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Tuesday 29 July 2014

Simple Cured Salmon

There is nothing I like more than a recipe that:

  1. Is inexpensive,
  2. has simple ingredients you can easily find at the store,
  3. is easy to prepare and
  4. makes everyone think it took you hours to make.

You got it folks – we are talking about that simple crowd pleaser that will have everyone asking how you did it.  The biggest problem with this recipe?  Deciding if you want to give it all away.

But, you know me….I’m going to give it away.  I think good food should be shared and, if you love to entertain, easy inexpensive recipes should be shared even more.

Here is my Simple Cured Salmon recipe.  This makes enough to be a started for a dinner party of 10+, but even if you are having a little get together it is worth it.  It keeps in the refrigerator for about a week and freezes great.  But, you won’t have any left by then – trust me.  I’ve made this a couple of times and everything is gone within 48 hours.  Oh yeah, and it doesn’t hurt that it tastes amazing in scrambled eggs.

Let’s go shopping……

2.5-3 Pounds of Salmon (skin on a plus, but skinless works wonderfully)

11 Tablespoons of Salt (table salt is fine)

11 Tablespoons of Sugar (normal ole’ sugar will do)

3 Tablespoons Mustard Powder

6 Tablespoons of Gin (around 2 small “airplane” sized bottles)

3-4 Cups Fresh Dill (tore roughly by hand, or chopped roughly with a knife)

Now, onto the prep.  Clear out about 5 minutes, as this should take no more than that.

Mix the salt, sugar, mustard powder, and gin together until full incorporated.  It should look like a paste with a yellowish hue.

Then grab your salmon and place it glass dish that can handle the salmon laying completely flat (if you have skin on your salmon, you want your skin side down).  If you salmon is too long, just snip it and fit the extra piece snuggly next to the long piece of salmon.

With the salmon in the dish, smear the salt mixture all over the flesh. I like to use a spatula and work the mixture into the flesh a bit.  Don’t worry if you bruise the flesh, as the next step will take care of all cosmetic worries.

Grab the dill and press it evenly over the flesh of the salmon.

Here’s where you need to take a bit of care.  Quickly, and carefully, flip the salmon over so that the side with the salt mixture is facing down, pressing into the dish.  If anything moves during this flip, simply adjust it with your fingers.

Then, get a piece of plastic wrap (or a few like I do) and cover the salmon, pressing down into the pan around the salmon.  You want a nearly airtight seal (or as close as you can get around it).  Once the salmon is completely covered and secured, place a kitchen towel on top of the plastic wrap.  I like to do this as sometimes the chemical reaction can get…..a….well….messy.  To be extra careful, I would also suggest adding a kitchen towel underneath the pan as well.

Now we have to weigh this sucker down so we can press all of that wonderful mixture into the salmon so the transformation takes place.  You want to find something (or a combination of somethings) that is/are heavy enough to push down on the entire piece of salmon.  I have large rectangular storage containers that I fill with water, they work great.  You can also use jars, cans, bottles or even proper weights.  Up to you.

Once covered and weighted, transfer to the refrigerator and leave for 3 days.  While you may take it out at 2 days….don’t.  It is better after 3 days, even 4 at a push.

At the end of the three day period, take the salmon out of the refrigerator, uncover, remove from the glass dish and flip onto a cutting board or work surface.  Once you brush away/remove the dill, you will see that there is little to no liquid or salt mixture left.  Why?  It’s all in that salmon baby!  It is ok if some of the dill sticks, it will add a bit of cosmetic and flavor pops.

Get a SHARP knife (and I say sharp as it will cut your time in half) and cut into thin strips.  How thin and what shape are up to you.  I usually aim for 2 inches x 1 inch pieces as they fit nicely onto a crusty baguette slice with some of my homemade Smooth Black Garlic Spread.

And that’s you done!  I actually think it took longer to write this recipe than it did to prepare it.  Try it out….take pictures and let me know how it turned out!

About the author

Chris Tompkins is The Social Media Chef and CEO and Founder of Go! Media International - a social media marketing firm. Learn more about him by clicking on the "About" link at the top of this page.


  1. 1099 form says:

    whats your facebook profile?

  2. Aunt Betty says:

    Thanks, Chris, really enjoyed this salmon on New Years. Can’t wait to try it.

    Love ya,
    aunt Betty

  3. Aunt Betty says:

    Loved it whenyou mafe it. Hope I can do it as well.

    Love ya,
    aunt Betty

    • admin says:

      Thanks Aunt Betty! You sure can – if you make it, take a picture and email it over. I’m actually hungry for some as we speak :)

  4. Aunt Betty says:

    Hi Chris,
    Just finished cutting salmon. Not as good as yours, but still good. Didn’t realize I didnt have all I needed until I started. No mustard powder, only mustard seeds,
    And in a very old looking container? Put them into grinder, mustard powder!
    No fresh dill, just dried, oh well. Gin….pouring right into salt n sugar mixture, spilled in a little too much. I think i had too much liquid, not me , the salmon.
    Now black garlic spread….my Giant Eagle does not have black garlic. So agsin we must improvise. Used cream cheese n sour cream, 1/2 c chopped shallots, 2 tlb drained capers, lemon juice, and 2 tlb chopped fresh dill. Not bad, but I liked
    Yours better.
    Love ya, A Betty

  5. Ina says:

    Try this rub combination. Make a lot–it will save time next time you need it.

    Mix together
    1 cup Kosher salt
    1 cup dark brown sugar
    1/4 cup dried dill leaves (not seeds)
    2 TBSP course black pepper

    Process is the same.
    I like to mix capers in t cream cheese, spread on bagels or rye, add salmon slices and red onion slices.


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