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Home-Cured Salmon Spread & Endives

Home-cured salmon

How is your week going? I’m still recovering from the house-warming party we threw for a cosy group of friends over the weekend. While this wasn’t the first time that we’ve cooked for a big group, it was the first where the grill was absent, and so everything had to be prepared and assembled with clockwork precision. Being the timeline-obsessed person that I am, work started two days ahead for the French Bread to carry a Fava Bean and Pea puree and a bunch of mushrooms for Mushroom Bruschettas, as well as a batch of pâte brisée for the Bacon-laden Quiches that we were going to have. The day before the event, M made his signature Tiramisu and worked his alchemy on two bottles of Argentinian Malbec for our Sangria, while I became intimately familiar with the routine of shelling two pounds of peas and fava beans. Note to self: schedule entertaining television programs for future shelling sessions or have adequate supply of wine by side. Or both.

The day of the party, I caught a glimpse of a baker’s life by getting up bright and early to work on a big tray of Asparagus Galettes with Goat Cheese and Thyme. It was a fun three hours of messing around with flour, butter and water while trying not to be bothered by the many particles of flour that were slowly taking over the counter and the kitchen floor. I’m glad to report that the mess and the early rising time were worth the effort, and I sense that these galettes will be making an appearance on this blog sometime in the future.

Homecured salmon and endives

Galettes and French Breads aside, our menu was fairly simple, consisting mostly of dishes that could be worked on ahead of time, leaving the finishing touches to be completed on the day of the party. One of my favorite go-to recipes for party hors d’oeuvres is this one for smoked or cured salmon paired with cream cheese, walnuts, a squeeze of lemon, all served in the hollow of delicate Endive leaves. The creamy and the slippery counterbalance the crunch of fresh leaves whose bitterness is over-ridden by the savory umaminess of a salted salmon and cream cheese combination. Unbelievable. I have my close friend, J, to thank for introducing me to this wonderful pairing, without which my consumption of these pale yellow, mildly bitter leaves would be virtually non-existent.

Fresh endive leaves

While I traditionally use store-bought smoked salmon, coming across the recipe for cured salmon in The Big Sur Bakery cookbook made the choice between home-made and store-bought a no-brainer. I’ve cured my fair share of cod in the past (wash and dry a filet free of bones, bury in salt, leave in the refrigerator for four to six weeks), so when briefed about the ease of doing so with salmon in the recipe’s preamble, I was sold. After reading this, I hope you’ll be too.

Cured Salmon (Adapted from The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook)

2½ to 3 cups fine sea or table salt
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 salmon filet, 1½ to 2 pounds, skin on and bones removed, washed and patted dry
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, cracked
A bunch of fresh herbs (the book recommends dill, but I used a mix of rosemary and parsley, so this is where you can get creative and throw in whichever herbs, spices and/or liquor catches your fancy)

Stir the sugar and salt together and pour half of the mixture into a container large enough to hold the salmon lying flat. Lay the filet, skinside down, on top of the salt/sugar base and cover with the peppercorns, herbs and the remaining salt/sugar mixture. Ensure that the filet is completely covered in salt and that no flesh is exposed, especially around the edges. Tightly wrap the container in plastic and refrigerate for at least two days.

When you’re ready to use the salmon, check if its done by pressing its thickest spot; it should be firm and not springy. If it is not firm enough, return it to the fridge and let it cure for another day.

To use, rinse the filet under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Slice by cutting strips at an angle with a very sharp knife. Wrapped in plastic, the salmon should keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Home-cured Salmon Spread with Endives
Originally made with a big tub of decadent cream cheese, I’ve found that this spread works equally well with créme fraîche too. Serves 6 to 8 as part of a bigger meal.

11 ounces/ 300 grams cured or smoked salmon
12 ounces/ 340 grams cream cheese or créme fraîche
3 ounces/ 85 grams walnuts, roughly chopped or crushed in a pestle and mortar
Juice of 1 lemon
3 endives, leaves plucked and rinsed
Black pepper
A bunch of chives, finely chopped

Slice the salmon into thin, half-inch strips and mix them up with the walnuts and cream cheese or créme fraîche in a bowl. Add the lemon juice a bit at a time, stirring to break up the cream into a spreadable consistency and to evenly coat each strip of salmon. Season to taste with the pepper and set aside.

When you’re ready to serve, arrange the endive leaves on a plate, scoop about a heaping teaspoonful of the spread onto the middle of each leave and garnish with chives.

Fresh endive leaves

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Felicia - Gosh! That sounds incredibly delicious and the presentation is awesome. Gosh I can just imagine how awesome one of your house parties would be!

El - Congratulations on your house warming. Looks like you made some really lovely treats. I love all the pictures but especially love the second one in particular. Love the contrast of the blue against the endive-gorgeous!

Asha@FSK - Congrats on the housewarming reason! :))))

sooo empathise with the party prep part.. I am all frazzled from 2 days before until the minute of .. haha

I have been meaning to cure salmon at home.. think it’s time to act on it!

