1. Prepare the fish by filleting into two sides with skin on. Remove any pin bones by gently running your finger against the flesh grain and plucking out the pin head bones with tweezers
2. Mix the salt, sugar and lightly crushed juniper berries. Sprinkle some of the mix onto the base of a porcelain or food grade plastic container. Lay the fillets on top, skin side down and pour the gin evenly along the flesh sides.
3. Sprinkle the remaining cure onto the flesh side and rub in. Cover with a layer of cling film and leave in the bottom of the fridge overnight or for 10 hours.
4. After this period of curing the fish will have shrunk by up to 10% in size, the flesh will have darkened but will still have some ‘give’ to the touch. For a firmer texture, cure for longer.
5. Rinse off the salt cure and submerge in cold water for 15 minutes. This stops the fish being too salty. Remove and dry carefully with kitchen towel or clean tea towels. Leave on an open rack in the bottom of the fridge to dry for up to 24 hours during which the surface will develop a slightly sticky outer skin or ‘pellicule’. This will help absorb the smoke during cold smoking.
4. Bring the fish up to room temperature whilst you prepare your smoking compartment and form of cold smoke generation. The ProQ Cold Smoke Generator is ideal for this process, creating a continuous 10 hours of cooled smoke from just a 100g fill with wood smoking dust.
5. Fill your generator with beech dust for subtle smoky flavouring or maple dust for a little stronger smoke. Place the fish in your smoker, hang if you have hooks, and smoke for up to 10 hours depending on the size or how smoky you like the results.
6. Remove the fish from your smoker and allow to settle for a couple of hours to allow the smoke flavour to distribute evenly.
7. Slice thinly, using a diagonal action beginning at the tail end and going with the grain back towards the tail.
8. Serve simply with buttered brown bread or with a rocket, herb and cucumber salsa and soda bread. Delicious with a Gin & Tonic!
There are many variations on this theme and you can use this recipe with a range of different herbs, with or without the gin, for any whole fish fillets. Try adding chopped cooked beetroot to your cure mix for a vivid red halo or concoct your own herb and spice combination. Omit the smoking stage for simply cured salmon.
- 2kg whole salmon – filleted into two sides
- 500g coarse sea salt
- 300g soft brown sugar
- 20g crushed whole juniper berries
- 100ml gin
- beech for a light, subtle flavour