Saturday, May 02, 2009

Holy crap . . . I cured salmon!



I got Michael Ruhlman's and Brian Polcyn's Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing as a Christmas gift, and I've been sort of dipping my toe slowly into the murky waters of the craft of salting and curing meats (as a dyed in the wool barbecue nut, I've had the smoking part down for a while).

About a week ago, I took a crack at curing salmon. I had totally not planned this ahead of time, so I didn't have any fresh fennel on hand, so I skipped Ruhlman's lead recipe (Fennel-Cured Salmon) and went with one of his alternates, a pastrami-style seasoning that includes a lot of black pepper and coriander.

Here's what I did:

Cracked and toasted the spices, then rubbed them along with a bunch of brown and white sugar and kosher salt all over the slab of Salmon:



Then, covered it with Saran Wrap and weighted it down with a hefty can of tomatoes:



Then, into the refrigerator for 48 hours. I turned it a few times and spooned the liquid (which it started to give up pretty quickly) and bits of brine over the fish.

Then, out of the pan, rinsed off all the brine, and wrapped it in waxed paper.
The results were quote remarkable--a rich, chewy texture and great flavors from all the spices. I simply sliced it as thin as I could with sharp, sharp knife and ate it by itself--just a little nibble each day while I was making dinner.

Ruhlman says it will last three weeks in the refrigerator. I don't know: mine was gone in about five days.

I just made a small bit--probably no more than half a pound--since I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out. Next time, I'm going to do a full filet.

Next up, after seeing some tantalizing pictures on Ruhlman's blog, I'm probably going to try my hand at a little duck prosciutto. Ted's Butcherblock always has some great duck breast on hand . . .

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