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Cooking on a pink block of Himalayan salt is a relatively new idea.
This interesting way to prepare and serve foods is becoming increasingly popular due to the unexpected texture and flavor it lends to meals.
It’s also touted as protecting against foodborne illnesses and increasing the nutrient content of your meals. However, this practice may also have a few downsides.
This article covers everything you need to know about cooking on a Himalayan salt block.
What is a Himalayan salt block?
Slabs of it are mined and carved into a range of shapes and sizes. As it retains high heat for long periods, the end product can be heated in the oven or on the stovetop and used to cook foods.
Himalayan salt blocks also make visually appealing platters for a variety of hot or cold dishes.
A Himalayan salt block, when heated, can be used to cook food. It also makes for a novel serving platter.
What foods can you cook on a Himalayan salt block?
Himalayan salt blocks can be used to prepare and serve a variety of foods.
As they conduct heat efficiently and at high temperatures, they’re ideal for baking or grilling meats, poultry, eggs, fish, seafood, fresh fruit, and vegetables.
They can even be used to bake cookies, scones, pizzas, and other baked goods.
What’s more, you can chill them to serve cold dishes and desserts — making them incredibly versatile. For instance, chilled salt blocks can be used to serve sushi, cheeses, meat, fruit, custard, ice cream, or sorbet.
Himalayan salt blocks can be used to grill or bake a variety of foods, including meats, seafood, fruit, vegetables, and pizzas. You can also chill your salt block and use it to serve cold foods and desserts.
How to use a Himalayan salt block
A Himalayan salt block is simple to use, but you should keep a few tips in mind.
- Start with a dry salt block. Make sure that your block is completely dry before using it, as any moisture can cause it to expand and crack while heating.
- Heat it slowly. Heating your salt block too quickly can cause it to crack. To prevent this, it’s best to increase the oven temperature by no more than 200℉ (93℃) every 15 minutes.
- Preheat before using it in the oven. Heating your block directly in the oven increases the risk of cracking, so you may want to preheat it on a grill or stovetop before placing it in the oven.
- Changes are normal. Heating can cause your salt block to develop small cracks and naturally change color over time. Try to always cook on the same side to keep cracks from worsening.
- Handle a hot block with care. A salt block can reach very high temperatures and remain hot for several hours. Regular oven mitts won’t offer sufficient protection, so you should consider using high heat-resistant gloves or a carrying rack instead.
- Don’t use fat. Butter and cooking oils aren’t necessary and will diminish the lifespan of your Himalayan salt block.
- Don’t submerge your block in water. Water dissolves salt, so it’s best to clean your block with a damp sponge instead. Stubborn areas can be scrubbed with a scouring pad or soft brush.
Start by placing your dry block on a stovetop or outdoor grill, then slowly raise the temperature until you reach approximately 500℉ (260℃).
You can check your block’s cooking temperature using an infrared thermometer or by sprinkling a few drops of water atop it — if they sizzle or immediately evaporate, your block is likely ready for use.
To cook foods, simply place them directly on your block. If needed, use a pair of silicone tongs or metal cooking utensils for flipping or turning the food.
Make sure to prep your food into appropriately sized pieces. Items that cook quickly tend to work best — since the longer food remains on the block, the saltier it’s likely to get.
To use your Himalayan salt block on an electric stovetop, you’ll need to install a special metal ring over the burner to hold it in place. When using a charcoal grill, prevent your block from heating too quickly by stacking the coals to one side of the grill.
To prevent your Himalayan salt block from cracking in the oven, slowly preheat it on a grill or stovetop.
Add your cookies, pizza, scones, or other baked goods, then place it on a sturdy baking sheet on the middle rack of your oven.
Bake as usual. The block will add a nice hint of saltiness to your food.
Serving cold foods
To use your Himalayan salt block as a cold serving platter, refrigerate it for 2 hours before use.
Then, arrange fruit, sushi, cheeses, veggies, frozen desserts, or any other cold foods immediately before serving.
To avoid over-salting your foods, try limiting the surface area that comes into contact with your salt block by laying food items on their smaller sides.
Cleaning and storing
Allow your salt block to cool completely before cleaning, then use a damp sponge or washcloth to wipe it clean, using only water — not soap.
Tough spots can be scrubbed with a scouring pad or soft brush. Water dissolves salt, so the less water you use, the better.
Once clean, pat your block dry and set it on a drying rack. Allow it to dry completely before storing it in a cool, dry place. If you live in a humid region, try wrapping your block in a towel before putting it away.
Cooking with a Himalayan salt block is fairly simple, but you should use, clean, and store it correctly to prolong its usability.
Benefits of cooking on a Himalayan salt block
Cooking on a Himalayan salt block may offer a few benefits.
May add some nutrients to your meals
These extra minerals give Himalayan salt a slightly different flavor than table salt and impart foods with a few more minerals.
That said, the total amount of added minerals is likely too small to offer significant benefits.
Enhances the flavor of foods
Cooking on a Himalayan salt block may give your meals an unexpected flavor due to its mineral content (1).
What’s more, Himalayan salt blocks have excellent heat distribution, which reduces cooking time and may prevent your dish from becoming overly salty.
Besides, using a salt block may give your dishes a unique texture.
May help combat germs
This may explain why Himalayan salt blocks are marketed as a natural antibacterial or antimicrobial cooking surface that reduces your risk of food poisoning.
Although salt blocks may provide a certain level of protection against harmful bacteria, they are unlikely to offer a replacement for safe food-handling, preparation, and cooking practices.
Himalayan salt blocks impart a unique flavor and are often touted for their nutrient-rich and antibacterial properties, although these benefits are likely insignificant.
Cooking on a Himalayan salt block may also come with a few downsides.
For instance, this cooking method naturally increases your meals’ levels of sodium — a nutrient most people already overeat. While sodium is necessary in small amounts, excessive intake can harm your health (
People with heart, liver, or kidney issues, as well as those on salt-restricted diets, should refrain from cooking on a Himalayan salt block.
Moreover, if you rely on a salt block for your sodium intake, you may not get enough iodine in your diet. This nutrient is especially important for your thyroid gland, which controls your metabolism (
Although Himalayan salt blocks do contain small amounts of iodine, they don’t likely offer as much as table salt — which is usually enriched with this nutrient.
Cooking on a Himalayan salt block may dangerously increase your sodium intake while lowering your iodine consumption. People with kidney, liver, or heart issues, as well as those on salt-restricted diets, should avoid cooking on a Himalayan salt block.
The bottom line
Cooking on a Himalayan salt block is an interesting way to prepare and serve foods.
While some of its touted benefits are exaggerated, it may improve the flavor of meals while adding a hint of saltiness.
Still, it may also encourage excessive salt consumption and indirectly reduce your iodine intake.
As such, it’s likely best to use a Himalayan salt block in moderation.
If you want to give this unique food-prep method a try, you can find them in specialty stores and online.