To celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes, Dan Drohan (Executive Chef, OTTO) makes a fennel-cured salmon each December.
Cured salmon– better known to many as gravlax– is simple to make. It’s nothing more than salt, sugar and seasoning. The curing process dehydrates the fish, removing the liquid and killing any bacteria that may cause spoilage. For a delicious product, make sure to start with a pink, fatty piece of salmon.
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to cure salmon (or other fat belly fish).
Remember to plan in advance. The curing process requires that the fish be refrigerated for three days, so start soon if you’re hoping to have salmon on Christmas morning!
Combine two parts KOSHER salt, one part sugar, one part fennel pollen, and 1/4 part cracked white pepper.
Coat top and bottom of salmon fillet with the dry cure. add a glug of vodka to coat the fish.
Cover the salmon with fennel fronds then wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap. At OTTO, we use a layer of aluminum foil to make it easier to wrap the parchment.
Cover the salmon to create a level base.
Place weights on the salmon (we use cans of San Marzano tomatoes) and refrigerate for at least three days.
Remove wrapping then rinse the cure off of the salmon.
Lightly pat dry, slice, then serve.