Wondering what to do with that Himalayan salt block that someone gave you for Christmas years ago? Cooking tofu on a salt block makes wonderful, delicious tofu! Of course we think tofu is wonderful anyways, but in case you’re on the fence, this is how to make tofu taste good. (Plus we include an awesome 4-ingredient marinade for tofu!) Some people have a hard time wrapping their head around cooking on a block of salt; it helps to understand that you are basically using the salt block as a griddle (and it will be just as hot as a griddle). While salt block cooking is typically thought of in the context of meat and grilling, cooking tofu on your big old block of salt, on your stove top in your kitchen, yields a tofu unlike any other. Don’t believe us? Check it out:
Tofu Cooked on a Salt Block
Nobody is really quite sure when cooking on a block of salt became a thing, but we do know when the salt itself became a thing: about 600million years ago (give or take a year), when an ancient sea dried up, leaving behind its salt which was eventually compacted and solidified into rock. Most “Himalayan” salt blocks actually come from Pakistan, which has one of the largest salt mines in the world, the Khewra salt mine. As local lore has it, the salt mines were discovered when Alexander the Great’s horses kept licking the ground around the mines. That was around the 4th century, and it would be centuries (12, in fact) before solid blocks of salt were put to household or culinary use. According to BespokePost, “The earliest known human use of Himalayan salt blocks dates back to around the 16th century, when a chunk of the translucent pinkish salt broke from within a mine and was then carved into food-bearing blocks and other household items by the locals at the time.”
Himalayan salt blocks are great as both really cool (no pun intended, but what the hey…) serving platters for cold things like sushi, and for cooking, and they are really great at each of these because of their ability to maintain a steady temperature over long periods of time. (That said, you don’t want to use a single salt block for both cooking and for chilled serving, because once you cook on a salt block it just doesn’t look as pretty for serving cold things.) To use a chilled salt block as a serving platter for cold food you just, well, chill it. Cooking on a salt block, however, takes a bit less cavalier approach. If you don’t already know how to heat your salt block for cooking, there’s a great article about salt block cooking over at Wellness Mama that we recommend.
Don’t have a Himalayan salt block? This seems like a pretty decent one on Amazon. There are some bad reviews but they are mostly for the serving tray (apparently the handle breaks off, but we wouldn’t use that anyways), while some of the other salt blocks are reviewed poorly for the salt block itself arriving cracked.
Tofu Cooked on a Himalayan Salt Block
1 block of refrigerated tofu (the kind that is packed in water), pressed for at least 15 minutes
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon Sambal Oelek (or other chili sauce, but nothing beats Sambal Oelek, we buy it in a 2-pack here on Amazon)
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
4 Tablespoons liquid aminos (can also use soy sauce or tamari)
Cut the pressed tofu into slabs (i.e. cutting from the short end to the other short end); each slab should be about 1/2-inch thick. Place the slabs of tofu into a container with an airtight cover, or into a large ziplock bag. Whisk the rest of the ingredients together and pour over the tofu, and seal the container. Turn the container over a few times to get the tofu throughly coated. Marinate for at least an hour (you will be heating your salt block over the course of an hour anyways, keeping in mind that you have to heat it sloooooowly so that it doesn’t crack apart), rotating the container or bag every 15 minutes or so to ensure that the tofu gets good and marinated.
NOTE: This is a wonderful general purpose marinade, just remember that the proportions are 1:1:1:4, or 1 part sesame oil to 1 part Sambal Oelek to 1 part maple syrup to 4 parts liquid aminos (or soy sauce or tamari).
When your salt block is ready for action (you will know if you put a drop of water on it and the drop of water immediately sizzles), remove the tofu from the marinade and pat it dry with a paper towel. It’s very important that your tofu not be dripping wet, as that can damage your salt block.
Place the slabs of tofu on the hot salt block and cook for 10 minutes, then flip over and cook for another 10 minutes.
Remove from salt block and serve. We serve it over rice and pour the rest of the marinade over it as sauce, and it is freakin’ delicious!
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This is an 8×8 Himalayan salt block
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