Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Salt Block Dilemma

What is the Salt Block Dilemma? According to Mark Bitterman’s book Salt Block Cooking after heating a salt block the color will change. So, a salt block can be used indefinitely for serving cool and room temperature recipes, but once you’ve cooked on it you can’t serve on it again.

The beauty of the salt block vanishes once it’s heated. It will turn paler and develop cracks. That’s why I bought a block for cooking and a bowl for serving. Once you’ve cooked on it you can use the same block for eggs, steak or even sea food.

My favorite food, many other people have stated the same thing, that cooking scallops on a salt block balances the buttery flavors with a spritz of citrus and reinforces the taste of the peppercorns.

Scallops are fun to cook, impressive to serve and tasty to eat. Serves 4

2 4x8x2 inch Himalayan salt bricks (or one 8x8x2 inch salt plate) cooking grade Himalayan salt blocks
1 1/4 pounds large wild-caught sea scallops (about 16)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cracked peppercorns
Finely shredded zest and juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 lime

Place the salt block(s) over a low gas flame and heat for 15 minutes. Raise the flame to medium and heat another 10 minutes. Raise the flame to high and heat another 15 minutes, until it is uncomfortable to hold your hand about 2 inches from the surface of the block for longer than 3 seconds (approximately 500°F).
While the salt block is heating pat the scallops dry and pull off their white gristly tendons (located on the side of the scallop) if not already removed. Coat the scallops with the olive oil and peppercorns and let stand at room temperature until the salt block is hot.
Place the scallops on the hot block.  The scallops should almost skitter across the top.  If they just plop there and sizzle modestly, the salt block is not hot enough. Once ready sear the scallops until browned and springy to the touch but still a little soft in the center, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Work in batches if your salt block cannot comfortably fit all the scallops at once.
Remove to a platter or plates, or carefully move the entire salt block to the table and set on a professional-grade oven mitt or ceramic trivet to serve still sizzling to your guests. (Do not use a metal trivet because it will conduct all that heat from your salt block to your table....and will ruin your table. Remember salt blocks can heat well in excess of 600F and the bottom of the block is hotter than the top). Scatter the citrus zest over top and drizzle with the juice.  Eat immediately. Yum Yum!

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