Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

January 19, 2022

© Caroline West

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Cured salmon

Recipes from a BC chef inspired by the land she loves

Cured salmon is a nice change from smoked salmon. If you’ve never cured fish before you’ll be surprised how easy it is.

There are many ways to cure salmon, but the principles are pretty much the same: bury the fish in seasoned salt and sugar, add a few pounds of weight (compressing salmon in the cure helps to draw out its moisture) and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours. In this recipe, salt is mixed with fennel fronds and fennel seeds, which impart a warm and subtle hint of liquorice. You could also use dill or parsley or a combination of your favourite herbs and spices. Just stay away from strong herbs like rosemary because they’ll overpower the fish.

Serve cured salmon with crackers or dark rye and let guests help themselves to shallots, fresh dill, capers and lemon. Cured salmon will keep for about a week in the refrigerator, but never seems to last that long.

1½ lb. (700 g) fresh salmon fillet, preferably sockeye, skin on
fennel fronds from 1 fennel bulb
2½ c. (625 ml) kosher salt
2½ c. (625 ml) sugar
1 tbsp. (15 ml) fennel seeds, crushed
1 fresh lemon, sliced
2 tbsp. (30 ml) capers, rinsed
1 shallot, thinly sliced
freshly ground black pepper

Coarsely chop the fennel fronds and set aside the bulb for another use. Thinly sliced raw fennel is delicious in salads.

Remove any pin bones from the salmon.

Toss the chopped fennel fronds into a bowl with the salt, sugar and crushed fennel seeds. (The salmon releases plenty of liquid as it cures, so select a container at least 2 inches / 5 cm deep.) Scatter half the curing mixture in an even layer in the container, nestle the salmon on top and cover with the balance of the mixture. Cover the salmon and curing mixture with plastic wrap then place a flat object, like a small plastic cutting board, on top. Weight the board with 2 to 3 cans or other suitable objects weighing about 5 pounds (2.2 kg) in total. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Remove the salmon from the curing mixture and rinse thoroughly in cool water. The salmon’s texture will be firm. Pat completely dry with paper towels.

Using a sharp knife, slice the salmon thinly at a 45-degree angle, holding a corner of the skin to keep it in place. Discard the skin.

Serve with fresh lemon, capers, shallots and freshly ground black pepper. Makes 8 to 10 appetizer-sized servings.

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