Traditionally salmon was cured to preserve it for a long time using a combination of salt and sugar, which ‘cooks’ the fish by drawing out moisture and creating a syrup. Gravadlax is probably the most well-known version of curing, which also includes dill and mustard to flavour the salmon.
I’ve taken some of my favourite ingredient combinations to give a delicate aromatic flavour to the fish. The gin cured salmon is then ready for slicing and serving for brunch, lunch, canapés or as an impressive centrepiece.
1 side of fresh salmon, skin on and pin-boned
¾ cucumber, halved, seeds removed
3 tbsp juniper berries
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
100ml cup gin
grated zest of 1 lemon
100g caster sugar
100g coarse sea salt
1. Trim any thin bits from the sides and tail end of the salmon fillet to make it into a rough rectangle – this may seem a waste, but thinner bits will over-cure and be inedible, so it’s better to eat them now.
2. Grate the cucumber, and lightly squeeze out any excess liquid. Put the cucumber into a bowl. Crush the juniper berries, coriander seeds and peppercorns in a pestle and mortar or by wrapping them in a tea towel and bashing them with a rolling pin. Add to the cucumber along with the gin, lemon zest, sugar and salt, and mix everything together.
3. Put two large sheets of clingfilm on to a large baking tray that is big enough to fit the salmon. Lay the salmon skin-side down. Spread the curing mixture all over the fish and tightly wrap in the clingfilm. Make sure there are no holes or gaps, otherwise any liquid will leak while the salmon is curing.
4. After about 24 hours, remove the clingfilm and scrape off any of the curing mixture, then briefly rinse the salmon under cold water and pat dry.
5. Using a sharp knife, thinly slice the salmon, starting at the tail end at a low angle to remove the salmon from the skin in thin slices. Any unused salmon will last up to 1 week in the fridge.
Recipe from The Flexible Pescatarian by Jo Pratt, RRP £20, White Lion Publishing