Basics of Himalayan Salt

Himalayan Salt Blocks


A boulder of Himalayan rock salt emerges from darkness of a 16th centurymineshaft in Pakistan and explodes into light, catching and refracting the sunin hues ranging spring water clear to hibiscus pink to venison red. Stonemasonsin a neighbouring town then hand cut the great rock into a variety of shapes,providing the foundation for extraordinary advance ways to prepare and servefood.

There are as many culinary uses for these heavy slabs of Himalayanpink salt as there are foods, cooking styles, whims, acts of folly, and showsof bravado. They can be heated, chilled, or left at room temperature — and withcare, they can used over and over again.

Serve moist food on it, such as mozzarella and sliced apples, and thefood will pick up a delicate saltiness that sets it off perfectly. Heat a saltplate on the stove, then set the hot block on a trivet at the table to searscallops or thinly sliced hanger steak while seated with your guests.

Quick Start Guide: Cooking on Salt Blocks

Himalayan Pink Salt Blocks can be heated, cooled, or left at roomtemperature. Cold room and temperature uses require no special instruction;simply place food on the salt block and serve.

Himalayan salt blocks take on a life of their own once you startusing them (and sometimes even before then). While it might be nice forsalt to offer all the stability of stainless steel, this is simply not thecase. When heated, it will change color dramatically, and may develop fissuresor even large cracks. It may also patina with use, taking on color from theproteins cooked on it. Don’t get upset by the behavior of your salt block. Saltis a complicated, wiley, unpredictable substance. That is what gives it much ofits charm.

Heating Himalayan Salt Blocks requires following some basic steps. Allowbetween 30 to 45 minutes to achieve the desired cooking temperature. Also, notethat heating will change the appearance of your Himalayan Salt Block. Your saltplate will crackle slightly on heating as micro-fissures appear, clouding theclear finish of the salt block. This is normal, but you may wish to keep onepiece for heating and reserve another for room temperature uses.

·        Be sure the salt block is completelydry. If wet, allow to dry at least 24 hours in a warm, dry place beforeheating.

·        For gas ranges, place your HimalayanSalt Block on the burner over low flame. After 15 minutes (allow more time forplates larger than 8″ x 8″ x 2″), increase heat to low-medium. After another 15minutes, your salt plate will be hot enough to cook on. If extremely hottemperatures are desired, as for searing duck foie gras, or scallops increaseflame to medium for another 15 minutes.

·        For electric ranges, place a metalspacer — such as wok ring or pas- try tin with a removable bottom — on thestove so that the Himalayan Salt Block is at least 1/2 inch above the heatingelement. It is important that the salt not touch the heating element, as directcontact could damage your range or your salt, or both. With the salt block inplace, follow instructions 3a above, allowing as much a 5 minutes more for eachstep.

·        Do not heat your saltblock in the oven. This can damage your salt block and/or your oven.

 

Caring for your Pink Himalayan Salt Plate

After each use, rinse your salt plate with warm water, scrub with a softbrush or green scouring pad to remove any stuck matter, and rinse again. Tampdry with a paper towel or clean cloth. Set on a drying rack. This processremoves a very thin layer of the salt. Treated with care, a large salt blockcan provide dozens of uses. The potent antimicrobial proper- ties of the saltinsure that it is always proper and ready for future use, with no need fordetergents.

The crystal lattice of Himalayan pink salt blocks hold any temperatureyou bring it to for a good while. This also makes for excellent heatdistribution, making grandma’s heavy old cast iron skillet seem like tinfoil bycomparison.

Himalayan Salt Blocks have very little porosity, and virtually noresidual moisture (.026%), the salt plates can be safely heated or chilled togreat extremes. We have tested them from 0°F up to 700°F (-18°C to 370°C). Saltmelts at 1473.4°F (800.8°C). (If you want to boil yourself some salt, you willneed to bring it to 2669°F (1465°C)).

Two other considerations come into play when working with our Himalayansalt plates. Their lack of porosity means that the surface area touching yourfood is minimal, so these large blocks of salt will impart only a very moderatesaltiness. Second, the high quantity of trace miner- als (1.2% sulfur, .4%calcium, .35% potassium, .16% magnesium, and 80 other trace minerals) impart amore mild and full taste to the salt, and by extension, more flavor complexityto your food.

 

Ogling Your Himalayan Pink Salt Plate

Let your mind drift overland, off the path, and into the wilds of theHindu Kush, where wildflowers scatter under the tessellated fingerprint of amild spring breeze. We take up with the torrents of the Amu Darya river, andjust keep climbing, along the ancient path where recorded history began, backin the 6th century BC, under the Achaemenid Empire. Weeks later, in therarified air of northern Punjab’s Himalaya mountain range, we find a quarrywhere men pull massive boulders of luminescent pink ore from the earth, glowinglike freshly harvested meteorites. Gaze into the deep ferrite light of amassive block of Himalayan salt, and glimpse the unfathomed history of ourplanet.

Pakistani pink Himalayan salt was formed in the Precambrian era, about600 million years ago, as a great inland sea evaporated. The salt is rich iniron, calcium, and 82 other trace minerals—in a remarkably similar balance asthat of the human body. Volcanic and other geological activity then sealed thesalt in a hermetic vault where, over eons, it was subjected to the intensepressure and heat of the deep earth. Over countless ages the land rose tobecome the Himalayas.

Meanwhile, the scattering of Eukaryotic cells that comprised all life onearth 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 darklyin the depths of the earth. Dinosaurs grew to towering heights, mammals peekedfrom beneath the leaves, and birds took flight. Grazing and carnivorousmammals, and then primates took hold, and still the salt remained in darkness.

Man appeared, gawking at the heavens and whittling spears, then scatter-ing across Asia and beyond. 1.8 million years later, one lovely evening in 326BC, Alexander the Great gave his troops a rest in the Khewra area of what isnow Pakistan. An observant fellow noted in his diary that the horses were takenwith licking the rocks — and lo, salt was discovered. Some eighteen centurieslater, Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar was born. At the age of thirteen, the boy’sfather fell to his death from the library stairs, and Akbar ascended to rule,eventually becoming the Mughal empires greatest ruler. Akbar’s two lastingcontributions were the vast accession- ing of art from around the world intothe Mughal collections, and the introduction of standardized salt mining atKhewra.