Over the course of the past year I’ve purchased three Himalayan salt blocks to give as gifts. In case you haven’t heard of them, salt blocks are gorgeous, rosy-hued and crystalline service and cookware that can be used for all sorts of culinary applications. Each block is completely unique and millions of years old.
Cleo’s Fine Oils sells the salt block at their shop in Parole Town Center. Be leery of buying it at places like Marshall’s, where you can’t guarantee where it came from or what grade it is. You will be cooking at very high temps and putting food you will eat on it, so you definitely want the best….
Tonight, Mike Stotler of Stotler’s Home Cooking will be at Cleo’s to show you how to play in the kitchen with this cool new toy.
Mike is a stay-at-home dad with a true, deep passion for cooking. He is not a professionally trained chef. In fact, his first career was as a draftsman. He designed cancer treatment facilities all over the country. Several years ago he decided to return to food, which he believes is his true calling. “I believe that food is happiness and bringing people together over it is happiness”, he told me.
So What is a Salt Block?
Salt Blocks are slabs of pure salt mined from deep in the earth. High quality blocks such as those sold at Cleo’s are sourced from natural salt deposits found in the Himalayan mountain range of Pakistan. “The block is a fun creative kitchen tool”, says Mike. “But it is also an amazing, living part of the earth.”
The block can be used for searing, grilling, curing, baking and as a hot or cold display platter. It can even be used for making desserts! Really, wherever your imagination can go, the salt block can go too.
Salt blocks are sold in many forms–bowls, small plates or large platters– and varying degrees of quality. For hot applications, be sure to purchase a top grade block that is at least 2 inches thick. Cleo’s sells a variety of blocks ranging in price from a 4 x 8 x 2 brick for $25 to 8 x 12 x 2 platter for $75. Stotler recommends the 8 x 8 size for cooking since it easily fits most stovetops and grills.
The blocks are pretty sturdy, especially the thick ones used for hot applications. But they are still essentially salt. They can crumble or break if you aren’t conscious of proper usage and will eventually disintegrate. “These stones are millions of years old. Each one is carved from huge blocks in a factory. They could have internal fissures, they could have absorbed moisture– things that could make the stone split, so heating it gently and caring for it properly is the best way to go, even though this does take some time and preparation”, Mike advised.
One of Mike’s favorite ways to use a chilled block is to make chocolate shavings. He pours a thin layer of melted chocolate over a deeply chilled block. He sprinkles it with a little Celtic Sea Salt and chills again until the chocolate is set. Using a scraper, he shaves strips of chocolate for garnishing desserts. He also likes to make molded ice creams on the block. He’s promised to show me how he does this. We are going to make a video for you, and I will write a full tutorial with all the essential tips…..
He also has informative videos and photos about the Salt Block on Facebook and Instagram. No need to RSVP for the event at Cleo’s. Just pop by between 5 and 7 PM to talk to Mike and to sample some of Cleo’s signature products. Customers can enjoy 20% off oil and vinegar purchases during the event.
For more information on using a Salt Block, you can read “Salt Block Cooking” by Mark Bitterman ($25), available at Cleo’s.
I will post Mike’s Salt Block recipes ASAP…off to a little PT than OBX.Feel free to share...