It is so easy to cure your own salmon at home and it looks really impressive on homemade blinis as a festive canapé.
For the Salmon
- 250-300g (8-10 oz) Salmon Fillet (preferably the tail)
- 70g (2.5 oz) Rock Salt (the type you use to fill up your salt grinder)
- 60g (2 oz) Golden Caster (Granulated) Sugar
- 25ml (1 1/2 tbsp) Gin
- Large Handful Fresh Dill
- 6 Dried Juniper Berries
- 12 Whole Black Peppercorns
- Zest of 1/2 Lemon
For the Bilini Pancakes
- 100g (3.5 oz) Plain (All Purpose) Flour
- 1 Large Egg
- 150ml (10 tbsp) Milk
- Freshly Ground Sea Salt & Black Pepper
For the Salmon Bilinis
- Fresh Dill
- Crème Fraîche (Neal’s Yard if you live in London)
- Roughly chop the dill for the cure. Toast the juniper berries and black peppercorns over a high heat in a small saucepan until the oil starts to make the juniper berries shiny. Remove them and crush them slightly in a mortar and pestle (I swear by this one), or using the side of a large knife. Mix the dill, pepper and juniper together with the sugar, salt, lemon zest and gin.
- Using kitchen towel, pat try the salmon the best you can and lay out (skin side down) on a double layer of cling film (food wrap). Spoon the cure mixture over the salmon, covering all the exposed pink flesh up the best as possible.
- Fold the film in over the salmon as tight as you can, trying to leave as little air inside as possible. Wrap the salmon three more times to try and prevent any liquid escaping during curing (though it is not the end of the world if it does – it has happened to me, and while the salmon will be a little drier and saltier, it will still be delicious).
- Place in a dish big enough to have the salmon flat, and weight it down with whatever jars of things you happen to keep in your fridge. Leave for 2-3 days.
- When you’re ready to slice your salmon, unwrap it over the sink and rinse off any excess cure. Pat dry with kitchen towel.
- Using a very sharp knife, carefully slice along the length of the salmon (assuming if it were still part of a large salmon side). With practice, you’ll start getting bigger, thinner slices. Now, lots of salmon, be it smoked or cured you buy removes the brown bit at the bottom. I can’t see anything wrong with it, and I dislike waste, so I include that in my slices too.
- To make the bilini batter, whisk together the flour (seasoned well with salt and pepper), egg yolk and milk until smooth. In another bowl, whisk the egg white until it is stiff. While for a lot of whites I’d recomend an electric mixer, you can easily do one by hand.
- Gradually fold the batter mix into the egg white with a metal spoon.
- In a small, non stick frying pan over a medium to high heat, fry off the mini pancakes, four at a time. If you’re using a non-stick pan, there should be no need for any extra butter or oil in the pan.
- Set these aside to cool before assembling the bilinis, with just a dab of crème fraîche on each one, topped off with a twirl of salmon and a small frond of dill (you can make sure this sticks by pressing it into a little of the crème fraîche already on the bilini.)