This is a recipe that seems very special but is, in fact, so easy. Anybody can do it because it’s not really cooking in the accepted sense. Curing salmon was practised by Scandinavian fishermen where they’d bury their fish in the sand at the shoreline, allowing the salt to cure and preserve it. Whether they tipped in a little whisky and orange is doubtful but there’s certainly a tradition of using Aquavit and dill. If a bunch of fishermen can do this, so can you.
In the restaurant we serve this as a starter with a little rapeseed oil. However, it could easily be ripped into pieces and used in a salad or, for canapes, sliced thinly and placed on toasted or fried bread rounds with a little cream cheese or straight on to cheese biscuits.
Obviously, it’s worth getting the best salmon you can. Your fishmonger will skin it and remove the pin-bones for you. And as for which whisky to use, well that depends on you. However, I can assure that you all whiskies produce a different effect.
Serves 12 or more depending on whether used as a starter or canapes.
One side fillet of salmon, around 1kg, skinned and pin-boned.
125g flake sea salt
175g caster sugar
The zest and juice of an orange
The traditional way is to pound the salt and sugar together with a mortar and pestle. However, I find it’s just as effective to place the salt and sugar in a food processor along with the whisky and orange juice and zest and process for a few seconds until well combined.
Using a baking dish that’ll take the salmon fillet flat, scatter half the sugar and salt mixture into the dish to cover the bottom, lay the fish on top and scatter the rest of the mixture on top of that.
Cover the dish and place in the fridge for 36 to 48 hours; turning the fillet over halfway through and rubbing the mix into the fish. Make sure it’s still well covered by the mixture for the second half.
When cured, the fish should feel nice and firm. Wash it gently under running cold water and then pat dry with kitchen towel. Wrapped in clingfilm, the fish will keep for at least five days in the fridge