April 12, 2012

Citrus-Cured Salmon

Lately, I've had a serious craving for raw or smoked salmon. And, NO, I'm not pregnant. For weeks, though, I've wanted a toasted bagel with a thick schmear of cream cheese and thin slices of fresh salmon dotted with salty capers. I finally satisfied my craving over spring break last week by curing some salmon for a simple Easter brunch.

I've tried curing a couple things in the past (like wild duck breasts) with no success. It was always too salty in the end. THIS, however, turned out perfectly. It's so easy; you just have to plan ahead.

Any leftovers are a delicious addition to scrambled eggs or pasta. Yum.

Citrus-Cured Salmon

1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon grated grapefruit zest
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon lime zest
One 2- to 3-pound/1- to 1.5-kilogram skin-on salmon fillet, pin bones removed and very thin pieces of flesh trimmed
  • In a small bowl, combine the salt and sugar and stir to distribute the sugar throughout the salt. In another small bowl, combine the citrus zests.
  • On a work surface, lay a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to extend beyond the length of the salmon. Spread a third of the salt mixture in the center of the foil to serve as a bed for the salmon. Place the salmon skin-side down on the salt. Distribute the citrus zest evenly across the salmon. Pour the remaining salt mixture over the salmon. It should be covered. Fold the foil up to contain the salt. Place another sheet of foil over the salmon and crimp the sheets together firmly. The idea is to have a tight package in which the salt mixture is in contact with all surfaces of the salmon.
  • Set the foil package on a baking sheet/tray. Set a pan or dish on top of the salmon and weight it down with a brick or a few cans. This will help press the water out of the salmon as it cures. Refrigerate the salmon for 24 hours.
  • Unwrap the salmon and remove it from the cure, discarding the foil and the cure. Rinse the salmon and pat dry with paper towels. To remove the skin, place the salmon skin-side down on a cutting board. Holding a sharp, thin, flexible knife at about a 30-degree angle, cut between the flesh and the skin. When you can get a grip on the skin, pull it back and forth against the knife to separate it from the flesh. Set the salmon on a rack or on paper towels on a tray and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours, to allow the salt concentration to equalize and to dry the salmon further. Wrap the salmon in parchment/baking paper and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
NOTE: I used a 2-pound salmon fillet. I let the salmon cure for about 20 hours, then let it chill after I washed off the salt for only about 3 hours. The texture and salt concentration was fine.


Anonymous said...

Raw salmon and smoked salmon is some of the best sushi! Well, I've mentioned it now I'll have to have sushi for lunch tomorrow. Thanks! :)

John B

Kimberly said...

I am not a salmon person, but I think my hubby would LOVE this ... and the flavors sound so perfect ... nice recipe, Kelly!

Unknown said...

I too sometimes get a hankerin' for some salmon and no other food will do. This is a gotta try!