Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Yesterday I grilled on a Himalayan salt block. If you've never heard of salt block grilling, don't feel bad. To start with I thought maybe I was supposed to use a grater and rub some salt off on my grilled food, but a salt block is actually meant to be used for serving or grilling (or even heated on the stove top with a ring to lift it off the heat).
Mark from The Meadow sent me a salt block which actually is hand cut in the Himalayan mountains. They work with small family companies and have absolutely beautiful pink salt block products with colors ranging from almost white with a hint of pink to dark red.
The first thing I tried out on the grilling salt block was Frank Corriher sausage (a local brand I love) and an egg. As you can see here, the salt block did a beautiful job on the breakfast meal.
Before I started griling on the salt block, I heated up coals with a chimney starter and offset in my Weber Kettle grill. Salt blocks absorb heat like cast iron but more than that and rated to heat up to 700 degrees (yes - super searing temperatures).
If you're not familiar with offset grilling, it just means that you put the coals to one side and have less direct heat on the cool side. So, I had hot coals to the right and just a few over to the left where I placed the salt block.
You get a better look at the offset grilling here. You can buy charcoal basket holders to do the offset, but a few stray coals over on the cooler side are not a big deal, so I just do it manually for now.
You'll also see the original color of the grill salt block. It's quite light colored to start with.
To heat up the grill and the salt block, I put the lid on with vents open top and bottom for about 30 minutes. That heat level was enough to do the sausage in less than five minutes (flipping once) and the egg in a little over a minute. That would be in a medium range on temperature - probably around 400 degrees F.
For hotter salt grilling, just add more coals than I ran and leave the lid on longer so that the salt block has time to get hotter. It conducts heat real well and holds it even when food is added.
As you can see, the salt block changes colors on the grill and with general use. Again, I'll compare it to cast iron. You know how cast iron comes in a gray color and then gets black with use. Salt blocks also mature with various colors as the salt block is used.
After I grilled the sausage and eggs, I put on some bacon wrapped fresh asparagus bundles.
Some people ask me how I get the bacon to come out just right on foods that grill quick like asparagus or shrimp. The trick there is to pan fry the bacon about half way. That evens out the difference in grilling times and means crisp and pretty bacon.
The heat from the salt block was so nice that it actually did an excellent job on the bacon which can still come out a little undercooked in spots when grilling. I just turned the asparagus bundles once, and the grill salt block crisped it up really nice. My son loved that but not the fresh asparagus. He prefers the mushy canned type.
The last thing I did on the salt block yesterday (since it started raining on me) was bananas. I just cut them in thick rings with the peel on. I left them on a few seconds and then flipped them and drizzled on butter and honey.
After the salt block cooled down (which takes a while), I brought it in and washed it with plain water and a green scratch pad. You just want to wash the grill salt block to get off any food left on there. This takes off a thin layer of salt each time. So eventually you do use up your salt block, but it is thick and good for a number of grillings. It depends on what and how much you are cooking, but mine looks about the same size as when I started.
If you're wondering why you'd add a grill salt block to your grill accessory collection, it adds a wonderful hint of flavor. It's not like table salt (which I don't like all that well). It is subtle and also has some trace minerals that give flavor layers to the grilled foods.
In addition, you can get that really high hot sear that a lot of grillers like. It's almost instant carmelization when heated to high temperatures.
Then, there's the cool factor. My family and friends were quite impressed with my gourmet skills. But, in fact, it's super easy to use a grill salt block, so you can be a grill star and not need any special training or practice.
I really loved the Meadow grill salt block. They really are fun, easy to use, and add such a nice flavor to your grilled foods.