Who ever said that curing your own food at home was difficult? With some really simple ingredients and a touch of patience you can cure your own salmon. The most expensive part is the fish itself! And, to be honest, the amount of time you’re actually working on it isn’t that long.
This started with a 1lb salmon fillet. Mix together 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup kosher salt. Put half of the mixture in a container that just fits the fish. Then lay in the fish and put the rest of the sugar/salt mixture over the top of the fish. Then, in this order, cover the fish with 1/2 of a thinly sliced fennel bulb (including stalks and leaves), 1/4 cup toasted fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon of toasted white peppercorns, and 1 thinly sliced lemon.
Now, you want to put a plate or another casserole dish on top of he fish and put a few cans or other weight on top of it (should weigh at least a few pounds.) Put this stack in the refrigerator for 24 hours and you’re set! Do check on the fish 1/2 way through the process and redistribute the mixture to be sure that all of the fish is being infused evenly. I even turned the fish over. Just as a side note, if you want a more traditional gravlox-type cure, use white peppercorns, coriander seeds, dill, and crushed garlic.
This is the finished product. It’s much firmer that it was when it went in. The weight helps press out moisture while the salt actually pulls it out. If it’s mushy anywhere, you still have ‘raw’ salmon that may need some more cure time. Notice the change in color too. The flesh should be firm but with some give.
Now your ready to slice. It definitely takes practice. I used a sushi knife and I still didn’t do that well with it – there was too much drag. But you can see the results. Overall, I’d say it went well for never having to slice my own lox.
What better way to take the salmon for a test drive than on a toasted bagel with tomato, red onion, and cream cheese? The only thing missing was the nice salty goodness of some capers. There’s more left though and it will keep for a good three weeks. The recipe is an adaptation from Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s book, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. Hey, even Tastespotting posted it for all its wondrous glory!