These 10-pound pink slabs deliver an unparalleled cooking experience. Whether used cold or hot, the block will make you look like a pro with little effort.
For the simplest of approaches, you can use a room temperature block, which will provide an excellent salt infusion to your foods. Alternatively, place your block in the freezer overnight to create more subtle salt infusions. Either way - place some veggies, fruits or cheeses on top, and let it sit for several minutes before digging in. Throw on some carpaccio or sushi-grade fish on the block and watch the food cure right in front of your eyes.
Sweet tooth? Place ice cream, chocolate or caramel on the ice-cold surface of a frozen block, and have everyone eat directly off the block for an unreal experience.
Pro tip: Once you've heated the block, it's tougher to try the cold curing methods. If you want to try both, go cold first, and then explore the hot recipes.
Have some more time on your hands? Heat the block up on your stove or grill and sear vegetables, meat or seafood. The block retains heat better than the best cookware and allows for an even sear. Don't pre-salt your food as the block will impart natural salt flavors into whatever food you choose to cook.
Pro tip: Salt uniquely retains heat for long periods. Once heated, either cook your food with the heat still going or carefully move the block to your table and have everyone cook off the block together using the remnant heat.
How to heat your block
Things to keep in mind:
- Make sure your block is completely dry before heating
- When you heat your block, expect it to discolor. Small cracks and fissures will occur, but this is all part of the process
- Although you can use your block on a stove top, we DO NOT recommend heating it in an oven
- The salt block gets to temperatures north of 500 F° - handle with care
For a gas range
Place the block on your stove top. Heat at low heat to get the process going. After 10 minutes, turn the gas to medium and heat for another 10 minutes. Finally, turn the heat up to high. You'll be ready to cook when the block gets to about 500 degrees. A quick check is if your hand can get no closer than about an inch to the block.
For a grill
Place your salt block on your grill. If you're using charcoal, keep the coals to one side and place the block on the other side to take advantage of the indirect heat. If using a gas grill, start the heat on low and increase heat in 10 minute increments, as described in the gas range instructions.
For an electric range
Don't place the block directly on the coils - you need a buffer. Place a circular ring of metal such as a wok ring or pastry ring to create a small air gap between the heating element and the block - be creative. Once set up, heat as described above.
Treat your block well and it will last - when heated, you can get more than 10 uses out of it; when only used cold, it lasts much longer.
Allow your block to cool completely first. Wipe the salt block clean with a moist sponge or towel. Do not use soap - the antimicrobial properties of salt keep the block clean with no need for detergents. Next, scrub the block with a brush or scouring pad to remove any remnant food. Wipe it off with your moist sponge/towel and repeat until the block looks clean. Dry it with a paper towel and then set it out to dry.
This process removes only a very thin layer of the salt and preserves a relatively smooth surface. Throughout this process, keep the block as dry as possible – the less water the better. Never submerge the block in water.
Store in any location where humidity and light is at a minimum. If you live in a humid climate, wrap the block in a towel before storing.
Follow the above and you'll be one step closer to your own program on the food network.