Soooo…we have a new cooking toy! Nope, not a new spatula or frying pan or garlic press or egg separator. Tonya donned her Sherpa cap, strapped on the crampons and headed to the exotic and majestic region of the Himalayas where she hired local guides to help her make the arduous climb to the hidden source…Okay, okay, a little poetic license here as I exaggerate a bit. We are now proud owners of a Himalayan Salt Block!
What is a salt block and what does it have to do with cooking? A salt block is a slab of pure salt mined in the Himalayas and recently has become a fashionable way to cook, cool or serve foods. The salt block is resistant to bacteria and adds a natural seasoning while food is cooking or curing. The block can be heated up over 500 degrees and retains heat long enough to cook on after removing it from the heat source or can be frozen and used to to mix slab ice cream!
Since the block is made of pure salt there is a possibility of cracking if not heated properly so any recipes should incorporate plenty of time to pre-heat the block to the desirable temperature. The rule of thumb is 20 minutes on low, 20 minutes on medium and 20 minutes on high, then using the ‘sizzle test’ by sprinkling water on the block. Or you can by an infrared thermometer, which is cool because the thermometer uses a laser and is a great way to entertain pets while waiting for the block to heat up!
The block can be tempered on the stove-top or on a grill and then used in the oven for pizza or even cookies! A block heated to 500 degrees works great for searing rib-eye steaks or cooking most seafood and many varieties of vegetables.
Lime-Marinated Salt Block Shrimp Tacos
1 lb peeled and deveined medium shrimp
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 tbsps olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp chili powder
(Mix together and marinade shrimp for 1-2 hours)
4-6 small warm tortillas
Toppings of choice
Cook shrimp on 500 degree heated salt block, 2-3 minutes a side until no longer pink. Place shrimp on warm tortilla and cover with your favorite toppings such as salad greens, salsa, avocado or sour cream.
Of course, you don’t have to own a salt block to make shrimp tacos! Just cooking marinated shrimp on the grill and adding to a tortilla is a great substitute for traditional meat tacos and the shrimp cook pretty quick. The salt block does eliminate the need for skewers and help to keep from dropping shrimp through the grill grate!
Now for a beer! Since our first experience with the salt block cooking took place during the winter I decided to wash the shrimp tacos down with a Jolly Traveler Winter Shandy brewed by The Traveler Beer Co out of Burlington, VT. While I usually avoid wheat beers and beers that contain fruit, this beer was quite tasty with a hint of spiciness and oranges. (click here and let the sled dogs take you north)