Summer Dinner Number 2 Or How To Cure Salmon

Summer evenings in the Pacific Northwest are magical. On August 27, we had twenty-five friends over to enjoy one of those nights; and an embarrassing bounty of fruits, vegetables and some amazing local meat.

In addition to summer nights being magical, they’re also unpredictable. You can expect sun and heat in August, right? Wrong. The whole day ahead of the dinner the gray clouds reigned, socking in our little corner of Seattle. By the time dinner started it was in the high 60s. For a moment the portable heater mocked us, until Jeremiah, one of our dinner guests, rescued us by getting it lit.

Despite all this, the party went on, our guests filled every seat (joining us from as far away as London). The food was fabulous. We may have learned one lesson though: provide lighting when serving côte de beouf if your outdoors meal starts at 7, even in August.

As the sun started to settle in the west and the back yard descended into darkness the food began. And the rest was history. We’ve preserved it in this post, along with a cured salmon recipe from the chef, Kevin Smith.

Preparations

Organic Beets & Leeks
Beets and leeks ready to meet the knife.
Carrots
Freshly chopped carrots.
Tomato
Tomato consummé in process.
Beef
Côte de Beouf prepped for the sous vide.

Our Summer Dinner Menu

Cured Salmon

sorrel, corn and beets

Salmon, sorrel, corn, and beets

Tomato Consommé

basil oil

Tomato Consommé

Tagliatelle

butter and parmesan

Homemade pasta

Côte de Beouf

smoked leek, beef neck and onion tart, beef reduction

The Beef

Plum Butter Cake

crème anglaise

Plums from the back yard

How To Cure Salmon

Ingredients

  • 1 whole side of salmon (about 6 lb) skinned and pin bones removed
  • Zest of 2 whole lemons
  • 8 oz salt
  • 8 oz brown sugar
  • 0.5 oz pink peppercorns
  • 2 oz fresh dill roughly chopped
  • 2 oz fresh tarragon roughly chopped
  • 0.2 oz coriander seeds
  • 0.2 oz fennel seeds

Method

  1. Fillet, debone and skin a whole salmon. You can also let your fishmonger do the hard work and buy a side of salmon that is already prepared.
  2. Combine all the ingredients, except for the side of salmon, together in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. This will be the curing mixture.
  3. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on a work surface. Make sure it is longer than the side of salmon.
  4. Add half of the curing mixture to the plastic wrap so that it is evenly distributed (about ½ inch thick). Make sure to leave a gap around the plastic wrap edge of about 2 inches. Otherwise the salt will fall out when you wrap the salmon.
  5. Lay the side of salmon in the center of the curing mixture.
  6. Add the remaining curing mixture.
  7. Add another sheet of plastic wrap on top of the salmon. Start to encase the salmon in the plastic wrap. Wrap it at least 4 times.
  8. Place the salmon on a wire rack resting on a sheet pan and add to the refrigerator.
  9. Leave the salmon to cure for 3 days. Turn over a couple of times.
  10. Remove the salmon from the plastic wrap, rinse thoroughly under cold water to remove all the excess curing mixture.
  11. Slice and serve.

Tips And Tricks

Here are a few simple rules and suggestions for curing salmon.

  • Make sure there is enough curing mixture to to completely cover the fish before wrapping it.
  • A 1-inch thick piece of salmon will be fully cured in 18 hours. This works well if you are doing smaller pieces of salmon.
  • The salt and sugar ratio can be changed for various different finishes, more sugar for a sweeter salmon.
  • Try different types of herb and spice mixtures. Add ginger, lemongrass, garlic, lime zest, fresh red chili and cilantro for a cured Thai salmon. There are limitless combinations.
  • Swap the brown sugar for caster sugar or any sugar you like.