While shopping for grilling accessories,I came across a natural cooking tool I had heard about, but never considered using, a Himalayan Salt Block. I’ve grilled salmon on a wood soaked cedar plank, but wasn’t familiar with cooking on what looks like a piece of marble for presenting an assortments of cheeses. After looking into this a little further, I discovered that many chefs and foodies swear by the subtle enhancement a Himalayan salt block provides to various foods when presented, baked or grilled upon it.
What is Himalayan Salt?
When was the last time you were able to use a cooking tool that is basically half a billion years old? I’m going to assume the answer is never! Real Himalayan salt blocks come from a salt mine in Pakistan from a region called the Great Salt Range.
The Great Salt Range was formed millions of years ago when tectonic plates collided, trapping an inland sea and also creating the Himalayan mountains. The salt is said to have remained untouched by contaminants because of the way it was created. It’s interesting to point out that this pink salt really isn’t from the Himalayas which are 300 miles west of the mountain range!
Here are some other interesting facts:
- The famous pink hue comes from iron oxide
- 96% sodium chloride (same as table salt)
- 4% potassium, calcium, magnesium and other trace minerals
There are many reports touting the many health benefits from cooking with and ingesting Himalayan salt. However, there is no definitive proof that Himalayan salt is healthier than regular table salt. Salt, as most people know, should be used in moderation to keep sodium levels at a healthy level. However, there are overwhelming reports on the benefits a Himalayan salt block has a cooking tool, and taste enhancer!
Grilling on a Salt Block
Himalayan salt blocks are said to subtly infuse food with salt flavor. When used to sear or grill food over a wood fire, food does not need to be heavily seasoned. The salt permeates the food during the cooking process, gradually, but evenly distributing salt flavor throughout.
A Himalayan salt block is an excellent searing tool for meats and seafood since the block distributes the heat evenly. However, don’t be tricked into thinking it’s a brainless way to cook perfectly seasoned food. There are tips to follow to maximize the use of this natural cooking tool and ensure the subtle salt is distributed to the grilled food correctly.
This natural cooking tool is really a stone that absorbs water and other liquids, so it’s important to take care. Below is a list of proper ways to use and care for a Himalayan salt block:
- Don’t crack the stone; when first using the salt block it must be heated up gradually (5 minutes low, 5 medium and then 5 at high temp)
- Do not oil the the stone; if the recipe calls for oil or butter, brush it on the food, not the stone
- Before cleaning, let the stone cool to room temperature; this may take a couple of hours if cooking at the stone’s maximum heat of 900 degrees Fahrenheit
- Scap to clean, never use soap or submerge in water; the stone will absorb the water, wearing it out and it will have to completely dry out for a minimum of 24 hours before it can be used again
Follow these tips and a Himalayan salt block will last for many a season of wood fired grilling deliciousness!
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