Beetroot-Cured Salmon With Chrain And Herb Salad

Every so often you’ll see deals on whole salmon at your local supermarket. If they seem in decent enough condition, they’re well worth the money. You can feed yourself and your family for the best part of a week from 1 salmon. You’ll need to fillet the salmon yourself but it’s a handy thing to be able to do. Ask the person at the fish counter to de-scale the fish though – it’s not really that much fun to do and you’ll be finding fish scales around your kitchen for days after doing it yourself.

Beetroot-Cured Salmon is a variation on the theme of Gravadlax (or Gravlax, or Gravad Lax). It uses rum and beetroot so has a few more interesting flavours going on compared to the traditional recipe.

I serve the salmon with Chrain, a Jewish relish. Make it a few times and you’ll get to know how you like yours. You can make it chunky or more sauce-like. I opted for a smoother finish in this instance.

Then – the salad. You need something that will stand up to the strong flavours of the salmon and the chain. Watercress is ok – a little peppery so that works as a base but what you really need is lovage. If you can get hold of the younger leaves they work perfectly with the salmon. Lovage has a celery-type flavour but is much stronger in taste and has an almost anaesthetic kick to it. On its own it’s almost a little too strong but paired with sweet-cured salmon, the combination is stunning.

For the Beetroot-Cured Salmon

  • 1 large side of salmon
  • 4 or 5 peeled beetroot – grated
  • 100ml dark rum
  • 250g sea salt
  • 250g demerara Sugar
  • 30g juniper berries – smashed up with a pestle & mortar
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon zest
  • A good handful of chopped dill.

Mix all the ingredients (other than the salmon) in a bowl.  Lay the salmon skin-side down and pour the mixture over the top. Wrap the salmon in cling-film and place in a large container (something like a large lasagne dish would do it).

Leave in the fridge for 4 or 5 days. Each day pour away the liquid that will have been released from the fish and leaked out into the container.

Remove the cling-film from the fish and brush off the curing mixture with a paper towel.

Slice the fish reasonably thin and give it a taste. It’s an exciting moment. You’re looking for the colour of the beetroot to penetrate only half way into the flesh giving you that brilliant colour-gradient from beetroot to salmon.

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Make the Chrain

  • 3 or 4 beetroots – boiled until tender
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of horseradish
  • 1 decent glug of olive oil
  • A twist of cider vinegar to taste
  • A pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar to suit your liking.

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a handheld processor.

The salad

  • Watercress
  • Lovage
  • Borage flowers.

No need for a dressing – there’s enough flavour in the leaves.

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By John Loydall

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