Curing is one of the oldest methods for preserving foodstuffs, involving the use of salt to prolong the life of meat, fish or vegetables. The technique is used in Brazil to make the famous ‘carne seca’ (dried or ‘jerk’ style meat and perhaps most famously in Portugal to make our wonderful salt cod or ‘bacalhau’. There are several slightly different curing methods but they all use salt.
My method is to use cachaça (Brazilian rum – see more here) and sugar, with the finished salmon being closest in style to gravadlax. Gravadlax is the Scandinavian name given to salmon which has been cured in sugar and salt and then served with dill. It is very easy to prepare and gives great results, but you will need to allow 48 hours. This is a lovely recipe, especially so if you have some gravadlax ready prepared in the fridge, as it can be easily sliced into small strips and served as a little snack on toast, for example, or in a salad or sandwich, or even enjoyed by itself with a glass of dry white wine (see wine suggestions below).
The more salt you decide to use, the drier will be the resulting salmon. I like to use just enough to complete the curing, but still leaving the centre part of the fish semi-raw. In my recipe I always add some additional, non-Scandinavian ingredients, as I’ve made it thousands of times before and I think I’ve finally found what best brings out the flavours of the salmon!
The quality of the salmon itself is of course very important. You should always use freshly filleted fish and, ideally, a fish caught in the wild. The taste is completely different from farmed salmon.
1kg of fillet of salmon, evenly prepared, with bones removed and skin on
150ml cachaca (Brazilian rum)
100ml soy sauce
5 grated beetroots
4 tablespoons of fennel sedes
1 bunch of dill leaves
Rub the salt and sugar over the whole salmon. Put all the other ingredients in a bowl and mix. Add the grated beetroot and chopped dill.
Put these ingredients into a food bag and wrap around the salmon. Close the bag and, with the salmon inside, place on a baking tray with skin side facing down, and leave in the fridge for 12 hours. Remove, turn salmon over and leave on the other side for a further 12 hours. Take out of fridge. Using a kitchen towel, remove any excess from the surface, leaving the fish as dry as possible. Place the salmon on a wire mesh grill with a tray underneath, so that any remaining liquid can safely drain out. Leave uncovered in the fridge for a further 24 hours.
Then remove, place on a wooden board and slice thinly. Serve with a little dill and/or strong flavoured root vegetables. And, of course, if you still have any gravadlax left over in the fridge you can always take it out and surprise your guests with a fantastic appetiser! The best thing about this recipe is that you’ve done the curing yourself and can be sure to impress your friends.
Wine Pairing Suggestions
Choosing a wine which works with salmon – however it may be cooked – can be tricky. Luciana’s recipe is full of flavour, so we would say go with a fruity, rich or buttery style of white, perhaps a lightly oaked chardonnay (see our Don Guerino Reserva Chardonnay or Pizzato Legno Chardonnay) or a Viognier. Alternatively, a full bodied rosé or even a light Pinot Noir would both work well.
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