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Home-Cured Salmon with Black Pepper and Coriander

When we catered the VIP suite at SalonCon in September, we tried to think of a fun and interesting way to make sure people got some protein in their diets during the day. Conferences and conventions are notorious for people taking poor care of themselves, and failing to eat real food or get enough sleep. We wanted to do our part to help solve that problem this time.

After leafing through Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie again, we decided to play with his cured salmon recipe, and we eventually made a few different flavors to provide to the VIP suite. After some experimentation, our favorite was still one that Ruhlman suggested in the book – black pepper and coriander.

We eventually served it as a one bite course at the restaurant as well, with with fresh cucumber and dill on top of a pine nut tuile.

This home-cured salmon is also a wonderful substitute for lox if thinly sliced rather than cubed. Nothing beats Brooklyn bagels, but the lox you can buy at the store doesn’t come close to beating salmon cured at home and flavored any way you please.

2007: Clementine Sunchoke Puree
2006: Persian Pomegranate Soup (Ash-e Anar)

Home-Cured Salmon with Black Pepper and Coriander
(adapted from Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman)
4 oz (or 125 g) sugar
6 oz (or 180 g) dark brown sugar
6 oz (or 175 g) kosher salt
A 2-3 pound salmon fillet, skin on, bones removed
Freshly ground black pepper and coriander seeds to taste

Find a non-reactive baking dish just large enough to contain your fish, but not too large. You want the brine to cover the fish eventually, so if your dish is too large, you will fail.

Whisk the sugars and salt together.

Spread half the mixture into your dish. Place the fish skin side down on top of the sugar/salt.

Cover the fish with a thick layer of ground black pepper and coriander seeds (about 1 tbsp whole seeds per pound of salmon might be right, but really, do it by eye and to taste).

Spread the rest of the sugar/salt mixture out on top of the fish.

Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and set a pan on top of it, with some weights (about 4-8 pounds) on top of that. Canned good, jars, bricks, or those dumbbells you never use would be perfect.

Refrigerate for about 48 hours, checking halfway through to redistribute the cure if necessary to more evenly cover the salmon. If it still feels too squishy, let it go longer, testing with a finger poke every 12 hours or so until it feels nice and firm.

Once it’s done curing, rinse and pat dry.

You can serve it thinly sliced, though as you can see it also worked well cut into small cubes as if a tartare, served with fresh cucumber and dill on top of a pine nut tuile.

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11 Responses to “Home-Cured Salmon with Black Pepper and Coriander”

  1. Bonnie says:

    Quick question about the instructions, as this sounds like a fabulous gifty.

    When you say “Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and set a pan on top of it, with some weights (about 4-8 pounds) on top of that,” do you mean the plastic wrap gets set on the fish, and the pan+weights pressing down on the fish?



  2. Cat says:

    Oh my god, that was the most amazing con suite. And I adored the salmon.

  3. Foodista says:

    What a great dish! Id love to try this one tonight! I love salmon :) oh and if you have time will you drop by at Foodista ? We are building an online food and cooking encyclopedia ala wikipedia and you can also check out our recipes on the site as well :) Cheers!

  4. brilynn says:

    I love Ruhlman’s book. Homecured salmon is the best!

  5. Elvi says:

    This looks wonderful, and I’d like to try making it. Just would like to clarify – when you say that the fish should be covered in brine, you’re talking about the dry spices only? There is no liquid? thanks!

  6. sara says:

    That does strike me as a tasty appetizer. Nice job. A little different from my usual appetizer recipes.

  7. nick p says:

    Would you recommend leaving the fish raw or do you think it’d still work to bake it?

  8. Danielle says:

    Nick, I’d definitely recommend leaving it raw. Since it’s cured, I fear it’d be too dried out if you baked it.

  9. eric says:

    do you wash off the slat and sugar mix after the fish has cured?

  10. Danielle says:

    Eric, yes, rinse and pat dry.

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