This recipe is a variation of gravad lox (also known as gravlax) – a Scandanavian method of curing that uses salt, sugar, peppercorns and dill. It is not the same thing as the smoked salmon you find in the grocery store or served on a bagel with cream cheese (otherwise known as nova smoked salmon).
I love this particular variation because it gives the salmon a sweet flavor and the orange is a nice way to add citrus without using traditional lemon. I highly recommend this to anybody who likes sushi since the flavor remains fresh and light. It doesn’t taste anything like cooked salmon. It’s really refreshing and quite flavorful. It’s perfect with a side of seaweed salad or a salad of simple greens tossed with a light vinaigrette.
Curing is a process of preserving fish and meat. It requires no cooking and you should use the freshest fish you can get your hands on. You don’t have to use sushi-grade, and that can get pretty expensive, but this isn’t a recipe to try with week-old fish. When buying fish, make sure it doesn’t smell “fishy.” That pungent, salty, murky smell is an indication that fish is getting old. You want the salmon you buy to smell a little sweet. Make this recipe the day that you bring home the fish; don’t let it sit in the fridge for too long.
Orange Cured Salmon
serves 4 as a main dish
2 lbs salmon filet, skin on, cut into 2 approximately equal pieces
3 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp of coarsely crushed black pepper
1 tbsp of grated orange peel
2 tbsp Grand Marnier (or Cointreu)
- Combine the dry ingredients into a rub and divide in half.
- Place one piece of salmon skin side-down in a glass or ceramic container just large enough to fit, rub half of the spice mix over the fish and pour 1 tbsp of Grand Marnier over the rub.
- Cover the second piece of fish with the other half of the rub, then pour the other tbsp of liqueur over it and place it upside-down on the first piece of fish, so that its skin side is facing up. You want to create a type of “fish sandwich” that is uniformly thick.
- Cover the container with plastic wrap and weigh down the salmon with something heavy. We use canned tomatoes, or a glass container filled with beans, or whatever we have handy. Just make sure the salmon is heavily pressed down and put it into the refrigerator.
- Let it sit for 24-48 hours, flipping the “fish sandwich” over every 12 hours or so. Make sure the skin side remains facing out the whole time.
- When ready to serve, scrape all of the rub off and slice thinly. You want to make sure all the rub is gone since it’s very salty.
The two salmon fillets on top of each other in a “fish sandwich.” Make sure to flip over the sandwich every 12 hours so the rub penetrates the fish evenly.
When you’re ready to serve the orange cured salmon, scrape off the rub and slice it into thin pieces.
The salmon will taste light, citrusy, a little sweet, a little salty, and very satisfying.