A side of cured salmon is super impressive looking, yet it is one of the simplest dishes to prepare. It practically does the work itself, and the homemade version is a lot more affordable than a similar pre-cured piece.
Here's one of my favorite cures. I prefer a more savory flavor, but if you like your food on the sweet side, try using equal parts of salt and sugar. Or add a tablespoon of smoked salt to the mix, for a fun twist. Once you get the hang of it, the variations are limitless! Just make sure your fish is super fresh, and you're ready to go.
Grapefruit-and-Juniper Cured Salmon
Active: 20 MIN; Total: 2-3 DAYS
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar in the raw
Zest of 1 white grapefruit (pink or ruby will also work great)
2 tablespoons cracked whole pink, green and black peppercorns
1 tablespoon crushed juniper berries
2 teaspoons crushed caraway seeds
1 habanero chile pepper, stemmed and thinly sliced
One 1 1/2-pound skin-on salmon or arctic char fillet (1 1/2 inches thick), pin bones removed
1 small bunch dill
In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the fish and the dill; mix well. Set a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Cut a piece of plastic wrap twice as long as the fillet and place it on the rack. Sprinkle the plastic wrap with 1/3 of the cure mix. Place the fish skin side down on the cure mix and sprinkle the top evenly with the remaining mix. Tightly wrap the fillet in the plastic. Taking care not to pierce the fish's flesh, use a cake tester or toothpick to prick holes all over the plastic wrap; this will allow the liquid to drain. Place a second baking sheet on top and weight it down with a few cans of beans or tomatoes. Refrigerate, turning once a day, until the salmon is firm, 2 to 3 days. Brush off the excess cure mix and rinse under cold water. Pat dry and thinly slice. Enjoy on rye toast with crème fraîche or with bagels and cream cheese.
The cured salmon can be refrigerated for up to three days.