Gone are the days of Costco Smoked Salmon people! Welcome to your new life, where you officially cure your own salmon
What if I told you that curing your own salmon was easier than cooking salmon for dinner? For starters, you can't overcook it and it definitely takes a lot less prep time. Follow a few simple steps and you're on your way to amazing cured salmon. Have any questions? Just pop me an email over on the "About me" page.
1. Start with a fresh piece of salmon - In the best case scenario, you'd start with fish you just purchased from the fish store. You can use frozen, but make sure it was frozen fresh. By that I mean don't use fish that you bought frozen or fish that sat in your fridge for a few days before you froze it. If you do use frozen, defrost it slowly in the fridge, not on the counter. Cured salmon is pretty close to raw fish, so you want to make sure you're working with good, clean product. Once the fish is defrosted, pat it nice and dry with a paper towel before getting to work.
2. Mise en place - Mise en place is a fancy way of saying "get all your stuff together." So here's what you'll need: for every pound of salmon you'll want 1 cup of kosher salt and 1 cup of sugar. You can use brown sugar or white sugar or even a mix of the two, but you absolutely MUST use Kosher Salt. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES USE TABLE SALT OR IODIZED SALT. The grains of table salt are too small and will leave you with a salty mess. Iodized salt will turn the salmon brown. Just use Kosher salt. Ok I'm done being dramatic but you get the point, right?
3. Get jiggy with it - You can add in any flavors you like here. Have fun. I cured my 1 pound salmon in 1 cup tequila, 1 tablespoon of cumin and the zest of a lime. You can use citrus zest or juice, peppercorns, different herbs and spices - whatever your heart desires. For spices, I'd stick to about 1 tablespoon or less per pound. For zests and herbs, you can be a bit more generous.
4. Season - Place the salmon skin side down on a piece of tinfoil large enough to cover the salmon. (When I did this I underestimated the amount of foil I needed the first time around so I just wrapped it tightly in more foil.) Pour the salt, sugar and desired seasonings over the salmon and use your hands to work it in to the top and side of the salmon. Now just wrap it up tightly in the foil.
5. Storage - Perhaps the most difficult part of this process is how you'll store the salmon. Now that you've got the salmon in this little foil pouch, you need to store it in the fridge weighed down. Here's what I did: I placed the foil wrapped salmon into a pyrex baking dish and then stored another pyrex over it. I placed several heavy jars (think tomato sauce or other sauce jars) in the top pyrex which functioned as weights. You don't necessarily need to use pyrex - two baking sheets work just as well. Just make sure you create a level surface above the salmon (baking dish or sheet) and weigh it down with something heavy.
6. Now we wait - You'll want to store your weighted salmon in the fridge for at least 48 hours. Once you hit the 48-hour mark remove it from the fridge and rinse of all the seasonings. The top layer might be a little bit hard, depending on what you've cured it in. I just slice off that top part to reveal a beautifully cured piece of salmon. Slice, serve and enjoy!