It started with a MasterChef service challenge. To say I watch a lot of MasterChef Australia would be an understatement. #shamelessplug You should be too because it has been the best series we've had, in my opinion, anywhere in the world.
Anyway, there was a service challenge about two weeks ago which featured a salt and citrus cured salmon and I have not been able to stop thinking about it. It wasn’t dish of the day or anything, but I have been captivated since by this alluring image in my head of one of the contestants carrying a tray filled with a beautiful salt, sugar, citrus and herb mix. I had to do it.
The below recipe is a creative mixture of various online resources and how-to’s with this good ol’ Martha Stewart recipe forming the backbone.
Depending on the size of your fillets, you will need a varying amount of mixture, but it should follow the ratio of 2 parts salt to 1 part sugar. Below is the recipe for about 2 hand-sized skin-on fillets.
Skin-on, boneless Salmon fillets
2 cups salt (I've now tried it with fancy Maldon and semi-fancy Sea salt combo, and the cheapest 60c cooking salt, makes no difference to be honest)
1 cup sugar
Zest of One large lemon (and more to serve)
Zest of One lime
2 tbs of dill tips
Creme Fraiche & Crackers to serve
Add all the ingredients into a bowl. Mix well. When I'm making a big batch I cheat and use a KitchenAid to mix it really really well.
Lay out a long piece of foil on a bench top, pour in 1/3 of your mixture in the middle, spread evenly around the size of your fillets side by side. Dry off your fillet, and lay it skin-side down. Now top it off with the rest of the mixture, burying it deep and surrounding it on all sides. Now wrap your foil packet tight, scrunching up the sides so that everything is squished together.
Put it on a baking sheet and the key is to weigh it down with something else. So I actually use two loaf pans (because they nest in each other), put my salmon in one, lay the other loaf pan on top, and put a bottle of white wine in it.. and in 24 hours you have perfectly cured salmon and a chilled bottle of wine ;)
I've opened it up in 8, 12 and 24 hours. The flavour just gets more intense the longer it's in the mix (duh). To serve, grate some lemon zest into creme fraiche to infuse a bit of citrus into it. Rince the mix off your salmon, dry it off, and slice it however thick or thin you want it. Lay your salmon on a cracker, drizzle it with creme fraiche, and top with lemon zest and dill.