In the Kantine Kitchen: Citrus-cured Wild Salmon
While studying in Boston, I earned extra cash by working as a server for Ms. Eiker, a Danish woman who lived in a gorgeous house on Beacon Hill.
Ms. Eiker, a widow for many years, loved to entertain. Every second month, she’d invite neighbors and friends into her home for a garden party, which was, in essence, a happy hour filled with strong cocktails and delicious finger food held in her microscopic, highly landscaped backyard.
It would have been easy for Ms. Eiker to pass off some of the food duties onto me, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), but that never happened. She took great pride in making all the food in advance of the guests’ arrival, so all I had to do was offer it to everyone on shiny silver trays.
The garden party menu changed from time to time, but one offering that always remained was Ms. Eiker’s citrus-cured salmon. An homage to the cuisine of her birth country, the salmon was cured for several days prior to the event with loads of lemon and orange zest, coarse salt, and sugar.
Just before guests arrived, Ms. Eiker would slice the salmon into paper-thin slices and serve them draped over rounds of toasted baguette, topped with crème fraîche and fresh dill. It was a crowd- pleaser every time, and a personal favorite of mine too, when I was able to sneak a bite in the back kitchen.
Back then, I wasn’t aware of the importance of choosing wild salmon over farmed. Now that I know better (and the problem has become even more relevant), I’m relieved to know that the recipe works even better with wild salmon.
I lost contact with Ms. Eiker when I moved from Boston to Copenhagen, and I heard from an old friend that she passed away a few years ago. She had a good and long life, and I am sure that memories of her, her wonderful garden parties, and her signature salmon will be cherished by many.
Makes hors d’oeuvres for 15-20 people or appetizers for 10
For the Cure
- 1 fillet (about 2 pounds) skin-on boneless salmon, preferably wild king
- 2 organic navel oranges
- 3 organic lemons
- 10 ounces kosher salt
- 10 ounces sugar
- 1 baguette
- 10 ounces crème fraîche
- 1 bunch fresh dill, for garnish
Three days prior to serving, place salmon on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, zest oranges and lemons, add salt and sugar, and mix. Spread mixture evenly over fish. Cover with plastic wrap and place another baking sheet on top of salmon. Weight down top sheet with several large cans or a heavy pot. Refrigerate for 3 days, flipping fish halfway through.
After 3 days, make baguette toasts. Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice baguette into ¼-inch rounds and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 8 minutes. Repeat batches until all bread has been toasted. Cool and set aside.
To serve salmon, rinse fillet and pat dry. Place skin-side-down on cutting board and, beginning from the widest corner, slice into thin slices with a very sharp knife, leaving skin behind.
Arrange slices atop toasts. Finish each with a small dollop of crème fraîche and sprig of dill. Serve immediately, and with green salad if serving as a plated appetizer.
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Citrus-cured Wild Salmon was published in the Fall 2017 issue. © 2017 Edible San Francisco. Photo © 2017 Nichole Accettola.