effect the flavor of your next meal.

  5. on 14 Mar 2013 at 9:27 amfred rinaldi

    Just received 2 blocks 8×8 each, and like many others here was going to pre heat the block in the oven, thank god I found your blog (thank you google) can’t wait to cook on them, just remodled my kitchen and put in a beast Thermadore grill top with 6 burners, Shrimp & ribey will be on 1 block and veggies the other, can’t wait.

  6. on 20 Mar 2013 at 9:53 amMark Bitterman

    @Fred – I’m glad we could be of help! I also wanted to let you know that I have a new book coming out this May dedicated to cooking on Himalayan Salt blocks called Salt Block Cooking. Take a look if you’d like more information or recipes.

  7. on 02 Apr 2013 at 12:41 pmDave

    I am curious has anybody tried freezing the salt block and making the custard listed above or some other custard? seems odd to include Bitters in it, not sure how that would taste.

  8. on 16 Apr 2013 at 7:18 amGlad

    Hi Mark, I received a Himalayan salt block bowl with salt blocks in the bowl, it is a lamp. The bowl has broken ‘n I’m asking, how can I fix the broken bowl? Thanks

  9. on 18 Apr 2013 at 7:10 amGlad

    Hi Marc, If you know of any website that can help me, I really would appreciate it. You do have an awesome site here. This is the new age cooking with Him-alayan rock salt. Just received some crushed salt, am excited to try it. This is great. And your blog is totally awesome. 🙂 Keep up the super great job!

  10. on 18 Apr 2013 at 3:06 pmMark Bitterman

    @Glad – The best way to fix a broken Himalayan salt bowl is with food-safe grade epoxy glue. If you’re just using it as a lamp, just regular epoxy glue will work.

  11. on 19 Apr 2013 at 7:32 amGlad

    Hi Mark, Thank you for the great help with fixing my salt bowl lamp. I am going to order your books. Thanks again. What a healthy way to cook and live healthy.

  12. on 01 Sep 2013 at 8:02 amDaryl

    Hi I was given a salt egg as a gift. I am looking for cooking instructions and recipe ideas?

  13. […] such as apple slices or mozzarella cheese, the food acquires an improved taste and mineral salt. http://www.saltnews.com/cooking-with-himalayan-salt-plates-blocks-bricks-platters/ “You can cook it, freeze it and eat ice cream out of it or serve sushi in it, “says […]

  14. on 08 Jan 2014 at 11:18 pmSandra

    we have an induction cooktop, which I love! However, we can’t heat the salt block on the cooktop – so, here’s hoping it doesn’t explode in the oven….

  15. on 14 Jan 2014 at 5:40 pmMark Bitterman

    Put it in the cold oven, and then turn on the heat! Hopefully you have an electric oven and not one of the way more humid gas ones like mine!

  16. on 14 Jan 2014 at 5:43 pmMark Bitterman

    Yes, grab yourself a copy of Salt Block Cooking, written by Mark Bitterman, owner and selmelier at The Meadow! The first two printings have run out but the third printing is due in any day now so you can pre-order it now and expect it to arrive before the end of the month. http://www.atthemeadow.com/shop/saltblockcooking

  17. on 30 Jan 2014 at 2:20 pmMark Bitterman

    Hi Sandra! How did it go?

  18. on 23 Mar 2014 at 10:57 amRana Javed

    Hi,

    I am rock salt items exporter in Pakistan i have huge quantity in rock items.I have my own factory and am selling in UK, USA
    we making everything in rock salt items
    Road salt , salt cooking block , Horse salt
    with very lowest rates, that you will like guaranteed.

    Let me know please at 0092-315-5897226.

    Thanks & Regards:
    Rana Javed..
    http://www.hamzasalt.com

  19. on 23 Mar 2014 at 11:00 amRana Javed

    Hi,

    I am rock salt items exporter in Pakistan i have huge quantity in rock items.I have my own

    factory and am selling in UK, USA
    we making everything in rock salt items
    Road salt , salt cooking block , Horse salt
    with very lowest rates, that you will like guaranteed.

