Recipe by Blue Grouse Estate Winery’s owner Paul Brunner, for The BC Wine Lover’s Cookbook by Jennifer Schell, published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Note that the salmon takes three days to cure, so plan accordingly.
Serves about 10 as an appetizer
• 1 (2 lb) skin-on fillet wild BC salmon, de-boned (see note)
• 1 cup sea salt
• 1 cup raw demerara sugar
• 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
• 1 Tbsp black peppercorns, crushed (see note)
• 2 oranges, thinly sliced (see note)
• 1 bunch dill, chopped
• 2 jalapeño peppers, deveined, deseeded and sliced
• 1 bulb fennel, finely chopped
• Chopped dill, to garnish
• Chopped capers, to garnish
You will need two nesting Pyrex dishes for this recipe (the larger just big enough for the fish and the curing ingredients). Line the larger dish with enough plastic wrap to wrap around the fish.
Clean the scales off the fish and give it a good wash and dry. In a bowl, thoroughly mix the salt, sugar, cinnamon and peppercorns.
Lay the fish on top of the plastic wrap in the Pyrex dish, skin side down. Place the oranges on top and add the dill, jalapeño peppers and fennel. This will separate the salt/sugar mixture from the flesh of the fish and keep it from getting too salty.
Cover thoroughly with a generous amount of the salt/sugar mixture. Pull the plastic wrap tightly around the entire fish to seal it. Place the smaller Pyrex dish on top and fill it with around 8 lbs of weights (bags of rice work well).
Move the stack of dishes to the fridge and leave the salmon to cure for 48 hours. Every 12 hours, discard the liquid and flip the fish over.
After 48 hours, remove the plastic wrap and discard the seasoning ingredients, then rinse the fish well to remove any remaining salt. Pat it dry with clean paper towel. Place the fish on a baking sheet, uncovered, and return to the fridge to rest for 24 hours.
When ready to serve, slice into thin pieces with an extra-sharp knife and top with dill and capers. Serve with bagels and cream cheese, or on a platter with crostini. If you are not going to serve immediately, wrap it with plastic wrap and save in the fridge for up to 10 days.
Notes: Make sure the salmon is sushi-grade or has been previously frozen. For the peppercorns, Szechuan or other coloured peppercorns will work as well. If you like, substitute grapefruit for the oranges.
Pair with: Blue Grouse Sparkling Paula. Named for Paul and Cristina’s daughter Paula, this sparkle starts with aromas of pear, biscuit and a bit of earthy mushroom followed by green apple and toast. Well balanced and off-dry, it finishes with elderflower and a lingering lemon-lime citrus.
@ Vitis Magazine