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We handle a lot of Salmon this time of year. What feels like tons. You see, Christmas and cured salmon go hand in hand. Wafer thin slices of the oily, orange fish will be put to work in a huge range of canapés, starters and buffets and are used in every kind of food outlet from fancy fine dining restaurants, to your cosy neighbourhood café. Scottish Salmon gets some strong attention right now, but there’s more than one way to cure this mighty fish.
Gravadlax is probably the most common preparation and can be done within 24 hours – but you don't need me to tell you that. This kind of preservation gives you a lot of options and I know of chefs using beetroot, gin and whisky in the curing process. All work well, but you need to be careful and make sure the integrity and flavour of the salmon still comes through.
One of the best little touches to house-cured salmon is to blend some Christmas tree pine needles with your salt and sugar mix. You get hints of fresh Nordic pine with every bite.
Smoking your Salmon is all well and good, but unless you have the facilities in-house, it’s going to be a bit of a rigmarole to organise. The truth is, most customers are just as happy with a simple cured salmon, and if it’s made in house, as opposed to bought-in smoked Salmon, it kind of has something special about it – the key is to always use the freshest salmon you can get your hands on.
And there’s more than one way to slice a cured salmon too. Thin slices taken on the bias are all well and good, but to savour all the meaty, firm, oily textures of this fish, take finger thick vertical slices. Thick cross-section slices like these are the mark of a pro. Someone who seriously knows his stuff and won't compromise on quality.
But aside from salmon, spare a though for the trout. Trout deserves a little more attention right about now if you ask me. Everyone is quick to jump on Salmon, but cured Trout can be much more interesting, giving a satisfying hint of its freshwater habitat.
And why not cure white fish too. The New York Jewish community know a thing or two about curing white fish, just look at Russ & Daughters, an iconic spot in Manhattan where Sturgeon and Hake are a daily fixture. Mackerel and Monkfish take a cure well and can be cured in the same way as your Salmon and Trout – just salt, and sugar.
What I’m saying is, with all the fuss charcuterie boards get these days, it’s about time kitchens started putting out cured fish boards. Especially considering how quick and easy it is to prepare in the restaurant kitchen. Whether you choose to cure your own or opt for the convenience of our speciality range of smoked Salmon, give your customers something new. Something fresh.