Chez Us - Oh, I am even more bummed that we missed this beautiful party. The food looks amazing. I have wanted to try to cure my own salmon for about 20 years now … not even kidding! I probably still have the newspaper clipping with the recipe. You have inspired me – adding this to our test kitchen, immediately!!

Neel | Learn Food Photography - Saw your comments on Matt Wright’s blog. You have an amazing blog here.

Love the salmon photo at the top. Amazingly placed, simple and effective photo. I like spreading spices in my photos too.

Great blog.

alist-20100429 | Gourmeted.com - [...] Home-Cured Salmon Spread & Endives [...]

Danielle - Felicia: We’ll definitely have one (or two) when you guys come and visit!

El: Thanks! Trying to mix up my color scheme by playing around with different backgrounds…glad you like it.

Asha: I am exactly the same, it’s like an adrenaline rush :)

Chez Us: 20 years??? Hope it won’t be that long before we catch up again!

Neel: Thank you so much, hope you’ll stop by again!

Christine @ Fresh Local and Best - Danielle, your blog, photographs and writing style are stunning! The process of curing salmon is much easier than I imagined. I’ll definitely be trying this recipe! Thanks so much!

outsideoslo - That sounds wonderful. I love cured salmon (being Scandinavian, I call it gravlax). I made it last December for a Christmas Eve open house, and it was a hit–I can’t wait to make it again.

If you’re ever looking for a good mustard sauce to go with it, let me know!

Tweets that mention Home-Cured Salmon Spread & Endives « Bon Vivant -- Topsy.com - [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Chez Us. Chez Us said: Someone @istelleinad is making me HUNGRY – http://bonvivant.wordpress.com/2010/04/28/home-cured-salmon-spread-endives/ – beautiful salmon [...]

tricia - Amazing recipes and spectacular photos! Thanks for sharing, I look forward to seeing more and hearing your tweets!
All the best,
Tricia

Dana - There’s something about home curing that unnerves the science student in me, but I keep hearing reviews of how fabulous home cured fish and bacon are. Maybe it’s time to try.

OysterCulture - Sounds like a heck of a party. Hopefully you had plenty of tasty leftovers with which to savor your hard work.

I love making cured salmon and your version looks divine! Will have to make some soon!

Marc @ NoRecipes - Wow beautiful photos! And your lox looks fantastic. I’ve always wanted to try curing my own but have been paranoid about eating raw salmon… Do you use just any salmon or does it have to be sushi grade?

Totchie - Wow your salmon seems to taste so great. I note that lovely recipe to taste it.

Megan Gordon - A) I’m so sad I missed the house-warming party. Next time. It sounds like it was fabulous…
B) I can’t believe I don’t yet own the Big Sur Bakery Cookbook. Seriously-what is wrong with me?
c) The Asparagus Galettes with goat cheese sound incredible. Excited to see those pop up on the blog at some point.
d) We really must plan another get together soon. I’ll try and get my booty into action and plan a dinner in the city soon with some food gals I think you’ll like :)

Hope your weekend was good–it went WAY too fast. But was beautiful here as I’m sure it was there. We’ll talk soon!

Danielle - Wow, thank you everyone for your comments – keep them coming!

Christine: Yup, the process is too easy for words, and after doing it, I find it hard to justify buying a pack from the grocery store.

outsideoslo: Mustard sauce?? Yes please!

Tricia: Thank you and likewise! Love the beautiful things you’re doing with food and art.

OysterCulture: Oh we had leftovers alright….for the rest of the week :) So glad that we’ve finally cleared them.

Marc: I don’t distinguish between sushi-grade or otherwise, but that said, I always buy my salmon (and seafood in general) from a vendor at the local Farmers’ Market, and their fish also happens to be sushi-grade. I suppose if you get your salmon from a trusted and reputable source, you’d be less likely to run into any icky contamination problems. My two cents’….

Totchie: Thank you!

Megan: (A) Pity you missed it, but there will be another one this summer – mark your calendar! (B) That needs to be rectified. Immediately. What about a cookbook swap? (C) Ohhh they were. And yes, they’re preparing for their appearance pretty soon. (D) Can’t wait!!

Squash Blossom & Goat Cheese Galettes « Bon Vivant - [...] riff on the Asparagus Galettes I told you about, this version features delicate Squash Blossoms paired with tangy, herb-infused [...]

Quick & Easy: Endives with Lox & Cream Cheese Spread | Gourmeted.com - [...] got the idea to make this from Danielle’s Home-cured Salmon Spread & Endives. She made home-cured salmon, while I used up some leftover lox. And I didn’t follow the [...]

outsideoslo - Hi Danielle, that mustard sauce I mentioned is actually on my blog. You’ll find it at http://outsideoslo.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/a-new-year/.

Enjoy!

Chez Us » News - [...] Recipe:  Cured Salmon [...]

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