I know I’m always saying that things are easy, but in the case of cured salmon nothing could be more true. Curing is one of the oldest forms of preservation, and doesn’t really require more than a little attention. Which, for me, is all the motivation I need. But if you need more reasons, consider that making cured salmon at home will save you double what you would pay for the fish and ingredients. Plus, for some reason cured meats always taste better when made at home, more than likely because you will be using simple and fresh ingredients and not chemicals that extend shelf life.
First, let’s make the cure. Are you ready to write this down?
2 cups salt
2 cups sugar(brown or white)
…and thats really all! I told you it was easy…I’m probably going to keep reminding you how easy it is. You can add any amount of spices or aromatics to this to perfume the flavor, but this is the basic cure that will take your salmon from floppy to firm. Just a note: you can make any amount of cure you will need as long as you follow the ratio of 1 part salt to 1 part sugar. The only other thing you will need is a tray or plate to hold the salmon while it is curing, and something to give the fish some draining space. I like wire racks, but you could even use a couple layers of aluminum foil with some holes poked in the bottom.
Once you have your draining rig set up. Pull out the specimen (can actually be any fish…or vegetable..or fruit…come to think of it, I’ve even seen it done with egg yolks. Just shows the ease and versatility of this technique). Feel around the meat for any pin bones that may have been left in the fish. If there are any bones, use a clean pair of tweezers, or needle nosed pliers to pull them out. If the salmon (or whatever) has skin, you can leave it on. If not, then thats fine too. Make a bed of cure on your draining rig and rest the fish on it. Now completely cover the fish with the cure, wrap your assembly in plastic wrap and find a spot in the fridge to set it. And you’re done. Told you it was easy. After about 12 hours, you will see a pool of water that has been purged from the salmon at the bottom of your draining rig. This is a good sign, but depending on the size of the fish you’re curing, the time it takes to finish may vary. For small salmon filets, I’ve taken it out the next day and it was perfect. If you are curing a whole side, it may take 3 or 4 days…I said it was easy, not fast. Of course, the longer you leave it in cure, the more moisture it will lose and the firmer the fish will get. Try experimenting with different curing times to find what you like the best. Once you are ready to pull your salmon, you will see that the skin (if yours had skin) has dried and became leathery and the meat has turned a deep orange color and is pleasantly firm. Wash the fish off under cold water to remove the cure and any juices it may have been resting in, and thoroughly pat it dry with paper towels. Congratulations, you now have cured fish. Slice thin and enjoy in whatever way pleases you!
Easy, huh? This is one of the only recipes that I never even bother to write down because there’s really nothing to forget. Plus, considering how good curing your own salmon will taste compared to anything else you will find, It will save you more money than a lizard offering car insurance. I hope you will all start making your own, and let me know how it goes. Did I mention how easy it is?!