One of the most amazing things we buy from Athens Locally Grown (our awesome online farmer’s market) is wild-caught Alaskan salmon.
Doug’s Wild Alaska Salmon is not technically local since Alaska is many miles away, but the business is based out of nearby South Carolina–lucky us! So Micah and I pretty much have year-round access to beautiful flash-frozen salmon fillets.
They’ve cooked up beautifully for us many times (though some of you might remember the date-night dinner disaster I detailed in one of my very first posts), but I’ve been itching to try curing and/or smoking one of these pretty pink slabs of fish to see how it would turn out.
I based my cure on Paul Hinrich’s recipe from Salon.com (which, in turn, was adapted from Professional Charcuterie by John Kinsella and David T. Harvey), but I also borrowed inspiration from Traci Des Jardins’ recipe on Chow and versions by Georgia Pellegrini and Doris and Jilly. (I figured the more recipes I read, the more I’d understand how the process works so I could figure it out on my own next time!)
What’s in it:
- one 1-1/2 pound salmon fillet with skin but no bones
- 6 ounces kosher salt
- 3 ounces brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon each black peppercorns, coriander seeds, juniper berries, and caraway seeds, coarsely ground in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle
- In a large glass dish, mix the salt, sugar, and spices.
- Add the salmon and cover it completely with the curing mixture.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24-36 hours or until the thickest part of the salmon is no longer squishy to the touch.
- Rinse off the cure, pat dry the salmon, slice, and store.
(You could also include a smoking step with a DIY cold-smoker like Micah uses for his bacon, but I decided to save that for another time.)
I’ve heard this stuff will keep a few weeks in the refrigerator or a few months in the freezer…but I’ll be surprised if it lasts that long in our house!
And, as if all this delicious fishiness weren’t enough–when I was reading the Chowhound recipe, one commenter suggested frying the skin like bacon.
So, of course, I had to give it a try. We cut the skin into long, skinny strips, coated a skillet with olive oil spray, and cooked the skin up on medium heat until it was nice and crispy.
Add scrambled eggs (tossed with a little goat cheese and Greek yogurt), plus capers, dill, and a pretty little pile of the salmon, and we had ourselves a gourmet brunch!