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Thursday, May 20, 2010

A cure for salmon

When I waited tables at the Parker House, the ladies loved to order salmon. Pronounced SAL-mon. Well done, please. And could you bring a glass of white zinfandel? Blech. Maybe that experience is why I hate most cooked salmon; it just tastes fishy and gross to me. But I do love smoked salmon. I actually trained myself to like it when I was in my early twenties; I'd just started dating Drew, and his family liked to have smoked salmon, capers, and cream cheese with bagels at brunch. I thought this was the height of elegance, and so I was convinced that truly cultured people liked smoked salmon. I choked down a ton of it, trying to acquire a taste for it. And you know what? I did!

Well, so since I love smoked salmon (and I know Tott does, too), I wanted to make it for her party last Saturday. Unfortunately, I don't know how to work a smoker. I'm sure Drew could make it if he tried (there's not much I think Drew can't do, other than carry a tune), but he had to work most of last week when we were getting ready for Tott's party. So smoked salmon was out, and I didn't know what to do for the third course. Then I came across a Mark Bittman recipe for gravlax--cured salmon, in other words. Well, I figured I could do that. And you know what? I could!

Cured salmon is super easy--you only need a little bit of really fresh, high-quality salmon and time. We served it sliced thin and piled on top of cucumber rounds with a little dollop of some dill-infused sour cream. Sooooo good.

Citrus-Cured Salmon
(modified from The Minimalist Cookbook by Bittman)

1 lb. fresh raw salmon
1/2 cup salt
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons sriacha
zest of one lime, one lemon, one orange, and one grapefruit
1 tablespoon ground coriander

Combine all ingredients but salmon. Lay salmon on a clean sheet of cling wrap. Cover in salt mixtures, piling it all on there. If your salmon fillet has skin on it, pile it all on the opposite side. Wrap tightly in cling wrap (I think I put mine in a baggie). Let it rest 36 hours in the refridgerator. Rinse mixture off and dry. Slice thinly on the bias.

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