I am a lucky girl. Today I am featuring a guest post by one of my favorite people, my college friend Adam of Balls and Pie. A while back we were IM-ing about self-imposed meat hiatuses and his brand new stovetop smoker, and I mentioned that one of my future FFwD assignments would involve cured salmon. I showed him Michael Ruhlman’s blog post on Dorie Greenspan’s Salmon and Potatoes in a Jar recipe, one thing led to another… and twelve days ago I received an e-mail with a picture of jars of salmon and potatoes. The rest is history. Thank you, Adam!
There a lot of things in my culinary wheelhouse – most seafood, Cajun and Creole, anything with bacon and garlic, an occasional American or Jewish standard here and there. Outside of that, I’ll give most things a try. And then there’s French food. I don’t know if it’s the dairy, or pastry, or just the presentation, but it generally scares the crap out of me. However, when Adriana offered me a crack at today’s entry, it was pretty easy to get behind. While it may remind some of pickled herring and potatoes, for me, it called back all the fond memories of proper lox and onions I was treated to while visiting my grandparents.
While I tend to improvise a lot in the kitchen, I did my best to follow the recipe to the letter here. I started with a fresh, oversized filet (skin on) of atlantic salmon, and trimmed down to roughly a pound, getting rid of the skin and preserving the thickest part of the filet. Then, I cut into 12 slices, covered liberally in the salt/sugar cure, and got it straight into the fridge for about 15 hrs.
The cured salmon came out pretty much as I’d expected – stiffer and less fragile, but not overly so. I set about layering the rinsed and dried slices into the jar with my diligently apportioned (10 seeds and peppercorns, per!) red onion, carrots, spices, aromatics. Not that you could tell by halfway through the second layer. I got my potatoes boiling, and similarly layered, salted and filled with oil and vinegar. Then everything went back into the fridge for 8 hours. Note: there is an intimidating amount of olive oil in this recipe.
Once I decided I’d waited long enough, I made some melba toast from a marble rye (350 F in the counter top convection oven until very firm), and plated the salmon & potatoes. The results were very pleasing; the cured salmon was not overly briny and had subtly taken up the herbs and spices. The chill and hint of acid made the fingerlings a particular treat. The stiff, almost but not quite snap of the carrots didn’t really work for me with the cured fish, potatoes, and onions – but I’m someone who only prefers carrots raw and alone All in all, a very enjoyable dish that I’ll look forward to revisiting.
A quick note: while everything still tasted great on the second day, it looked pretty sludgy, and I wouldn’t have been comfortable putting it front of guests.