“This is one of those dishes that are impressive yet easy to make,” says San Francisco chef Traci Des Jardins. A big hunk of salmon on a platter (with some dill fronds around the sides as garnish) is a beautiful sight. Serve it on toast as canapés, by itself as an appetizer, or in a salad. It takes 24 hours to prepare, but for most of that time the fish is just sitting in the refrigerator.
What to buy: Try to avoid farm-raised salmon from the Atlantic; instead go for Alaskan wild salmon. And see our guide to types of salmon for more on the different varieties of the fish.
Game plan: The salmon will hold up for 4 or 5 days once it’s cured.
You can use our home-cured salmon in any recipe that calls for smoked salmon. Here are a few of our favorites: Heirloom Pea Pancakes with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche, Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches, and Smoked Salmon and Mozzarella Calzone.
The salmon is also great served simply: over a salad, scrambled into eggs with a little sour cream and chives, or topping your favorite schmear. Or try serving it straight up, paired with Marinated Potatoes and Fennel.
- Yield: 12 servings
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 40 mins, plus 24 hours for curing
- Active: 40 mins
- 3 cups kosher salt
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons lightly crushed white peppercorns
- 1 (1- to 2-pound) salmon fillet, skin on (scales removed) and pin bones removed
- 1 bunch dill (including stems), coarsely chopped
- 1 bunch Italian parsley (including stems), coarsely chopped
- Zest of 1 medium lemon
- Place salt, sugar, and peppercorns in a medium bowl and mix until evenly combined. Rub about 1/4 cup of the mixture onto both sides of the salmon.
- Mix together dill, parsley, and lemon zest in a separate bowl until evenly combined. Place half the herb mixture in the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish or other wide, shallow, nonreactive container, then spread 1/2 of the remaining sugar-salt mixture over the herbs. Place the salmon on this, and top with the remainder of the sugar-salt mixture and the herbs.
- Weight the salmon by nesting another glass dish or heavy pan in the first baking dish or container. Place 3 to 4 pounds of weight on top of that (large cans work well) and put the dish in the refrigerator.
- After 10 to 12 hours, remove the dish from the refrigerator and drain off any liquid. Scrape the layer of salt and herbs off the top of the salmon and flip the fish over. Repack the salt and herbs over the top, replace the weights, and store in the fridge for an additional 12 hours.
- When the salmon is finished curing, remove it from the pan, rinse under cold water, and pat dry. Serve thinly sliced with Marinated Potatoes and Fennel or use in your favorite recipe calling for cured or smoked salmon.