Friday, 11 February 2011

Cooking with Himalayan Pink Salt Blocks/Mixed Grill event

 Home made grissini with Hawaiian volcanic black salt

 I strained goat's yoghurt to make goat's curd dip
Curing salmon between Himalayan salt blocks 
The first lot of scallops were quite thick and took a while to cook...
So I sliced them in half...they were perfectly seasoned simply by cooking on the salt block 
 This thinly sliced mango with Kala Nemak, sulphuric black salt, was topped by smoked salt, vanilla and  honey icecream, toasted coconut and candied lime strips
Pecan caramels with fleur de sel from Discover Unearthed
 I made my own Werther's caramel!


Margarita with umeboshi plum salt on the rim

Home made grissini with Hawaiian black salt

Goat's curd with citrus salt, crushed lemon oil, and chilli infused yuzu

Baba ganoush with smoked salt, topped with coriander and rose petal salt

Scallops with vanilla salt, cooked on Himalayan salt blocks
with a thinly sliced green apple and pear salad

Salmon cured between Himalayan salt blocks (using sugar, dill, tarragon and pink peppercorns)
served with small roasted potatoes with truffle butter and truffle salt

Mango slices with sulphuric salt and honey and smoked salt vanilla icecream (home made)

Salted caramels 'fleur de sel' with pecans

Sunday I spent preparing the salt blocks. You need to heat them up slowly to 500F to 600 F before using them for the first time. Using my three oven Aga, I heated them on each shelf for 15 minutes, working my way up in temperature from the bottom shelf of the simmering oven to the top shelf of the roasting oven. This took one and half hours in total. Mark Bitterman says in his book Salted that the blocks are at the right temperature when you put your hand a couple of inches away and it feels uncomfortably hot.
 I lugged back four salt bricks from New York along with a vast selection of salts bought at The Meadow, 11 kilos in total  (at customs I confessed "I have alot of white powder in my baggage"). These bricks, especially selected by Mark Bitterman, so that they didn't crack or explode in the heat, were fine. I also bought two much cheaper blocks from a horse suppliers 'salt licks' Bitless Bridle, however these were of much poorer quality and cracked in the oven.
You can also heat the salt blocks up on a gas hob, again starting slowly and gradually increasing the heat to 450, 500F.
In the tests that I did it seemed that drier foods worked better on the salt blocks, the wetter the food, the saltier it became. You want a slight seasoning. If the food is rather wet, like scallops, you want to cook it quickly, so a high temperature is desirable.
To clean and reuse the salt blocks: wait until they have cooled down then give them a good scrub.
I also used the salt blocks for curing salmon. I simply put the salmon sides with sugar, herbs and pink peppercorns between the cold blocks of salt and left them for 12 hours. It worked perfectly.
I'm afraid I don't have lots of pretty pictures of the food I made that night, because I was so busy! This week has been pretty full on, three events, whereas I normally do one.
Tomorrow I'm making lunch and doing the wine and snack bar at the Fire and Knives Mixed Grill food conference at Conway Hall in Holborn. It looks like a fascinating event, with many short talks on different foodie subjects, cabaret acts and an ether bar by Bompas & Parr. I will be giving a short talk and tasting of different salts at 3.50 pm after lunch is out of the way.  Tickets can be bought here £20
Lunch tickets can be bought here £25.

So far my lunch menu is this:

Scallop soup

Poached salmon with cucumber scales
Roast potatoes with truffle salt

Pavlovas and blancmange

Italian cheeses, biscuits and truffle honey (yum!) by The Deli Station

Wine is for sale, by the bottle and glass, provided by Ten Green Bottles

Domaine de la Paleine Saumur Brut NV - white fizz

An interesting sparkling Domaine du Fontenay National 7 NV - red fizz

Tradivin Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2007 - white

L'Astore Masseria Jema 2007 - red

Vintage crockery and glass ware will be provided by Bristol Vintage

Snack Bar:
Wine for sale by the glass or bottle
Toasted taleggio and St Johns sourdough sandwiches
Small plates of olives ect
More stuff that I will think of later today!

I'm providing proper cups and glasses as I hate disposables but if people could bring them back, would be much appreciated!


  1. I bought some pink salt too recently - but it was Murray River salt from Australia and in lovely fleur de sel type pink flakes, was your smoked salt Cornish - they seem to have had a big success recently with their flavoured salts.

  2. Sounds wonderful - I should try and persuade my date to take me there! I loved reading and learning about these salt blocks - such an education! Learn new things here every week! Thanks! xxx

  3. just wanted to say thank you for yesterday... i've written a blog post all about it

  4. Where is a good place in the UK to get these salt blocks.. (sadly no plans to jet to NY at the mo)


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