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How To Cure Salmon

Season Eleven, Winter/Spring 2010

How To Cure Salmon

This week we are covering an old technique for salt cured salmon.  This is a great technique to learn, because it is easy to do in any kitchen, and you can really have fun with the different flavors that you introduce to the fish this way.  Our recipe has an Asian edge to it, but feel free to play around with your own ideas. 

Cooking Show Video

Port Orford is a small fishing town on Oregon's Southern coast. We spent a day with Aaron Longton fisherman and board president of the Port Orford Ocean Resource Team to learn about how they are working to create sustainable fisheries for their community. Learn more about Port Orford Ocean Resource Team by visiting their website:

February 22, 2010   |   0 comments
Cooking Show Video

This week we learn how to cure salmon.  Curing salmon is an old technique that uses a combination of salt and sugar to cure the fish, layered with other aromatics and spices.  Our recipe has a bit of an Asian edge, but you can do this simply with vodka, dill and coriander if you do so wish.  Typically, you will need 6-8 ounces of salt and about 4-8 ounces of sugar for a 2-3 pound side of salmon.  The more sugar the moister the end result.  The cure here works with time, so if you use less fish, cure it for less time.  1 lb of salmon only requires about a day to cure.

February 18, 2010   |   0 comments

This cured salmon has a lot of different flavors. Do not worry if you do not have all of the ingredients, they are not all necessary. The most important part about this is the salt/sugar cure, the alcohol, lime, and cilantro.

Adjust this cure according to whatever flavors appeal to you:

1 lb salmon fillet, skin on

3 oz kosher salt

3 oz brown sugar

Shot of cachaça or rum

1 cup packed cilantro, roughly chopped

2 T minced ginger

1 T honey

1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

1 T of soy sauce

Dash of sesame oil

Dash of fish sauce

Zest of two limes

Juice of one lime

Combine the salt and the sugar.
Mix together the lime zest, juice, garlic, honey, and soy sauce.
Rinse the salmon and pat it dry.
Scatter a layer of the salt and sugar on the bottom of a dish that will fit the salmon snuggly.
Pour on the cachaça and garlic/lime mixture.
Cover the salmon with another layer of salt and sugar, then with the ginger and cilantro.
Cover with a piece of plastic wrap, then weigh it down with a heavy block and store in the fridge.
Check on it the next day.

This is a fun and easy technique that everyone must learn. Home-cured salmon is an exquisite way to impress your guests. We serve ours with creme fraiche, capers, onion, and lemon juice.
February 18, 2010   |   22 comments
Tags: Appetizers
Food for Thought

For many people cured meats and fish have become a luxury item that is deemed too difficult to do at home. For centuries though these techniques were the realm of the home cook and only in recent times have we forgotten the pleasures of preserving our own food. From meat to fish to pickled vegetables not only do these techniques extend the shelf life of items from when they are at peak season but they also impart many delicious flavors that cannot be made any other way. While not everyone may have the space to cure their own whole legs of prosciutto there are many ways to incorporate time honored preservation techniques into the home cook’s repertoire. Not only will you gain a better appreciation for amazing flavors that can be coaxed out of a few simple ingredients but you’ll be able to impress guests with dishes they thought were only attainable at a restaurant. The following recipe for a simple cured duck breast can be adjusted in a thousand different ways by changing the spices but I think it is the perfect way to showcase what simple salt and time can do for opening up the flavors in a humble piece of meat.

Simple Cured Duck Breast


1 Duck Breast, cleaned and trimmed

Kosher Salt, approximately 1 lb

2 Tbsp Allspice, ground

2 Tbsp Juniper, ground

1 Tbsp Black Pepper

Cheese cloth

1. Combine the salt (enough to cover the duck breast), allspice, juniper, and black pepper in a bowl and set aside.

2. Using a small non reactive container or metal pan lined with plastic wrap that is slightly larger than the duck breast spread approximately half of the salt mixture.

3. Place the duck breast in the pan on top of the salt. Pour the rest of the salt mixture over the duck breast to cover completely. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for approximately 24 hours.

4. After 24 hours remove the duck breast from the salt and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Pat completely dry with paper towels.

5. At this point the duck should be a darker red and firmer but still with some give when pressed with a finger.

6. Cut a piece of cheese cloth big enough to wrap the duck breast in. Place the duck breast in the cheese cloth and wrap, tying the ends with kitchen twine.

7. Tie one end with a long piece of string and hang the duck to dry. Pick cool place with some airflow, 60 – 65 degrees is ideal to hang the duck. Near an open window works quite well for me.

8. Allow to hang and dry for approximately one week. At this point test the duck breast by pressing on in firmly with one finger. It should be firm but not hard with a little give to it. It should not feel mushy. If still a little mushy allow to hang another day or so.

9. When the duck is ready slice thinly and serve on its own or as a part of a nice fall salad. Wrap and refrigerate any leftovers.

By Andrew Gerdes

Andrew Gerdes is a New York-based chef who currently works at New York City's Calhoun School creating delicious,
healthy food from scratch for kids.  He also works as a private chef.

February 24, 2010   |   2 comments