Salt Block Cooking: Food and Water Content - Himalayan Salt
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Salt Block Cooking: Food and Water Content

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Salt block cooking with shrimp is an easy example to demonstrate how the water in food will take up a lot of salt from the surface of the block while cooking. Shrimp are fabulous coming off the block, however, shrimp that are waterlogged from being frozen, will take on a lot of salt and perhaps become too salty to enjoy. This happens when the water in the food is expressed onto the surface of the block while it cooks. This water then dissolves the salt on the surface, where it will directly add to the salty flavor of the food.  Steps should be taken to reduce food water content prior to cooking it. On the other side, shrimp that is fresh and has a lot less water will produce a better result without much additional care. In the picture above, note the water that is boiling on the surface of the block. This free water is dissolving salt from the block which will impart salt to the food.

Key Points

Most of the foods you will cook won’t be a problem, however, here are some ways to reduce the water in food going on the block when you are concerned:

1. Use paper towels and pat dry the food to remove excess water. Even using slight pressure may be helpful.

2. Pre-cook food when necessary. The French technique of ‘sweating’ vegetables in a pan prior to use in stock, uses a oil as a medium along with high heat to release water from the vegetables and intensify their flavor. This is suitable idea where we want to reduce water prior to cooking on the salt block and may serve as a helpful technique. It also reduces the cooking time on the block which also reduce salt uptake.

3. Use fresh not frozen food. Food that is frozen breaks down at the cell level where the water in the cell freezes and burst the cell. This process preserves the food, though it increases the free water mobility in the structure of the food. As the food is heated this water easily escapes, gets to the surface of the block and dissolves more salt.

4. Consider the additional water in using a marinade. Marinades work to break down meat and hydrate it. Be sure to pat dry overly wet items before placing them on the block.

5. Food can also be too dry or in some cases be dried out quickly by the high temperatures of the salt block cooking. Take the mushrooms in the video below. They are full of water, in fact mushrooms are mostly water, however, when cooked on the salt block their water evaporates quickly and dries them out. Here at the end of cooking you can dribble a little water on them that will dissolve some salt and add to their flavor. A lot will go along way so experiment with a small batch.  Oil is sprayed on the block with a handy Oil Sprayer in the video and I have one handy all the time. It just makes it easy to get a little oil on the surface of the block without the hassle of a brush.


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