citrus-cured-salmon

I love leftovers.  I can eat soup for days.  Just about any meat can make a mean meal on day two. Mac and cheese, yes please. But fish – no thanks. Underwater creatures just don’t hold the same appeal to me when reheated, repurposed or redone.

So when I saw that I had a bit more salmon than I knew we would eat for dinner, I didn’t cook it. Thankfully, I remembered seeing a quick citrus salt cure on wrightfood when I was scoping foodblogsearch.com for info on fish in parchment. And once I popped those packets in the oven, I zested up some lemons and oranges, mixed some sugar and salt and had my first go at home cured salmon.

citruscuredsalmonsteps

Knowing that the piece I was using was teeny-tiny (I cut off the thinner side from the salmon that I was using for the papillotes so it would all cook evenly), I wouldn’t feel terrible if it all went awry and I had to toss it.

Well, suffice it to say, it didn’t go awry.  It was exactly how cured salmon should be. I prefer this to smoked salmon, as I think the smokiness can often be overwhelming (in the same way the 80′s are – and for some reason smoked salmon and the 80′s are very connected to me…I guess I saw it a lot as a kid at brunch).

citrus-cured-salmon

Here, the citrus brings the same brightness that it would to cooked fish, but in a more subtle but also intense way. Subtle since the zest was washed away and the lemon isn’t the first thing to hit your tongue, but intense, as it has been marinating in the citrus oils for days – so it thoroughly permeates the meat of the fish.

And as the salmon is the so fresh, it doesn’t need to be camouflaged with cream cheese, a dense bagel, capers, onions, etc. etc. The cookbook where this recipe was originally published recommends serving the fish with a green salad and toast. Matt seconded that, preferring bread to toast.

home-cured-salmon

However, since I am decadent, it’s winter and I was on the leftover prowl, I quickly roasted a few potato slices, to serve as the base, then topped it off with sour cream and dill. Maybe I’ll try the salad version in summer … maybe not!  It would also be great with pumpernickel bread and mustard sauce.

This salmon is perfect party food, if you are willing to share. If you want to just savor all it on your own, it puts a tuna sandwich (even the best of’em) to shame.

citruscuredsalmon

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Citrus Cured Salmon
adapted from The Scandanavian Cookbook via Wrightfood

NOTE: This recipe is for a full side of salmon. I did this with just a teeny piece of salmon, so I reduced the amounts here by quite a bit, but kept the ratio (well, the sugar/salt ratio – I went a bit wild on the zests).  Oh, and I added the whole cracked peppercorns, because I’m crazy like that.  I am excited to give it a go on a bigger piece.

Oh – and I forgot a bit about the freezing part, because I really wanted to try it out. Oops!

zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
½ T. whole black peppercorns, cracked
1½ c. superfine sugar
10 oz sea salt
1 side of salmon, filleted, skinned, pin bones removed

for serving: additional orange and lemon zest

Mix the zests together with sugar and sea salt. Rub this mixture over the entire surface of the salmon (front and back), and wrap the fillet in a few layers of plastic wrap.  I found it easiest put half the mixture on a large piece of plastic warp, top it with the salmon and then the remaining salt.  That way all the cure stayed inside the little package.

Place it in a dish (it might well leak liquid) and refrigerate for 3 days, turning every 12 hours.

(If you are using a smaller piece of fish, you will need less time.  For instance, I cured that little piece for about 1½ days, and it maybe didn’t even need that long, it was pretty firm.  Matt {the bloke from whom I found this recipe} used a piece that was ¾lb. and felt 2 days would have been perfect.  You will be able to feel the texture of the fish changing when you turn it.  You don’t want it totally firm or hard.)

Take the salmon out of the fridge after 3 days (or less), remove the plastic wrap, and wash the fillet under cold water, to remove the cure. Wrap again in plastic wrap, and pop in the freezer for 12 hours.

Defrost the salmon in the fridge. When defrosted slice the salmon into thin slices. I like to lay the knife almost parallel to the cutting board, and just literally shave thin slices diagonally across the salmon fillet.

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