Wind-dried salmon

Wind-dried salmon

By
From
Best Kitchen Basics
Serves
8-10
Photographer
Petrina Tinslay

‘Wind-drying’ salmon is something long associated with the people of northern Canada and Alaska where wild fish are caught, dried and shared. We approximate the wild with farmed fish and our wine cellar. It doesn’t have the romance, but we also don’t have to guard against bear attack. The cool, moderately dry ageing environment allows a slow and deliberate evaporation of moisture from the fish, concentrating flavour, colour and texture.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
2 cleaned salmon fillets, skin on, (around 1 kg each)
80g fine sea salt
45g caster sugar
wood chips for smoking, (hickory for preference)
25g brown sugar

Method

  1. Begin 15 days ahead.
  2. Cover a work surface with plastic wrap and place the salmon fillets, skin side down, next to each other on the wrap.
  3. Combine the salt and sugar and gently rub the mixture on the flesh side of one salmon fillet. Carefully place the second salmon fillet on top of the first, flesh sides together. Press down gently.
  4. Using the plastic wrap, tightly wrap the salmon fillets together. Put them on a large tray to support the fish and place in the refrigerator to cure for 4 days, turning the parcel over daily.
  5. On the fourth day, gently rinse the salt and sugar off each fillet under cold running water. Pat the fish dry with paper towel.
  6. Place the fillets, flesh side up, on a wire rack on a baking tray and place the tray on the top rack of a cold oven. Leave the oven door open.
  7. Cut a piece of foil into a 15 cm square. Mould the foil to form a well and pour in the brown sugar. Put the foil well in the centre of an old ovenproof frying pan and surround it with wood chips. Turn the heat to high and allow the wood chips to catch fire. This will take around 3 minutes.
  8. Once the chips are alight, carefully shake the pan to disperse the chips and allow even burning.
  9. Once all the chips are alight, carefully place another pan of the same size on top of the first pan, to snuff out the flames.
  10. Place the pans inside the oven on the bottom shelf. Remove the top pan and quickly close the oven door, trapping the smoke inside. Leave for 5 minutes or until all the smoke has dissipated. Repeat the smoking process three times.
  11. Once the cured salmon has been smoked, place the fillets back together and tightly wrap them in plastic wrap. Rest for 1 day to allow the smoke to penetrate the fish.
  12. On the following day, carefully and firmly tie the fillets through the tail end with butcher’s string. Hang to dry in a climate-controlled area, at around 17°C, for 10 days.

Note

  • Try kingfish, albacore tuna or mackerel using the same technique.
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