About a year and a half ago, I was looking for a cool, unique host gift for some friends of mine. I came across Himalyan salt blocks by accident, I don’t even remember how, but I thought it would make a neat gift for my friends, who are adventurous people who love trying new things. Then for my birthday that year, someone gave me my very own salt block! I promptly put it in a cabinet and forgot about it. Until last week when I needed a new thing to try. So I dug it out of storage, did a little googling and cooked dinner on a salt block.
Like the crock pot pizza experiment, there is no real time saving here and it doesn’t make cooking easier. But on the plus side, it’s not really any harder than cooking on a grill and it is cool. The biggest downside to using the salt block is that it’s very time consuming. You have to heat the block up very gradually, 15-20 minutes on low heat, 15-20 on medium, 15-20 on high. Salt blocks heated up too quickly are prone to cracking and breaking, so I didn’t take any risks and spent a sold hour heating it up. I don’t own a grill (the joys of apartment living) but I’m pretty sure they don’t take an hour to heat up. (Grill masters, feel free to correct me in the comments. The only grill I am master of is my little Foreman Grill.)
While the salt block was heating, I was prepping some kabobs and asparagus. I went back and forth about using a marinade on the meat. I worried it would stop me from tasting whatever flavor the salt block gives. But then I worried the salt block wouldn’t actually do anything and I’d have tasteless kabobs. I did google around and other people had salt block recipes that called for marinades, so in the end, I went with one. I think it was the right decision, though I do think you should keep the marinade light if your goal is to get the salt block flavor.
Cooking on the block is probably very similar to cooking on a grill. The biggest issue I had was the kabobs sticking to the block. Because oil creates a barrier between the food and salt block, all the advice I read said not to use a non-stick spray or anything like that. So I didn’t. The result was I had to pry up the kabobs when turning them and a lot stuck to the block and then charred, which made cooking the asparagus more difficult and resulted in a challenging clean up. I’m not sure what the solution to this issue is, but if I were to do this again, I might try a non-stick spray and just see what happens. The only other thing I can think of is to have multiple salt blocks to cook on so you can do meat on one, veggies on another, etc. I don’t foresee this becoming a regular mode of cooking for me, so I’ll just live with the one.
(I honestly can’t believe I’ve written 500 words about a salt block.)
But what you really want to know is: How did they taste? Salty? Normal? First, you should know that after I originally unwrapped the block, I did lick it, just a little, to see what it would taste like. I was prepared for overwhelming saltiness, but it wasn’t like that! The saltiness is actually very mild and not at all like regular table salt. So I was very curious to see what cooked food would taste like on it. The onions and asparagus did not really seem to absorb a lot of the salt block flavor, but the meat definitely did! It had a strange, but pleasant mineral-y flavor. A little bit earthy and…almost metallic, but in a good way? It was subtle, but it was definitely there. And it enhanced the overall meatiness, which, obviously, is what salt does, but it didn’t taste salty, just more flavorful.
And that was my salt block adventure! I’m not in a rush to do it again, but it was a cool way to spend an evening. Salt blocks are also pretty versatile, so you can also put them in the freezer and use them as serving trays, if you want. If you want your own salt block, they are pretty inexpensive and easily available on Amazon.com. Go forth and experiment!