One of the oldest preservation methods in existence, cured fish has made a big comeback in recent years. Along with other preserved meats, it’s a muse of chefs and restaurants seemingly everywhere, the carefully preserved creations garnishing everything from charcuterie platters to sliced bagels, salads and even colorful ceviches.
Remarkable as the process is, curing fish is surprisingly simple. And it takes no special equipment and very little active time (actually just a fraction of the time it takes to preserve other meats). This recipe is a riff on classic gravlax, but I substitute fresh chives for the dill and use gin instead of aquavit. Brush a salmon fillet with a light coating of the alcohol, then spread over a simple paste consisting of salt, honey, peppercorns and salt. Cover the fish tightly and leave it in the refrigerator to cure. In about 48 hours, it’s ready to go.
GIN- AND CHIVE-CURED SALMON
15 minutes, plus curing time. Makes about 1 1/2 pounds cured salmon
1/2 cup coarse sea salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons black peppercorns, toasted and cracked
1/2 cup finely chopped chives
1 (1 1/2 pound) salmon fillet, skin on and pin bones removed
3 to 4 tablespoons gin
Make the cure mixture: In a bowl, combine the salt, honey, peppercorns and chives. Set aside
Brush the flesh-side of the salmon fillet generously with gin.
Spread the cure mixture over the top of the salmon, then wrap the fillet tightly with plastic wrap. Place the salmon, skin-side down, in a large baking dish or a large, rimmed, non-reactive baking sheet to catch any juices.
Refrigerate the fillet until it is firm to the touch, about 48 hours (timing will vary depending on the thickness and size of the fillet). Uncover the fillet, rinse and dry off. The cured salmon will keep for up to several days, wrapped in dry parchment and refrigerated.
Note: From Noelle Carter. Adapted from a recipe I created while at the Los Angeles Times.