I’m back in action. All that talk about having plenty of time to dedicate to my blog was a bit of hogwash, pardon the pun. I decided to branch off from the pig and focus on our friends in the ocean. Fennel-Cured Salmon is the recipe that I decided to do next, after discovering Duck Pastrami was a pig-ment (couldn’t resist) of my imagination. Charcuterie actually has a recipe for Duck Prosciutto which sounds great however, would greatly benefit from having a curing chamber on hand which I currently do not have. The plan is to make one however, that is down the road and I didn’t want to lose momentum. I am also thinking about actually making a duck pastrami which wouldn’t really be that difficult.

Until then, salmon is a great fish to cure and is often done with a tremendous amount of variation in flavors. Salmon is especially great to cure given its texture and willingness to receive a myriad of flavors during the curing process. Curing Salmon not only improves the flavor of the fish it also modifies the texture in a way that makes it even more delicious to eat raw or cured or whatever it takes to get you to try it.

I began the process by selecting a nice side of salmon which was easier said then done. I hit Sam’s Club looking for a bargain and struck out there. Next I went to a few other local grocery stores only to be seriously disappointed by the freshness and or quality to which I am 100% dedicated to. So with that said I headed to AJ’s Fine Foods, our local gourmet store and was happy to find some of the most beautiful sides of King Salmon that I have seen in a while ($23.99/lb). After doing the math for approximately 3lbs I quickly decided to grab a slab of fresh Atlantic Salmon for $11.99/lb. All of a sudden the blog has gotten expensive! Haha! The fish monger there happily trimmed a 5lb side down to 2 ½ lbs and I was on my way.

Salmon cures are as endless as the imagination and can range from citrus flavors to pastrami style flavors (black pepper and coriander) to dill as used in a gravlax style cure. The amount of time necessary to cure the Salmon depends upon the thickness of the fillet. If you have a tail piece it won’t be quite as thick as a fillet from the center of the fish therefore taking less time to cure. I chose a nice thick cut more towards the head of the fish. As such I am anticipating about a 72 hour cure time. I tried this recipe once before on a similar cut of fish and found 48 hours to be slightly lacking, mostly evidenced in the texture. The recipe in Charcuterie is a sweeter style cure and as such contains both white and brown sugars in addition to a wonderful French liquor called Pernod. Pernod is a relative to its Greek cousin Ouzo, a licorice or anise flavored liquor.
Pernod is actually a successor of absinthe, the potent liquor that contained a toxic oil from wormwood in quantities that were thought to cause brain damage — and which was outlawed in 1915 in France. One of absinthe’s leading manufacturers, Henri Pernod, then focused its efforts on the lower-alcohol, wormwoodless, anise-flavored Pernod. Enough about Pernod and on with the recipe!

The first thing I did was assemble all of my ingredients;
• 125 grams sugar
• 180 grams light brown sugar
• 175 grams of kosher salt
• A 2.5 lb Salmon fillet (skin-on)
• ¼ cup Pernod
• 1 fennel bulb
• 65 grams fennel seeds (toasted)
• 2 tablespoons ground white pepper

Note the bright yellow color of the Pernod

I combined the sugars, salt and ground white pepper into a container and mixed the thoroughly. Next, I grabbed a Pyrex baking dish barely large enough to accommodate the salmon and sprinkled about a 1/3 of the cure into the bottom of the dish.

I then placed the Salmon fillet into the sugar/salt cure and pressed firmly. I lifted the salmon out and poured about half of the ¼ cup of the Pernod onto the skin side of the Salmon and returned it to the dish. I poured the remaining amount of the Pernod onto the top of the salmon flesh and poured on the remaining 2/3 cup of cure.

I then took the bulb of fennel and sliced it thinly all the way to the top, including the green stalk and leaves and layered them across the top of the cure covered fish.

Next, I took the toasted fennel seeds and sprinkled them over the top.

Lastly, I took a piece of plastic wrap and draped it over the fish and dish. I used a rock that I had found in my dry wash out back for the weight. For all of the germ-a-phobes out there, I thoroughly washed the rock in my dishwasher before wrapping it in aluminum foil. The weight on the fish during the curing process acts as a catalyst, assisting with the removal of water from the fish and the introduction of the fennel cure. As mentioned, I will leave this fish in its cure for about 72 hours (next Sunday). About half way through the process I will remove the salmon from refrigeration to overhaul the cure, move it around to ensure an even cure.
I wanted to note a special brew that I enjoyed during this process that I believe may be hard to find without a Total Wine nearby however, it was way too good not to share. My good buddy EC introduced this beer to my while at a local eatery called Red, White and Brew. This place does a great job, especially their house made pizzas!

Perfect with a slice of lemon

It is called White Rascal and is brewed by Avery Brewing Co. out of Boulder, Colorado. White Rascal is a Belgian Whit or White Beer and is characterized by its coriander spice and Curacao orange peel. I couldn’t imagine a more refreshing beer to combat the triple digit heat of Arizona during the summer. YUM YUM! That’s it for now. I will be back shortly to report a few recipes I followed to enjoy the bacon from my earlier post.

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