As with many topics of culinary history, the origin of cooking foods encased in salt is up for debate. Several cultures lay claim to the invention — from the Iberian Spaniards and Portuguese, to the Mediterranean Italians and Greeks, and further east to the ancient Persians and Chinese.
Whatever the truth, salt-baking, or salt-roasting, has stood the test of time. Similar to tagines and clay pots, this centuries-old method traps steam heat to infuse moisture, amplify flavor and retain nutrients. So remarkably tender and succulent are the foods cooked inside these paradoxical salt igloos, that this otherwise humble technique has even been likened to the light-years-more-high-tech magic of sous vide.