Rock the Block
The Norsemen of yesteryear knew what they were doing.
Out of necessity, they preserved fish by packing it in salt. We have since learned to refrigerate, but there is nothing quite like the power of sodium chloride to deliciously alter food. Case in point: silky textured gravlax, bright with the flavors of dill and brown sugar.
Salt-curing fish always sounded, to us, like a daunting project . Then salt connoisseur Mark Bitterman of The Meadow blew our minds with his revolutionary technique.
Bitterman trumpets pink Himalayan salt blocks; the marblelike slabs are some of the more beautiful pieces you could add to your kitchen arsenal.
Begin by layering herbs and fish between two salt blocks (see the recipe here), securing the sandwich with plastic wrap. Go about your business for a few days. Then unwrap the result: an outstandingly seasoned piece of cured fish. Standard curing with loose salt can pull too much moisture from the fish, degrading the texture, but salt blocks keep the salmon firm.
These blocks have endless applications beyond curing. Serve a caprese salad on one, seasoning the food as it sits. Or try heating a block on the grill for a salty sear to a steak.