Salmon is an omnipresent fish in almost all grocery stores nowadays. Unfortunately, most of it is farmed and and in my opinion it fails to deliver in terms of flavor. Apparently, farmed salmon is also fattier than wild probably because it doesn’t get as much exercise 😉 Here is a comparison chart. Regardless, even farmed, salmon is a pretty healthy protein choice and if you do not mind the difference in flavor, you can usually save some money by buying farmed versus wild. Personally, after a few disappointing farmed salmon purchases, I’ve decided to stick to wild salmon. Unfortunately, wild salmon is seasonal so for most of the year you can only find it in the frozen section. In my quest for frozen wild salmon, a few months ago I stumbled over frozen Copper River salmon fillets at Costco. While I have yet to sample all the different types and sources of wild salmon, for now Copper River salmon is the clear winner in my opinion! Copper River salmon was very hard to come by in the Chicago stores even frozen, so I can’t even describe how excited I was to find FRESH Copper River sockeye salmon at Costco a few weeks ago. Not even the fact that that it came as whole fish instead of fillets dampen my enthusiasm! My guess is that Costco decided to sell it whole because the fish were a little damaged from transport. As a consequence, portions of my fillets were far from smooth looking…oh, well! Coincidentally, I also found the newest issue of Bon Appetit in my mail pile the same weekend which had a spread on salmon, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I decided to use their recipe for cured salmon for the damaged pieces of fillet and the tail ends (part of the tail was cut off so it can fit better in the package, poor decision on Costco’s part). This was my first time curing salmon, and I have to admit I was a little nervous about the result, but given that this salmon literally melts in your mouth when cooked, I was fairly convinced of its superior quality. Since the recipe made it on the blog, I probably don’t have to tell you it was successful and the husband and I have survived eating my at home cured salmon 🙂
Recipe notes: you need two baking dishes that fit into one another to press down the salmon so choose your dishes carefully. I used a mandoline to slice the salad ingredients, but you can also use a very sharp knife.
Ingredients (serves at least 6):
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup chopped fennel fronds
- 2 Tb gin (I used Hendrick’s)
- ~1/2 lb skin on salmon fillets
- fennel and carrot salad: 2 carrots thinly sliced, 1 fennel bulb thinly sliced, 1/2 lemon thinly sliced, 1 – 2 Tb chopped fennel fronds, 2 Tb olive oil, 1 Tb lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste
- yogurt sauce: 1/2 cup greek yogurt, 1 persian cucumber cubed, 1-2 Tb chopped deal
- bread for serving
For the salmon, mix salt, sugar, fennel fronds, and gin in a medium bowl. Spread half the mixture on the bottom of the larger baking dish.
Lay salmon on top and add the remaining curing mixture.
Cover salmon with plastic wrap. Place the second baking dish on top and add some cans to weigh it down.
Refrigerate for 1-2 days, turning occasionally, or until the salmon is pretty firm and darker in color.
Remove salmon, rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
Chill until ready to use.
For the salad, mix the thinly sliced fennel, carrots, lemon slices, and fennel fronds with olive oil and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper and toss until combined. Let sit at room temperature for about half an hour or until the veggies get softer.
For the yogurt sauce, mix all the ingredients in a small bowl, set aside.
When ready to serve, slice the salmon against the grain. Slice bread. Top bread with yogurt sauce, followed by the salmon pieces, and end with some salad. Enjoy 😉
We also had the salmon on bagels with cream cheese instead of yogurt sauce…delicious as well 😉 This turned out to be such a great way of using the not so perfect salmon pieces!