This is a step-by-step guide for cooking on a Himalayan salt block. Cooking steak is one of the easiest ways to start using your Himalayan salt block. The process is the same for other foods - the only thing that changes is the cooking time. If you don't eat meat, you can substitute any of your favorite vegetables. For more information, check out our complete Guide to Himalayan Salt Blocks.
Step 1: Select the Right Block
If you want to cook on your salt block, make sure its at least 1.5 inches thick, preferably 2 inches thick. We work with local producers in Pakistan to make sure the blocks are made from high quality salt crystals. All blocks have some imperfections, but we grade all of our salt blocks by hand to help ensure your cooking experience is problem free.
Step 2: Heat Slowly
Heating your salt block is the most challenging part. The number one rule is - Go Slowly! Salt is a relatively soft cooking surface. As it heats, it will naturally develop cracks and crevices. These will grow overtime, until the block breaks. The slower you heat it, the longer it will last. This is especially important the first few times you use your block.
Place your block over a gas range or grill. If you have an electric stovetop, use a metal ring (such as a tart pan with a pop-off bottom, or wok ring) to lift the block off the burner. Start by heating the block on the lowest possible setting, for at least 15 minutes, until the block has warmed to about 200°F. After this, increase the heat increment about every 10 minutes, from low to medium and from medium to high. If you're not sure, go slower. It will take at least 35 minutes to heat. If your block is larger than 8x8x2, it will take a longer time to heat up. Smaller blocks will heat faster.
Step 3: Put Steak on Block
When the block is heated to at least 500°F, place thin strips of steak on it. If you cook on a salt block that is not hot enough, not only will you over-salt your food, but it will also degrade your block much faster. If you don't have an infrared thermometer, simply sprinkle a few drops of water on the block. If they sizzle vigorously and disappear immediately, the block should be hot enough for cooking. Or try to hold your hand two or three inches above the block. If you can't, its hot enough.
Make sure to cut thin slices, as steak is fairly moist and will pick up salt quickly. The effect of the salt on the food will depend on a variety of factors - moister, fat content, thickness, and the temperature of the block. Moister in the food will pick up salt faster, while fat will repel the salt.
Tip: We prefer tougher steaks like flank or hanger steak for salt block cooking because at the high temperatures the block will tenderize the meat while salting it. Cut the steak lengthwise across the grain in two long strips. Turn the strip perpendicular to the blade and cut quarter inch strips across the fiber of the meat, each about 2-3 inches long.
Step 4: Flip Steak
Use a thin metal spatula - don't use plastic. For medium-rare, it should only takes about 5 seconds to cook each side. The cook time depends on how thick the steak is and how hot you heated the block. If this is your first time cooking with Himalayan salt, we recommend cooking one piece at a time to make sure everything is right. Once you're comfortable, put on as many pieces as the block can hold without the pieces touching.
Step 5: Cook to Preferred Doneness
When the steak is done, remove from the block with your spatula. You can leave the block on the burner and cook with it for several hours, scrapping off any accumulated food matter with a metal scraper or spatula as you go.
Tip: Salt blocks have no lip, so water and fat drippings from the food will slide off. As they run over the side of the block, wipe with a damp cloth.
Step 6: Clean Block
Before cleaning, let your salt block cool down to room temperature - at least one hour. Moisten a sponge or scouring pad. Do not use soap - the powerful antimicrobial properties of the salt insure that it is always proper and ready for future use, with no need for detergents. Scrub the block to remove any stuck matter, and wipe clean with the sponge. Try to keep the block as dry as possible – the less water the better. Repeat until the block is free of any cooked on food.
Step 7: Store Block
Dry with a paper towel or clean cloth, and set on a drying rack. Store in any location where humidity can be kept to a minimum. Treated with care, a salt block can provide many uses.
Salt blocks turn opaque after being heated, and may develop fissures or even large cracks, and they may also take on color from the proteins cooked on it. After many uses (sometimes dozens), your salt block will break. Like life, salt is a complicated, wily, unpredictable substance. That is what gives it much of its charm.