I’m such a sucker for a pretty cookbook. I know you’re not meant to, but I just can’t help judging a book by its cover. When I first saw the Anise-Scented Cured Salmon on the front of Devil of a Cookbook, I knew that this would be one of the first things I’d cook.
Salmon is one of my favourite eating fish and combined with my love of cured meats, I expected great things from this recipe. The only disappointing thing is having to wait 18 hours before tucking into one of the most delicious versions of gravlax you’re likely to come across. I tried not to peek, but I couldn’t resist pushing aside the sugar, salt, and spice coating to see what magic was happening underneath. Clearly, patience is not my strong point.
I purchased a small centre cut fillet of salmon weighing 200 grams and decided to follow the recommended spice measures, but halved the sugar and salt. This meant that the spice flavours would be stronger, but I that’s how I like it.
After considering how I was going to serve the fish, I decided to stick with the tried and true salmon with cream cheese and onion on pumpernickel. Next time, I will follow Fiona Hoskin’s general tip of serving it on blinis with crème fraiche.
I actually cured my salmon for closer to 36 hours as I’d started the curing process Saturday morning, and we didn’t sit down to enjoy it until Sunday evening. I had planned to serve it for lunch, but it was Father’s Day and time got away from us. The recipe does warn that the fish may become tough and dry if left too long, but this was only on the thin edges of the fish, and besides, I kind of liked that chewy texture and considered this the ‘chef’s treat’.
If you enjoy smoked salmon and its texture, consider spending the few minutes it takes to prepare this lovely dish. The flavours are fairly complex with its mix of star anise, fennel and coriander seeds, however I found this to be lovely and exotic, taking it far above the regular smoked salmon that I used to consider a treat.