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Beet Cured Salmon

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Beet cured salmon

The good life - you bake all your cakes and don't go near patisseries; grow veg, even if tomatoes are obliterated by dire weather every other year; bake bread having forgotten the taste of sliced white... I know, it's all not a huge deal. I had a friend who thought you were only entitled to eat meat if you slaughtered the beast yourself but then she WAS substantially bonkers. Still: hunting, fishing, foraging is a step further in the right direction.

Sadly, there are no fishable waters where I live, unless you count the angling competitions in the Grand Union Canal where caught fish goes promptly back into the water, only traumatised for life. Hunting might be a possibility (herds of deer nearby, bold and numerous as anything so probably huntable) but then you have to join all kinds of associations, get all sorts of licenses, get a gun - and be able to shoot, whilst I would probably miss an elephant parked right in front of me. Foraging is all right if you're partial to nettles - forget about wild mushrooms in England, and I live annoyingly far from the coast to hope for any samphire or purslane.

No - the only available for me next step from sourdough and pulling potatoes is home curing. Like so many things (jam and sauerkraut for instance) you'd think there's no point in even starting unless you do huge quantities (whole pork belly; whole side of salmon). The truth is, you can happily cure just one sizeable fillet of salmon and I say sizeable purely because you'll want MORE. There's no need for nitrites and I even skipped the sandwiching two filets together - it works dandy just wrapped in cling film and weighed down, see below.

Beetroot doesn't do much for the taste but the colour is to die for. Next - pork belly!

  • INGREDIENTS
  • 1lb fresh salmon fillet, middle cut if possible, skin on
  • 150g (2 medium) raw beetroot
  • 60g fresh horseradish (1 medium root) or ready-made, but preferably not creamed
  • 1 bunch dill, chopped
  • 60g sea salt flakes
  • 45g caster sugar

Beetroot, horseradish, salmon

METHOD
Rinse the salmon and pat it dry very well with paper towels.

Peel the beetroot and horseradish (gloves needed!). Grate both finely in the food processor. WARNING: the horseradish fumes are really deadly, don’t try grating by hand unless with a gas mask on!

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Line a dish just large enough to fit the salmon in with cling film, leaving some lengths to overhang on both sides. Scatter some of the curing mix at the bottom, then place the salmon onto it, skin down. Scatter the remaining mix over the fillet, making sure the thicker parts are covered with a thicker layer. Wrap the cling film around the salmon, press it down with another pan or a small tray and weigh it down with (full) tins or jars.

Salmon in the curing mix
Refrigerate for 3 days.

Carefully scrape off the beet mixture, rinse briefly if necessary. Remove the skin if you wish, rewrap the fillet and keep in the fridge for another day to dry it out, or slice on the diagonal and serve immediately if you can’t wait.


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