To be completely honest, my original inspiration to make this was based purely on that brilliant sunset of colours. I had seen pictures of beet cured salmon floating around the internet and developed a bit of a visual crush (I am, after all, a graphic designer by trade- aka a sucker for pretty things).
After some poking around on the internet I learned, to my delight, that beet cured salmon is not only beautiful, but also incredibly easy to make and fantastically delicious- a triple threat, if you will. So, it was decided.
Growing up on the coast of British Columbia, salmon has always been a big part of my diet. I tend to have a preference for wild Sockeye, which is naturally brilliant red (again, sucker for pretty things), but we also get some spectacular Coho in our local waters. Actually, come to think of it, Coho salmon tends to have lighter flesh… if I made it with Coho I bet the sunset effect would be even more pronounced…
No, this is fine. This is delicious. (but next time…)
Right. Back to the recipe. I grew up eating a lot of salmon. Grilled, candied, smoked, cedar planked, poached… one salmon preparation I didn’t see too often in my corner of the world however, was salt curing.
Salt cured salmon, or gravlax, is a Scandinavian delight. While this recipe cannot claim to be completely traditional for gravlax purists, the flavours are inspired by a traditional smorgasbord- dill, lemon, salt, a dash of pure white liquor. I used gin in this recipe since I really like the herbal undertones and juniper base (juniper berries also feature in many Scandinavian recipes), but vodka would work just as well.
This recipe is great for guests or parties since it’s about 10 minutes of effort (and, yes, two days of waiting) for something really spectacular. Plus, just think, starting two days before your party means that on the day-of you have extra time for relaxing (and snacking).
I like to serve this with some good dark rye bread- you know the type, the beautiful brick that you slice nice and thin and packs a punch of flavour. You know, this stuff. Maybe a scrape of crème fraîche or some cream cheese, squeeze of lemon, fresh dill or a caper or two, some thinly sliced onion or radish… Breakfast, lunch or dinner- the beauty of this spread is that it works for any hour of the day.
Of course, don’t feel like you have to prep yourself a mini-smörgåsbord to enjoy this, I love eating it straight on it’s own as well!
|Beet Cured Salmon with Dill, Tarragon & Fresh Horseradish|| |
- 800 g wild salmon fillet, skin on, deboned
- Beet Cure:
- 2 large red beets, peeled and quartered
- 2 lemons, zested
- 6 Tbsp rock salt (coarse kosher salt)
- 2 Tbsp demerara sugar
- ¼ cup gin or vodka
- Herb Cure:
- 1 small bunch fresh dill, finely chopped
- 1 small bunch fresh tarragon, finely chopped
- 4 Tbsp horseradish root, grated
- ¼ cup gin
- In a food processor, whiz together the beets and lemon zest until they become a smooth paste. Transfer the beet mixture to a small bowl and mix in the rock salt, sugar and gin.
- Lay the salmon, skin side down, in a large marinating dish or baking tray. Using a spatula, evenly cover the salmon with the beet mixture. Wrap the salmon in two layers of wax paper and then cover the tray with a tight layer or two of saran wrap- the trick is to give the curing salmon as little air exposure as possible. Place in the fridge for 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, gently unwrap the salmon and use a spoon to slough off the beet mixture. Gently splash the salmon with a bit of water to rinse off any remaining cure and rinse off the marinating tray.
- Mix together the herb cure ingredients in a small bowl, place the salmon (skin side down) back in the marinating tray, and press the herb cure on to the fish. Try and make sure all of the fish is covered with the herb cure- once again, trying to reduce the amount of air getting to the flesh of the salmon. Wrap again in two layers of wax paper, and seal the tray with some saran wrap. Refrigerate for another 24 hours.
- The next day, your cured salmon will be ready to enjoy. The herb mixture does not need to be rinsed off- just thinly slice the salmon and serve it atop some brown bread (or just eat it on it's own, like I do :). Possible sides or condiments include: lemon wedges, fresh dill, crème fraîche, cream cheese, thinly sliced radish, thinly sliced onion, capers... have fun and get creative!