Salt is used in almost every dish to give it a nice savory taste and a depth of flavor. Sodium, which is a huge component of salt, is not necessarily bad. In fact, you need to consume a certain amount of sodium to properly maintain the functions of your muscles and nerves. However, consuming too much, i.e., over 1500mg of sodium per day, can increase your blood pressure, drive up the risk of heart disease, and damage your kidneys.
The first step you should take in order to decrease your sodium content is to know where your sodium is coming from. A lot of packaged food — such as bread, deli meat, and canned soup — have surprisingly high sodium content. Sodium can also be found in products normally seen as healthy, like sports drinks and fresh cheeses. Protect yourself from excess sodium by always reading the labels meticulously.
Now you might be asking, “Should I decrease the amount of salt I add on the food I cook?” The ultimate answer to that is, “Yes.” However, this may result in bland dishes that leave you unhappy. And an unhappy person will not likely follow their diet. Luckily, there is an alternative: cook your food on salt blocks.
Enter the Himalayan Salt Blocks
A Himalayan Salt Block, as its name suggests, is a large block of pink salt that has been hand-cut, polished, and carved to fit everyday cooking and serving needs. By using a salt block, you can add a subtle, but rich salt flavor to your dish without the need to cook food laden with regular salt.
How does it work? By simply cooking or serving your food on the salt block, the flavor is already added. You can totally skip adding any regular salt to your dish. The salt blocks have low porosity and moisture retention so you will be ingesting much less sodium that you normally would. Himalayan salt is also abundant with healthy minerals — such as potassium and calcium — that are great for regulating your body fluids, helping you get a good night’s rest, and improving digestion.
Cooking with a salt block does require a bit of preparation and research. Still, they are very versatile and have several unique characteristics. Below are some of the great benefits of using Himalayan salt blocks in your food activities include:
- Cooks Everything Evenly. Because of the salt block’s internal crystalline structure, heat spreads evenly throughout the entire block. So, when you’re cooking meat, fish, or vegetables, you can be assured that all the parts are cooked evenly, inside and out. The best kinds of food to cook are those that cook fast. These include steak, asparagus, broccoli, shrimp, fish fillets, and scallops.
Before using the block for cooking, however, it is important to heat and temper the salt block properly or it might crack or break. If you use and maintain it properly, then the salt block will last for a very long time.
- Keeps Chilled Food Cold. It’s amazing how long salt blocks can retain a nice, cool temperature. You just need to chill the salt block in your freezer for about an hour ahead of serving time, and then you can put anything that you want atop it. They’re great for keeping sushi, cheeses, condiments, pickled vegetables, and fruit nice and cold.
You can even use them to add a rich salty taste to desserts and pastries like ice cream and cookies. Or add syrup, nuts, and other ingredients to them while they’re atop the salt block.
- Works Great as Serving Platters. Himalayan salt blocks have a natural, gorgeous, sophisticated, and luminous appearance that makes them great for serving a variety of dishes. If you will be using the salt block primarily for serving, there are salt blocks that have more lines which add more detail and beauty to the blocks. Note, though, that these salt blocks can break more easily and are not recommended for cooking.
- Has a Naturally Anti-Microbial Surface. Because salt blocks have low moisture retention and porosity, they create a naturally anti-microbial environment – meaning they’re also easy to clean and maintain. Without using soap, simply wash them under warm water and then scrub lightly using a soft sponge or brush. Then, thoroughly remove the excess water and then store in a location where there is minimal humidity. Make sure to dry the salt block for at least 24 hours before using it again.
Starter Recipes to a Life with Less Sodium
Another remarkable thing about salt block cooking is that it really embodies the principle “the simpler, the better.” These recipes take less time and ingredients to create delicious and healthy dishes.
- Seared Tuna Steaks. Prepare a mixture of garlic, orange juice, honey, and mustard in a bowl for marinating your tuna steaks in. Then, put the tuna slices in and marinate them thoroughly. Cover and then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes in order for the flavor to seep in. You can also use this time to prepare the salt block for heating.
Afterwards, simply grill the tuna steaks on the salt block for about five minutes. You’ll notice the tuna steak will become light brown. And then, carefully turn each tuna steak and cook for an additional five minutes. Once done, enjoy lightly seared tuna steaks that are moist and have a wonderful depth of flavor.
- Salt Block Scallops w/ Tomato & Basil Vinaigrette. After preparing your salt block for heating, start making a glaze mixture for your scallops. In a small saucepan, melt unsalted butter over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic, and cook until the shallots have softened. Afterwards, add and stir in honey, lemon juice, and a dash of black pepper.
Next, make your vinaigrette by taking mustard and vinegar, and whisking them together in a medium-sized bowl. Drizzle in some olive oil and then stir in some cherry tomatoes.
Lastly, cook the scallops on the heated salt block while brushing them with the glaze mixture. They should turn light brown in around two to three minutes; turn them over to cook the other side while also adding the glaze mixture. Once the center is slightly opaque, drizzle with vinaigrette and enjoy scallops that are cooked perfectly inside and out.
There’s no excuse not to try out cooking with a Himalayan salt block with recipes as straightforward as these. Whether you’re cooking for yourself, your family, or guests, salt blocks will deliver a unique flavor and a great experience – without all the excess sodium.
M is a happily married Filipino mother to three wonderful little daughters, ages: 8 years, 5 years, and 4 months old. Her daily life is a struggle between being the Executive Content Director for Home Fine Living and deciding who gets to watch television next. She specializes in creating and editing content for female empowerment, parenting, beauty, health/nutrition, and lifestyle. As the daughter of two very hardworking people, she was brought up with strict traditional Asian values and yet embraces modern trends like Facebook, vegan cupcakes, and the occasional singing cat video.