Grilling on a Himalayan Salt Plate looks really cool. And as Billy Crystal’s character on SNL used to say “It is better to look good than to feel good”. And in cooking, how things look is important. With the salt plate, you also get the benefit of things tasting great too. The salt transfers to the food during the cooking process and adds extra flavor. As a result, anything you might want a nice salty flavor on, such as any kind of meat I can think of, will benefit from cooking on the salt plate.
The marbling of the different colored veins of salt through the translucent block is a really nice effect. It makes a great conversation piece at a gathering of friends. Let them know that it comes from the Khewra salt mine in Pakistan, the second largest salt mine in the world. It lies near the Himalayan mountains, thus the name (better than calling them Khewra Salt Plates). The largest salt mine in the world is in Goderich, Ontario, and you can show off your vast knowledge by spouting that tidbit of information to your friends.
Is it a bit gimmicky? Well, maybe. I did like the flavor it imparted on the chicken, though the veggies didn’t seem to pick up much additional flavor. And it is a bit crowded to cook on. Large sea scallops worked well on this (recipe to follow soon), as there was enough room to cook them and they browned up nicely and got an extra salty flavor. And the presentation looked nice too. There is a limited amount of things you can reasonably cook for more than one or two people given the size. But for serving up some hot scallops as an appetizer at a party, it is pretty impressive.
They also can be cooled in the freezer and they retain their temp very well, so it can be used as an beautiful serving tray for cold or frozen items that accompany your otherwise grilled meal.
If you are going to serve on them, I do recommend the Salt Plate Holder. That makes it much easier to get off the grill. Otherwise you can slide a cookie sheet under it to get it off the grill.
Salt Plate on Gas grills:
To heat the salt plate, start it off on a cold grill. Use indirect heat. Start off on low for about 15 minutes. Every 15 minutes or so, raise the heat, going from low to medium-low, to medium-high, to high until you reach your desired temp. If you raise the heat of the salt block too quickly it could crack.
Salt Plate on Charcoal grills:
Set up your coals on one side, using a small to moderate amount of coals. This will allow you to start heating the salt plate away from the coals, and move them closer over time to allow the plate to heat slowly without cracking. I started with the bottom vents partially closed and the lid off for about 5 minutes, then put the lid on with top vents wide open for 15 minutes. If you want to really crank the heat, next open the bottom vents all the way and keep the lid on.
Once the salt plate is up to your desired temperature, it does a good job maintaining its heat. Just put on the food you are cooking and have at it.
They are easy to clean, just use a stiff brush under running water. The salt makes them naturally anti-microbial (so states the instructions) so you don’t have to worry about sanitizing them to the Nth degree. And don’t run them through the dishwasher. That wouldn’t be good on the salt plate or your dishwasher.
You can buy them from Amazon at the links below:
Salt Plate: http://amzn.to/1xBJGYI
Salt Plate Holder: http://amzn.to/1xBJpF0
I experimented with this tonight. I bought my salt block from Amazon & followed the curing instructions which just required heating the block in the oven slowly. It came with full instructions.
I bought chicken breast and thigh cutlets. I marinated them for a couple of hours in a bottled Italian dressing. I patted them dry & let them sit at room temp, covered with a paper towel for about 10 minutes.
I slowly heated the salt stone in the house oven over a period of 30 minutes while heating up the gas grill outside.
Once the outside grill reached 500+ degrees, I placed the salt stone on the grill & closed the cover to allow a minute or so to comeback to temp.
I placed the cutlets on the salt slab & closed the grill cover for 5 minutes.
Then, I turned the cutlets over, swabbing them across the black crusted residue on the salt slab which added color ( & I think additional salt flavor).
I again covered the grill & let the cutlets cook for 3 more minutes. Again I swabbed them over the crust black residue on the salt block and finally plated them, covered with foil.
I have to say this was the best chicken I ever cooked!! It was so moist & flavorful!
A little salty, which I like but I think it was because I swabbed the cutlets all over the adhered back residue.
As far as clean-up, that was more labor intensive than I like but again, totallly worth it.
I let the stone cool a but for about 30 minutes. Then I swabbed & scraped it with a new sponge that has a green nylon side which lifted the adhered remnants. I did not rinse it under water!!
I patted the stone down euthanasia paper towels & returned it to the house oven that was still a bit warm from heating up earlier. I will leave it there until I need it (or the oven) again.
So worth the effort, I promise.