Summer is a time when I’m looking for foods that are satisfying, but light, cool, and refreshing; that often is a run to the local Harris Teeter for sushi–however, one of my favorite special treats is this cured salmon with good fresh homemade bread and a few trimmings like capers, minced sweet onion, thinly sliced cucumbers and radishes, maybe some cream cheese, and last, but certainly not least, champagne. I think that the serves eight is if you’re using it as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre. With trimmings you could have a light meal for three or maybe four, depending on appetite.
Cured Salmon in Molasses
Reference: Pépin, Jacques, Jacques Pepin’s Table. KQED Books,San Francisco, 1991, pp.118-120. ISBN 0-912333-19-7
Servings: 8, preparation time: 3-4 days.
For this recipe I want wild-caught salmon as it has a firmer texture than farm-raised, and a better flavor to stand up to the spices in the cure. Much of the farm-raised salmon is not fat enough to work really well in this recipe. It loses an incredible amount of fluid in the process of curing. The best that I have ever done was wild salmon—King salmon.
- Large salmon fillet (about 1 ½ pounds) preferably center cut, of even thickness, throughout, with the skin left on but all bones removed.
- ¼ cup coarse (kosher style) salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1-teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ cup dark molasses
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- Lightly score the skin of the salmon in a lattice pattern so the salt, sugar, and spices will penetrate through it to cure the flesh. (It is easier to cut through the skin in you hold the blade of the knife perpendicular to the fillet and run the entire length of the blade across the skin, instead of attempting to score it with just the tip of the blade.) Place the salmon in the center of a large piece of plastic wrap.
- In a small bowl, mix together the salt, sugar, cumin , allspice, paprika, nutmeg, and cayenne. Spread the mixture evenly on both sides of the salmon, and wrap the salmon tightly in the plastic wrap. Place in on a tray, and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 12 hours, to cure.
- When ready to proceed, mix the molasses and soy sauce together in a small bowl. Unwrap the salmon, but don’t remove it from the plastic wrap. Pour half of the molasses mixture over the top of the salmon, and spread it evenly over the surface. Then turn the salmon over, and coat the other side with the remainder of the molasses mixture. Re-wrap the salmon in the plastic wrap, place it on the tray, and return it to the refrigerator for 24 hours.
- Unwrap the salmon, and remove it from the marinade. It will have absorbed most of the marinade. Discard any remaining marinade, pat the fish lightly with paper towels, and arrange it on a wire rack over a tray. Refrigerate it for another 24 hours to dry out.
- At serving time, slice the salmon thinly on a slant, and serve two or three slices per person with buttered bread. Garnish the salmon, if desired with chopped, onion, capers, and a drizzle of olive oil.