Monday, March 2, 2009

Ouzo-Cured Salmon

Ouzo-haters, don't turn away!

I made this salmon, recipe originally found here at Kalofagas, for a Meet Up (Eat Up!) at WBUR in conjunction with their Public Radio Kitchen project. The Public Radio Kitchen provides a great aggregation of Boston-area food and restaurant blogs. The Eat Up was the first opportunity (for large a number us) to meet in person. I offered to bring along a large spread of food for the attendees. A few other folks brought treats as well, and in occurrence similar to the miracle of the loaves and fishes, we all got plenty to eat! Some pictures from the event are here.

Here's the full menu of what I provided for the event:
  • Ouzo-Cured Salmon with Carrot Tzatziki
  • Lentil Salad with Roasted Kohlrabi and Caramelized Onions
  • Roasted Beets with Skordalia (Potato-Garlic Sauce)
  • Butternut Squash Baklava (savory, not sweet)
  • Rosemary Foccacia
  • Citrus Salad with Pickled Shallots, Kalamata Olives and Arugula (Sunday's cover shot)
I thought I'd share some of the recipes with you, starting with the salmon. The hardest parts of this dish are finding really high quality salmon (let your fish guy or gal know that you'll be curing it and that you need great quality product) and slicing it thinly enough (sharpen that knife!) when you're ready to serve it. This recipe can scale (no pun intended) up or down, depending on the size of the fillet you're using. The ouzo flavor isn't prominent, it just provides a nice herbal note to the salmon.

Ouzo-Cured Salmon
For appetizer servings, plan on 2 or 3 ounces of salmon per person.
  • Salmon
For every pound of salmon you use:
  • 3 tablespoons ouzo (or vodka - if using vodka and you still want an anise flavor, add 1 tablespoon aniseseed to the cure mixture)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons coarse-ground black pepper
  • zest of one orange
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
Put the salmon, skin-size down, on a large sheet of plastic wrap in a container large enough hold the salmon in one flat layer (The salmon will exude more liquid - make sure the dish you're using has sides high enough to contain any drips: rimmed baking sheet, roasting pan, large Tupperware container, etc.).

Drizzle the salmon with the ouzo. Mix together the remaining ingredients and rub on the flesh. Wrap the plastic around the fillet tightly, trying to keep the liquid inside the plastic. Cover the fish with a cookie sheet, plate or some other flat item (you want to weight the fillet down, so make sure it's entirely covered. Weight down the sheet with a heavy item (a can, bag of flour, cast iron skillet, etc.) . Place the salmon in the refrigerator for one to three days (the flavor gets stronger the longer it cures).

Unwrap the salmon and pat it dry. Using a very sharp knife, slice very thin slices across the fillet. Garnish with citrus (I used kumquats and some dill fronds). Serve with carrot tzatziki.

Carrot Tzatziki
This is a play on the more traditional cucumber tzatziki. To make a cucumber version, substitute 1 cup of shredded, drained cucumber (about half an English cucumber - the one that's wrapped in plastic in the supermarket). This recipe is adapted from The Greek Vegetarian by Diane Kochilas.
  • 2 cups thick Greek-style yogurt (Fage is a good brand. Trader Joe's sells one too)
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
Mix all the ingredients together. Adjust salt to taste. If you need more tartness, add a little more lemon. As the tzatziki sits, the garlic flavor will become more pronounced. For best results, make this the day you intend to serve it.

12 comments:

Peter M said...

This was a wonderful surprise, seeing this come thru my reader! I'm delighted that you tried and enjoyed this. Beyond seeking fresh salmon, the process is very easy and delicious.

Thanks for the link-luv!

Elle said...

What a great menu! Everything sounds fantastic!

Anne said...

Awesome! Anything Peter makes is FABULOUS. Great post!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Looks fantastic! I am so going to have to try this the next time I get my hands on a nice salmon!

ttfn300 said...

ooh, i had no idea this had ouzo in it! it was delicious :)

Sunday Cook said...

Thanks for stopping by Peter, Anne, Elle and Jenn!

If you didn't visit Peter's site on a regular basis, you should change that immediately. His recent "Clean Monday" post is a work of art.

So glad you enjoyed it ttfn300. See everyone? The ouzo doesn't stand out, it's just part of the overall flavor.

Fearless Kitchen said...

Peter's recipes never steer you wrong...

Sunday Cook said...

Not yet! That's for sure. Everything is delicious and very pretty to look at.

ntsc said...

On slicing salmon, you not only want a very sharp blade, you want it to be long, thin and flexible. A chef's knife really wont do.

We have never tried this paticular salmon, but my wife often cures salmon. It is her common dish to 'bring along' if she has time.

I've also smoked salmon, but perfer smoked trout. There is something about serving a guest breakfast of scrambled eggs, toasted home made bread with home made preserves and a trout filet still warm from the smoker.

Sunday Cook said...

Unfortunately, a chef's knife has to do if don't have a long thin slicer, alas. That said, I heartily second your recommendation - folks, the next time you can afford to add a knife to your collection, consider the slicing knife - not glamorous, but exceptionally good at what it does.

Linsey said...

Mary, this was a gorgeous spread! I wish I had come hungry so I could have really dug in...so much yum in such a small space.

I have to say that having a blade for cutting smoked salmon is a great nice-to-have (and I've had one since I started culinary school) but not necessary. As we know, necessity is the mother of invention, and you can get satisfactory results with a long, thin, factory stamped paring knife, believe it or not...

ntsc said...

I can get along with two knives and a steel. And if I had to I probably could manage without the paring knife and would to keep my cleaver, pictured in the first picture here. http://blog.charcuteire.com/2008/10/13/chicken--piece-it-yourself.aspx

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