Ouzo-Cured SalmonJul 27th, 2012 | By Peter Minakis | Category: Appetizer, Charcuturie, Curing, Featured, Fish, Herbs, How To, Meze, Oranges, Ouzo, Recipes
When I speak to friends who attended the Thalassa Supper Club I got varying opinions on who liked what the most. One of the dishes I was very pleased with is an Ouzo-cured salmon I served as part of a trio of appetizers to begin the evening.
You need a fresh as can be salmon, wild-caught if possible and if you’re using farmed salmon I would urge you to freeze it (then thaw) before curing (kills any parasites). In this case the salmon is cured or “cooked” in a combo of sugar, salt, lots of dill or fennel and liquor.
The curing method has its origins in Sweden and the end result is called Gravlax. I love fish, love salmon, love smoked salmon and Gravlax. It was a no-brainer for me to want to play around with this approach to salmon and apply some Greek flavours like Ouzo.
Gravlax literally means “buried salmon” and the name refers to the traditional method of preparation for this food: fresh salmon was heavy salted and buried in dry sand to ferment and cure. Most Gravlax recipes involve sandwiching two fillets together with the dill and salt mixture being in the middle. I cured just one fillet and the result still was excellent.
Here, I’m taking a nontraditional Greek ingredient, a foreign cooking method and applying Greek flavours to it. Ouzo perfumes the aroma of the salmon, sea salt reunites with the flesh of the fish, fennel fronds heightens the flavour of the salmon.
Curing a salmon was remarkably easy. The key to this dish is using only the freshest of fish and trusting that your final result will turn out fine and that your going to slide a piece of salmon in your mouth and savour it’s oily, rich flavour.
(ingredient listing per pound of salmon)
1 lb. fresh salmon fillet, pin-bones removed
2 Tbsp. coarse sea salt
2 Tbsp. sugar 2 tsp. cracked black pepper
1 tsp. Boukovo (red chile flakes)
zest of 1/2 orange or 1 lemon
1 good shot of Ouzo
enough fennel fronds or dill to cover the fish
a heavy weight (cans of tomato /apple juice)
- Although you’ve bought a fillet of salmon, inspect the salmon visually and with your fingers to see if any pin bones were missed by your fish monger. If you find any, you can used needle-nose pliers to remove them.
- Place the salmon on a large piece of plastic wrap (about three to four times the length of the fillet) with the skin side down, pink flesh facing up.
- Put the salt, sugar, and black pepper, zest, chili flakes into a bowl and mix until evenly distributed. Reserve. Pour the shot of Ouzo over the fillet.
- Spoon the mixture onto the exposed salmon flesh, making sure to cover as much of the exposed areas as possible. Place the fennel or dill on top of the salmon. If the dill is too long to fit on top of the fillet, then snap off the stems or fold the dill over. If you have 2 fillets, place the second one flesh side down on top of the dill (making a sandwich of the fillets).
- Wrap the salmon up well and taut with the plastic wrap and place in a vessel. The container is there to catch the juices that will seep out of the salmon during the curing process.
- Place a heavy weight on top of the salmon and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, maximum 4 days (the longer, the better the flavour).
- Unwrap the salmon, remove the fennel or dill and and rinse off the salt mixture and then pat dry with paper towels.
- Use a sharp knife to thinly slice your salmon. Serve it as an open-faced sandwich, as an appetizer or a first course. For the Thalassa Supper Club I served the salmon on cucumber slices, some Greek yogurt with chopped capers, the salmon and topped with a pickled shaved fennel.
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© 2012, Peter Minakis. All rights reserved. If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.