Salt Block Cooking

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Joined Jan 21, 2016
Hi all.

I was given a salt block as a Christmas gift.  Admittedly, I have never used a salt block to cook before and it has piqued my interest.  I have read some information about it on line.  It seems to me to be more like a culinary novelty than anything else.  But, nonetheless, an interesting novelty.  

What I am looking for is some feedback from cooks and chefs who have had experience with salt block cooking i.e. what are your thoughts about it.  Pros?  Cons? Results? Recipes?  From what I have read, just about anything can be served, cured or cooked on a salt block from fruit to seafood. 

I am already familiar with use and care instructions such as heating, cleaning, cooling etc.  I am really more interested in how the foods everyone has cooked on it have turned out etc. 

Thanks in advance for your input.

-V
 
65
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Joined Jan 21, 2016
Well, I tried it out for the first time tonight.  I have to say, it was not bad at all.

I cooked 3 strip steaks on it and they were delicious.  The salt block salted them perfectly and cooked each one  evenly. 

However, the spot just above the gas burner was just a pinch hotter than the sides.  

Overall, a good first experience.
 

cerise

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I haven't used one personally - yet. However, I read that Mark Bitterman "wrote the book" on salt-block-cooking and salt. I bumped into an ice cream dish using chocolate fleur de sel that led me to themeadow.com.
Great read and ideas. Enjoy.
 
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nicko

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About two years ago someone gave me a salt block and left it in the cabinet for some time. This past year I started to read up on it and learn how to use it. It is unique approach to cooking and it it something that requires a good bit of time. The book I read was ;
[product="27632"]Salt Block Cooking 70 Recipes For Grilling Chilling Searing And Serving On Himalayan Salt Blocks  [/product]
I started out with the salt block on my gas range burner on the lowest setting for 15 minutes. After that I raised the temp a little for another 15 minutes. I did this in 3-4 cycles till the block was fully heated and over a long period of time. If you do this to quickly the block will break. It is also important to note that the salt block become incredibly hot so you cannot walk away from it. 

For our meal I prepared shrimp and scallops with a thai dipping sauce which is from the book. What I found was a single salt block is fine for 2-4 people but for more than that it can be difficult to make enough food for a group on a single salt block. For a larger group I would use a grill and 2-4 blocks would give you enough surface area. The block doesn't over power your food with salt it is very subtle but you do notice it imparts some saltiness especially to delicate items like shrimp or scallops. 

The blocks become quite dirty after cooking and when you clean them it is best to do a dry clean (no water its salt and it will melt). I actually was struggling to get my block cleaned and added too much water and it pitted. Use a plastic scraper and a clean green scrub pad for best results.

Sorry after typing all that I just re-read your post to make sure I was on topic and see that you are already familiar with the care and heating. I do want to say I really do not like this method of cooking because it uses up an incredible amount of resources just to get the blocks heated. It seems more practical to me in a professional setting where your ovens,grills etc are on all the time. Heating up a block for 45 minutes just to cook your dinner is a waste in my opinion.

I think the food results for me was this is a great application for seafood and vegetables. Overall we were very happy with the results. Although the block was very hot it was difficult to get a good sear on the scallops. After the scallops where cooked I let the block heat back up but in the process the remaining food particles browned heavily so before they burned I added the shrimp. The shrimp did not get as nice a sear as the scallops. Most likely what I should of done was scrape off the browned food particles before hand. Like I said the blocks get very hot so it takes time to learn the technique. 

Hope that helps
 

cerise

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There's a restaurant yamashirohollywood.com that has salt block wagu steak seared and served at table for "cooking." As I understand it, the blocks can be frozen/chilled for ice cream, salad, appetizers, etc., as well.

Just wondering, after you chill or heat the block, how do you transport it to the table without getting burned?
 
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155
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Joined Nov 22, 2015
I'm wondering if you can place a heated salt block on a heated cast iron skillet before dropping the food to catch drips and reduce mess.
 
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65
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Joined Jan 21, 2016
Thanks, Nicko, for the great information! 

I have to agree.  It does take a lot of time and resources to prep the block for cooking and with cleaning.  So, unless you have a lot of time, its not very practical.  But, I have to admit, it was a bit fun, which I am sure had something to do with the novelty of the block.  

I also agree that its not very practical to use for more than 2 or 3 adults.  2 adults is ideal.  But, with three or four adults, the size of the block definitely restricts your choice of food. 

The block is heavy so I would not recommend moving it around, especially when it is hot - I think Cerise asked about moving the block around.  I would think the blocks would have to already be in place at the tables or on a portable platform of some sort equipped with a heat source in order to be used as a table side cooking method in a commercial establishment.  I would think the use of salt blocks would add quite a bit to the overall operating costs since it takes a lot of heat to achieve and maintain temperature, not to mention the ridiculous amount of time it take for it to cool down - 3-4 hours to return to room temperature.

Another thing about the block is that the wetter the food, the more salt that is imparted into it.  So, if you are cooking something like a ribeye, that has a high fat content, the block is going to give it more salt than a leaner cut.  I cooked Strip Steaks on it and I think the amount of salt was perfect.  I don't think it would be ideal for people who have a sensitivity to salt or those who like only a very mild salt flavor or no at all.   

My experience with cleanup was identical to yours. In a word, it sucked.  The block came with a scrub brush that has a metal edge for scraping.  I had to wait at least a couple of hours for the block to cool to the point where it could be cleaned without melting the bristles.  Even then, it did not come completely clean and left residue from the meat on its surface.  That can't be good.  I know salt is a natural deterrent to bacteria etc., but, the amount of stuff stuck to the surface that I was not able to remove no matter how hard I scrubbed or scraped makes me not want to use it again.  I would never prepare food in a dirty pan or on a dirty grille, so, why would I do it on a dirty salt block? 

Like I said, I think its a fun novelty, especially if you like to have a few glasses of wine while you're waiting for it to heat up.  Other than that...........
 
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Joined Jan 12, 2016
I used it for small station for Kobe beef sashimi style. I pre-heat the stone in three stages of 15 min. 300F, 400F, then 500F. Once, I get one hour, I removed the stone from the oven. Place it on a small sheet pan. I cut the kobe beef in thin slices. Lay down the pieces of beef on top of the salt of brick. Let it cooked really quick and it comes great flavour . 
 
65
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Joined Jan 21, 2016
 
I used it for small station for Kobe beef sashimi style. I pre-heat the stone in three stages of 15 min. 300F, 400F, then 500F. Once, I get one hour, I removed the stone from the oven. Place it on a small sheet pan. I cut the kobe beef in thin slices. Lay down the pieces of beef on top of the salt of brick. Let it cooked really quick and it comes great flavour . 
That sounds like a really great way of doing it.  Have you done the same with seafood, like tuna or salmon?  If so, what was your experience with it?
 
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Joined Nov 22, 2015
  What about hot salt frying? Apparently you heat rock salt up in a wok and toss the items to be cooked in the rock salt and remove when done. I think this would be a good method for head on, unpeeled shrimp. Has anyone experimented with a technique similar to this?
 
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