Saturday, September 6, 2014

Salt savvy ...

Wow!  I've been away from blogging for a month and have so much to share, including a new-found love of salt.  I spent some time during my 'vacances d'été' reading a back issue of Kinfolk Magazine, and was delighted to learn how this simple little mineral can elevate food in ways that are new to my culinary experience.

I love it when reading exposes me to something entirely new and unfamiliar. In this case, it's all about salt block cooking, specifically using Himalayan salt blocks for bringing out the best in foods.

The Kinfolk article features an interview with Mark Bitterman, the sultan of salt who owns The Meadow, a specialty boutique that sells salts, chocolates and bitters from around the world with locations in Portland, Oregon, and New York City’s West Village. He has authored several books on salt block cooking that I'm dying to get my hands on very soon, including: Salted: A Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes and the follow-up James Beard Award-winning Salt Block Cooking.

Bitterman sums up salt block cooking this way, "Sautéeing on Himalayan salt blocks creates exponentially more flavor than sautéeing in a conventional skillet. This is because a salt block cooks your food in two ways. At a blazing 500 degrees or higher, the heavy block of salt has enormous thermal mass, sizzling away moisture to produce a thick crust of rich, concentrated flavor. At the same time, the Himalayan salt itself sets to work, bursting cell membranes, intermingling juices, and breaking loose new flavors that in turn sizzle away to make for even more concentrated flavors."

How could I not be hooked? Once I read Bitterman's recipe for Salt Block Scallops with Szechuan Peppercorns and Citrus, I knew I had to get my hands on a salt block of my own. (I'm thinking Happy Birthday to me ...)

Anyone who knows me knows my love of sweets, so the thought of using a Himalayan salt block to freeze ice cream made this idea a done deal.

I'm ready to succumb to the allure of salt.

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