Curing your own fish at home may look daunting but it is surprisingly easy to do and great results with interesting flavour combinations can be achieved.
The basic idea is by drawing out moisture from the fish the salt acts as a preservative. It differs from a ‘Cerviche’ method of curing which ‘cooks ‘ the fish by using an acid marinade.
There are two types of cure – wet and dry. A wet cure is a brine or salt solution. This is mainly used for tenderising or imparting flavour into large cuts of meat or fish that are then going to be cooked. A dry cure is basically just salt. It is more traditional and more effective as a preservative. The added sugar creates more complex flavours which are again boosted by the addition of herbs, spices and other ingredients. The possibilities are endless.
Once the fish is cured it can be served in a number of ways from starters through to canapes even sandwiches. Any trimmings left after slicing can be cut into strips and used to garnish scrambled eggs for a luxurious breakfast.
Salmon has natural oils in it making it a most suitable fish for curing. It retains its moisture and will not fall apart.
Alternatives that could be used include – tuna, sea trout, artic char and pictured is a starter that was served in the Fine Dining restaurant at Cheltenham Racecourse.
Vodka cured wye valley salmon, golden beetroot, dark rye
This basic recipe is all about trial and error. More or less of the salt and sugar mixture can be used allowing for a quicker or slower cure respectively. It is possible to cure the fish in 1 hour. The following works and it is best to follow this as a starting point then tweak the sugar/salt quantities and flavour for future recipes.
It is not important whether the fish has been skinned or not. If it has it’s skin on it will keep its shape better. If it has been skinned it will slice more easily. However, it is important that the fish is very fresh and it has had all the pin bones removed.
- 1 Side of salmon (about 900g)
- 170g Good quality salt
- 85g Sugar
- 1 Lemon
- 1 Lime
- Lay the salmon skin side down on a tray that will fit in the fridge lined with a few slices of cling film. Juice the lemon and lime and brush the top of the salmon
- Mix the salt and sugar together and pack on top of the salmon
- Wrap the salmon tightly in the cling film and place in the fridge with some weight on it (baked bean cans on another tray will do)
- Leave the salmon for 1-2 days turning it over regularly. The time here will depend on how far you want to take the cure but it should be a minimum of 12 hours
- Remove from the fridge, wash any salt from the salmon, pat it dry, slice and serve
Ideas for flavour combinations
- Pour a glass of vodka, pimms or whiskey onto the salmon instead of the lemon and lime. Or use some soya sauce.
- Put some toasted and crushed chilli flakes or fennel seeds into the sugar and salt mix.
- Use other fruit juices such as orange or grapefruit.
- Peel and grate raw some beetroot. Mix with the salt and sugar before putting on the fish for some great colour.
- After excess salt has been washed off top the salmon with chopped dill, chervil or other soft green herbs and press again.