    Let me know please at 0092-315-5897226.

    Thanks & Regards:
    Rana Javed..
    http://www.hamzasalt.com

  20. on 23 Mar 2014 at 11:21 pmNar

    I am the one who was born in this country where we can get lot of Himalayan Salt Block anywhere easily ……. for further comment please post your opinion.

  21. on 06 Apr 2014 at 12:26 pmgoogle adwords coupon

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but
    I find this matter to be actually something that I think I would
    never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me.
    I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  22. on 09 Apr 2014 at 3:22 pmBecki

    I LOVE your website! SO much wonderful information, I’ve been searching for all I can learn about, recipes, ideas, care of salt blocks, etc. I found another informative site at http://www.himalayansaltblock.org that has some great pictures and videos (I hope you don’t mind me adding the site info, just letting readers know…I was just excited to find more sites) I’m glad you are posting again!!! We’ve been waiting 🙂 …so excited to see more products and ideas here 🙂 thank you!

  23. on 02 May 2014 at 4:16 amDeirdre

    Hi, I am a sculptor interested in using a large clear block of salt for a plinth , any ideas where I might source this, I am based in dublin, Ireland, thanks.

  24. […] Pakistani Pink Himalayan salt blocks, plates, platters, and bricks can be used for sautéing, grilling, chilling, curing, baking, salting, plating, bathing, and contemplating. Their lack of porosity means that the surface area touches your food is minimal. Compared to, say, ground up salt or naturally evaporated salt crystals, these large blocks of salt will impart only a very moderate saltiness. Second, the high quantity of trace minerals (1.2% sulfur, .4% calcium, .35% potassium, .16% magnesium, and 80 other trace minerals) impart a more mild and full taste to the salt, providing another level of flavor complexity to your food. http://www.saltnews.com/cooking-with-him… […]

  25. on 03 Jun 2014 at 12:24 amMimi

    So what is the point in using these blocks? I am not sure why I should spend 45 mins using up gas to heat a slab to cook a fish that I could have cooked in a pan in 5 mins !! Am I missing something here ? Why cant I just save money and sprinkle salt on it afterwards ? ….

  26. on 05 Jun 2014 at 10:43 amMark Bitterman

    Hi Bliss, Good question. I’ve gone into that in detail elsewhere in this blog and in Salt Block Cooking, but that info may be spread around. To summarize: Salt blocks dehydrate the surface of the food (and only the surface!) to create far more browning of the protein–giving you more of the crispy, chewy stuff that has all the flavor. While this is largely achieved through something called the Maillard reaction, the salt itself in the salt blocks also seems to react differently, lending more of that chewy-crunchy browning than can be achieved with a pan alone. Scallops (a moist, relatively low fat food) are an example at one end of the spectrum (and bacon, a dry, high fat food) is an example at the other. Both foods are range from somewhat better to incomparably better on a salt block, depending on the quality of the ingredient and the properness of the technique. Give it a whirl and tell me what you think!

  27. on 29 Aug 2014 at 11:22 amMike Deskins

    I’m wanting to do an appetizer of english cucumber slices with a dollop of creme fraiche topped with caviar and serve on a salt plate, will it get too salty if they are setting on the plate during the party or should I coat the plate with some oil?

  28. on 05 Sep 2014 at 6:23 pmMark Bitterman

    @Mike Deskins – Cucumber slices quickly absorb salt from a salt block (general rule of thumb – the higher the water content of the vegetable/fruit/protein, the faster it will absorb the salt). You could apply a thin coat of oil to the block itself, but if too much is applied the cucumber slices won’t absorb any salt at all.

    You could consider first quick-curing the cucumber slices on a salt block (you could follow the technique outlined in this video for Salt Block Cucumber Salad), and then serve them on a block that has had a coat of oil applied to it (to make sure they don’t get any saltier).

    Either way, let us know how the cucumber slices with creme fraiche turn out!

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