We absolutely love curing our own salmon at Devour and have been doing so pretty much since the very first Devour event way back in 1997.
As summer approaches and we want to be outside as much as possible and not slaving over a hot hot stove – we started thinking of delicious recipes where no heat is required to create something wonderful to eat.
The curing process dehydrates the fish, removing the liquid and killing any bacteria that may cause spoilage. Cured salmon is also known as ‘gravlax’ and originally came from the Nordic area of the world. We have desperate Vikings to thank for the fantastic treat of lox and cream cheese on a bagel.
Gravlax literally means “buried salmon”. And that is how it was made in the hard old days. To store the abundance of summer salmon (or other fish) for a long time without using much salt or other (at that time) expensive preservatives, the fish was wrapped in birch bark and buried in the ground, where a wet, cold environment and a lack of oxygen made it ferment but not rot. Today – we ‘bury’ the salmon in a mixture of herbs, salt, and sugar and leave it to cure for a few days.
There are so many combinations you can use but our favourites are vodka, juniper berries, rosemary, and lemon zest. You could also use a combination of dill and tarragon and Aquavit for a more summery taste. We have also had beautiful success with using beet juice in the cure which turns the salmon a deep fuschia that is stunning on a platter or perfect sliced and placed on a crostini topped with creme fraiche, capers and pickled onion.
While the traditional way to serve gravlax is with hearty rye bread, you could also use the salmon in a salad, in a healthy rice bowl, or as a topping to your avocado toast. So – try it out – and you will quickly see how having some cured salmon on hand will let you have more time to smile in the sunshine! And, with salmon being very high in vitamin D, you will be ‘eating sunshine’ as well. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Don’t be shy. If you try this recipe out – please let us know what you think!
- Place salmon skin side down on a plastic lined sheet pan.
- Pat dry.
- Crush juniper berries and peppercorns (a course grind is fine)
- Place in a small bowl and add salt, sugar, lemon zest, chopped rosemary (or other herbs). Stir to combine. Add ¼ cup of vodka, just enough to moisten the salt mixture.
- Stir and spread evenly over the salmon, pressing it down.
- Wrap up tightly in plastic wrap. Place salmon in a baking dish, and set another slightly smaller baking dish over top, pressing down firmly. Pile up a few cans to weigh it down and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours. 36 hours seems to be ideal.
- Unwrap the salmon and rinse the cure off under cold, running water. Pat dry and slice diagonally into paper-thin slices.
- The longer you cure your salmon, the saltier it will be. So at least 36 hours of curing is idea and no longer than 48 hours.
- The cured salmon keeps up to 5-6 days in the fridge and can be frozen. To freeze, wrap tightly with plastic wrap so no air is in contact (which will discolor it) then place in zip lock bag.
- 2 pound filet salmon (center, thick cut)
- 12 juniper berries (optional)
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- ½ cup salt
- ⅛ cup sugar
- zest from 2 large lemons
- ¼ cup chopped rosemary ( or other herb)
- ¼ Vodka