I’m a sucker for kitchen toys- from the wildly specific, and hilariously useless cantaloupe knief, to more useful things, like my pastry cutter/scooper I cannot live without.
After receiving the exhaustive encyclopedia (with a limited few recipes sprinkled in) called “Salted: A Manifesto” by Mark Bitterman, my interested in all sorts of gourmet salts and associated products has skyrocketed. Enter one such toy: the Himalyan Salt Plate (we got ours at Sur La Table).
It is a thing of absolute beauty, it’s solid, weighs a ton, really feels like a piece of a prehistoric mountain is on your counter. The advantages of cooking on a salt plate are that while it does take a long time to heat up, it will get very hot and retain it’s temperature for a very long time. Meaning, once hot, you could put it on the dinner table and let people cook their own food, for example.
It imparts a very subtle but delicious flavor on food, a mineral essence that is hard to place, but complex and delicious. As such, in general delicate foods, like the scallops we made pictured here, shrimp or fish is likely to be the most successful. The plate gets VERY hot, so the scallops really caramelized nicely. The amount of salt and minerals actually transferred to the food has to do with the amount of moisture on the plate, so you need to be a little careful with what you decide to cook on it. You can heat a salt plate on the grill, on a stovetop gas flame or in the oven. Note, however, that that very pretty plate does change colors once it’s been heated through.
In theory, salt is completely antibacterial, and all you have to do to clean it is to run it under warm water and dissolve/scrub off the top layer to clean it. They recommend that buy and keep a separate one to use for display/service purposes (cheese plate, raw veggies, etc.) – because– heat will crack and discolor it. Sadly, this is true. And cleaning it has turned out to be a lot more.. involved, and less productive, than I had hoped.
Still, for $30 bucks, this really is a show stopper for your next dinner party. And totally worthwhile to get one just for cold cuts, cheeses and other non-cooked things– since ours ended up kinda grungy looking.
P.S. The scallops were marinated in a ginger/soy/garlic glaze, patted dry, then seared.