Melt-In-Your-Mouth Deliciousness. Right Here.
I was really in the mood for cured salmon. In the past, I’ve cured my own salmon in the tradition of gravlax, but didn’t want the dill flavor this time around and instead played around with adding makrut lime leaves to the cure mix.
Curing salmon is simply a matter of packing it in sugar and salt. The other flavors are up to the cook. But first, let’s discuss why you’d want to cure your own salmon, rather than buying it. Well, the price difference for one thing. You can buy a top notch salmon filet for about a third or less of the price you’d pay for good cured salmon. And I don’t think there’s any comparison in the end result. Plus, you control the flavors.
There are many different thoughts on the amount of salt and sugar needed, but I knew from experience and for or my own personal taste, I lean toward the heavier end. I used plenty of kosher salt and used both white and brown sugars. My son suggested adding lime leaves, so I threw in 20 fresh Makrut lime leaves, along with coriander seeds, black peppercorns, juniper berries, a few bird’s eye chilies, and a little grated fresh galangal. Galangal is similar in appearance to fresh ginger, but has a more pronounced citrus flavor, and tastes a little of pine. I only added a little and it can be omitted without any strong and noticeable change.
I packed the salmon and the cure mix into a 2 gallon ziploc bag, weighed it down with a heavy pot, and put it in the fridge. Now, it was only a matter of time. But how much time? Well, that depends on what you want for the end result of your cured salmon.
I wanted it to be fairly firm and truly silky in texture. You can cure it for only 12 hours or as long as 48 hours. The longer it cures, the more moisture is leached out of the salmon. I knew what I wanted, so I checked it at 12 hour intervals. After the initial 12 hours, my salmon was still fairly soft and didn’t look much different than it did when I started. At 24 hours, it started looking and feeling closer to what I wanted, but was still not completely there.
36 hours ended up being the sweet spot for me. The salmon now felt firm enough to slice thinly and had that beautiful texture I so love in the best cured salmon. It had an almost glassy appearance. I shaved off a slice, rinsed it and tasted it to be sure it was fully flavored and it was exactly what I had in mind.
After rinsing it carefully but thoroughly in cold water, I patted it dry, wrapped it in plastic wrap and put it back in the fridge until I served it a few hours later.
In the meantime, I had mixed up a batch of crème fraîche into which I stirred in minced shallot, finely grated lime zest, salt and pepper. I then chilled it for a few hours in order to let the flavors blend.
I baked a loaf of bread, toasted the slices and layered on the salmon. Then I sprinkled on some gochugaru* (Korean chili flakes) and caper powder. Caper powder* is a brand new ingredient for me. I didn’t even know it existed until I was received it as a gift. It consists of dehydrated capers that are first desalted. It’s then ground to a fine powder and the result is a flavor enhancer extraordinaire. It couldn’t have been more perfect for my salmon. A drizzle of my best extra virgin olive oil and a few micro greens were the perfect finishing touches.
This is the kind of thing I can eat until I’m practically sick. I cannot get enough of this. The makrut lime leaves added their discernible flavor and I can’t imagine making it again without them. They give the salmon a delicate citrus/floral flavor that’s just beautiful. The next time I’m going to grind them up, along with the chilies and spices, rather than keeping these ingredients whole. I think I’ll get an even more pronounced flavor that way, but I’ve got no complaints about his rendition. And I’m so glad I made a couple pounds. I thought I’d have enough to freeze some of it, but nope to that. It’s gonna be gone in a couple of days. We all love it that much.
I really want to make this but I can only find Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. I know that it’s not the same as Morton’s. I even looked into ordering it on Amazon but it’s overpriced and you have to buy more than one box.
I use the salt conversion for cooking, but I don’t know if the same rule applies to curing.
Hi, Celeste! I’d only increase it to 1 3/4 cups of Diamond Crystal. I don’t think you’ll need more than that. By the way, it’s funny what you said about not being able to find Morton’s. Where I live, it is the exact opposite. Diamond Crystal is only available online. None of my grocery stores, including Costco, sell it anymore. So, I order a box online in order to keep it on hand for recipes that specify Diamond. Otherwise, I use Morton’s or fine sea salt most of the time. I try to always specify which salt I’m using in my recipes. It’s annoying when you have to guess. So, I appreciate your question. Please let me know how you like the salmon!