I cannot believe how hard it has been to commit a few hours to getting part two of the fennel cured salmon posted. I looked at the salmon after 72 hours of resting in the glass dish with all of the cure ingredients and felt like it could use another 24 hours. I had made this one time before and actually stuck to the suggested 72 hours and was disappointed by the texture (lack of curing) of the salmon and believe this is probably due to the thickness of the fillet. Note how much of the cure turned into an actual wet brine which is important for a uniform cure throughout the entire fillet.

Salmon resting in fennel cure

After 96 total hours of curing in the fennel brine I carefully removed the entire fillet from the glass dish and placed it on my cutting board. I began by feeling the fillet up and down to see how the texture of the salmon felt. The salmon needs to feel firm to the touch. If it still feels raw or squishy it needs to be returned to the cure for 24 to 48 more hours. After feeling this fillet I could tell that the thinner side was much more firm than the thicker side of the fillet.

Salmon fillet just removed from fennel cure

I decided to cut the fillet in half to remove the fully cured side from the other side. I then returned the thicker fillet to the cure, covered with plastic wrap and put the rock back on top to expedite the curing process.

Thick side not fully cured, thin side fully cured

I then turned my attention to the fully cured side of the fillet and began by washing it clean and clear of the cure as well as any pesky fennel seeds that continue to cling on. After rinsing, I thoroughly dried the clean fillet with paper towels.

Fully cured salmon fillet

Next, I took my sharpest carving knife and started at one end of the fish, skin side up. Once I got it started under the skin I was able to keep the blade slightly angled up while applying pressure from my palm and sliding it down the length of the fillet. A very thin layer of the salmon remained on the skin yielding a beautiful hunk of fennel cured salmon.

Salmon fillet, skin removed

After another 48 hours in the fennel cure I removed the second half of the thicker fillet and performed the same rinse and dry technique prior to removing the skin. See below.

Fully cured thicker salmon fillet, after another 48 hours of curing

I was in a rush and didn’t get a chance to shoot any pictures of the dish I put together however; I did get a shot of the appetizer just before I ate it. I used a loaf of Italian bread and removed all of the crust leaving a rectangular piece of bread. I then toasted each slice just long enough to modify the texture of the bread while careful not to actually brown the bread. After toasting I cut each rectangle into nice equal sized squares. Next, I took the salmon fillet and my sashimi knife and carefully sliced it into thin rectangular pieces. I used Philadelphia Cream Cheese and applied a thin layer to each piece of the toast. I added a couple slices of the cured salmon and pinch of finely diced red onion, a few capers and some finely chopped hardboiled egg. I promise you that this is one blissful bite that is sure to be followed by another, and another and….

Tasty Treats!

I still have a fairly decent sized hunk of the cured salmon and am going to attempt to cold smoke the cured salmon which will essentially transform it from a lox into a Nova-style lox much like smoking turns Corned Beef into Pastrami, (another story for another time). Anyways I will give it a shot and be sure to post the outcome. There is a big challenge with cold smoking in my Bradley smoker in Arizona during the summer. The problem is that cold smoking occurs at 90 degrees or less while hot smoking is basically anything above 100 degrees. The ambient temperature out here in the evening during the summer is consistently in the triple digits. This presents challenges when the desire is to maintain the cured salmon texture, which may change if smoked too hot. Either way the salmon is going to taste great and will definitely not be wasted. Until then…thanks for reading!