For a bit over three months, a beautiful and heavy Himalayan salt block has been sitting on my dinning table, waiting impatiently to change surfaces from a Norwegian pre-assembled tabletop to a German built furnace. It was giving to me as a christmas present; when I first got it there was an excitement around the novelty of this object and I just spent hours over the internet, reading and watching instructional videos about its usage, maintenance, suggestions and even some recipes. A few interesting facts about salt blocks worth knowing for all of you interested in acquiring one; the dense crystalline composition, 95-98% sodium chloride, plus ten other mineral- add complex flavor to all kind of food and meats, it is naturally anti-microbial and the cleanest salt in the world, it can be used for both hot and cold servings, and lastly, it builds a patina, meaning it will change in coloration over time and use.
To use it, imagine as if it were a iron skillet or any other sauce-pan, place it directly on top of a grill or stove-top and cook over it, no seasoning needed, of course. For tonight's recipe and the first use of the salt block, I opted for seafood, it makes sense to pair the salinity and natural seasoning with some form of fish and its original color reminds me of either tuna steak or salmon, so that makes the association even stronger. Scallops have a very strong sea flavor to them, to which case a chimichurri sauce with the garlic and a touch of white wine vinegar, evens out the palette at the end. I will also demonstrate the same recipe with an alternate of pan searing, because not everybody has salt block laying around the kitchen.
For the Chimichurri:
1 cup of parsley
2 tbsps oregano
2 tbsps white wine vinegar
1/2-3/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 tsp red pepper flakes
6 U-10 Sea scallops
First off, place the salt block over the stove-top and heat up at medium flame; depending on the width, it could take more or less time, mine is 2" so a good 20-25 minutes will do. To ensure its at prime point, let a drop of water touch the surface, if it evaporates immediately, then its hot enough to cook over it.
Finely chop the parsley, the oregano and the garlic. On a bowl, mix olive oil, white wine vinegar and red pepper flakes; incorporate the leaves into it and mix until the greens are coated with a thick layer of oil. As a recommendation, (or as a matter of personal like) chimichurri always tastes better either the next day or a couple hours after preparation, because then all the flavors come to closure together after a long time.
If you're using the salt block, don't season the scallops, instead, just drizzle a bit of olive oil to them and place on the block. Always place your scallops clockwise, since it doesn't take much time to cook before they start getting chewy (approx. 4-5 min. each side), so one can remember which to turn first and follow a sequence. For a sauce pan, its the same process, but you do have to season the scallops with salt, pepper and old bay, melt butter with a drizzle of olive oil on the pan and cook accordingly.
To plate, simply serve a bit of the chimichurri either under or on top of the scallops, straight of the hot pan.
This definitely is a quick, elegant and very delicious recipe to impress dinner guests or even yourself. The main difference I noticed for the salt block on the scallops, is that it cooks them very tender and without a slightly burnt crust on the borders, and the flavor added to it by the salt itself is indeed very complex, I can't really identify specific notes.
Thank you for reading, keep posted on new articles and recipes!
See you next Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday!