GIN AND JUNIPER CURED SALMON
Roast Figs, Sugar Snow
by Diana Henry
Gin And Juniper Cured Salmon With Apple And Fennel Cream
Gravlax is probably the best-known Scandinavian dish. The Swedes have a saying that gravlax should be made in silence, in coolness, and in shadow. The dish certainly seems to encapsulate the spirit of Scandinavian food—it combines the tang of the sea with greenery; the freshness of dill brings a breath of pine forests into the kitchen, and the dish smacks of the natural world and a clean, simple approach to cooking.
Serves at least 10
For The Cured Salmon:
• 3lb 5oz (1.5kg) piece of salmon (preferably organic) in 2 halves, fileted but skin left on
• 1 tbsp chopped fennel fronds (from the heads below)
• 8 tbsp gin
• 1/4 cup coarse sea salt
• 1/3 cup superfine sugar
• 2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
• 3/4 tbsp crushed juniper berries
For The Cream (makes enough for 10-12)
• 2 small heads fennel
• 2 small tart apples
• 1½ cups sour cream
• 2 tsp superfine sugar
• 5 tsp wholegrain mustard
• big squeeze lemon (optional)
1. Run your hand over the salmon flesh to make sure there are no little bones in it. If there are, remove them with tweezers.
2. Spread out a piece of tin foil big enough to wrap around the salmon. Rub gin all over the 2 pieces of salmon and set 1 piece of it on the tin foil skin-side-down. Pour a little more gin over the fleshy side of the salmon, then mix the salt, sugar, pepper, fennel, dill, and juniper berries and press this on top of the salmon. Sprinkle with a little gin. Put the other piece of salmon on top, skin-side-up. Sprinkle a little more gin on top.
3. Fold the tin foil around the salmon to make a package. Set it on a wire rack and put this on a platter or a roasting tray that can catch the liquid as it leaches out of the salmon. Place a weight such as a cutting board on top and put in the fridge. Turn the salmon package from time to time while it is curing. You can leave it for anything from 1-6 days.
4. To make the cream, remove any tough outer leaves from the fennel and trim the ends. Cut the bulb into quarters lengthways and carefully slice the central core out of each piece. Cut the fennel into fine strips, about the length of your index finger. Halve and core the apple (you can peel it, too, if you like) and cut it into strips. Mix the fennel and apple with the sour cream, sugar, and mustard, taste, and add a squeeze of lemon if you wish. Cover and keep in the fridge.
5. Unwrap the package and scrape the salt and sugar off the salmon. Using a very sharp knife, cut the salmon flesh horizontally into thin slices, leaving the skin behind. Serve with the apple and fennel cream and thin slices of buttered rye or pumpernickel bread.