Recipe: Gin and Beetroot Cured Salmon
by SoPo Seafood's Jacqueline Clark AKA The Briny Babe - January 9, 2023
We are obsessed with this visually stunning gin and beet cured salmon gravlax, seasoned with some delicious dill and freshly ground spices. This recipe is deceptively easy to make, gorgeous to look at, and delightful to eat. Gravlax is a Nordic fish dish consisting of salmon that is cured using coarse salt, sugar, dill, and a variety of spices.
We cured our salmon with some added gin and beetroot, which imparted a gorgeous magenta hue, and earthy herbaceousness to the salmon. Gravlax bears a slight resemblance to smoked salmon, and thus, we had to give our salmon the brunch board treatment—complete with bagels, chive cream cheese, and crunchy caper berries. Once you see how easy this recipe is to make, and how absolutely delicious it tastes, it is a recipe you will want to make over and over again.
A Note on Cure Times: The most important part of this recipe is a matter of individual preference – the length of time you cure your salmon. The amount of time the salmon cures will dictate how salty, herbaceous, colorful, and firm the salmon will get. Our personal preference is a cure time between 40-48 hours.
Light Cure: 24 Hour Cure: The surface of the salmon will have a slight firmness and pleasant saltiness; the inside of the salmon will be lightly cured and will retain some moisture. Portions of the salmon will be akin to a crudo in both texture and taste.
Medium Cure: 36 – 48 Hour Cure: The surface of the salmon will be fairly firm and not too salty; the inside of the salmon is lightly cured and will still retain some moisture (although it will not be raw). Flavor-wise, the salmon will be flavorful enough to eat the slice plain without having to douse the fish in extra seasonings and condiments.
Hard Cure: 72 Hour Cure: The surface of the salmon will be quite firm like a soft jerky, and well-seasoned. The inside of the salmon will be firmer and meatier. The only reason I do not prefer the hard cure is that it tends to be a bit salty for my palate, and I find myself squeezing citrus onto the surface to add some brightness to the fish.
Cured Salmon Recipe Video
The Salt Preference
Do not, under any circumstances, use table salt or iodized salt for this recipe. Table salt will make the salmon unpleasantly salty. Iodized salt has the potential to react with the curing ingredients and turn the salmon an unattractive shade of brown.
The two best types of salt to use for this recipe are kosher/coarse cooking salt and rock salt. If you are looking for a salmon with a firmer, drier surface (almost akin to a seared scallop or filet). This is because the kosher/coarse salt have finer grains than the rock salt, which allow them to penetrate further into the salmon.
If using kosher/coarse salt, the following is a general guide to cure times:
Medium Cure : 30-36 hours
Hard Cure : 48+ Hours
If using rock salt, the following is a general guide to cure times:
Medium Cure : 36 hours
Hard Cure : 72 Hours
Prep Time:15 minutes
Cure Time: 24-72 hours (Ideal Time: 40-48 hours)
• 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
• 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
• 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
• 1 cup kosher salt
• 1 cup sugar (preferably caster sugar)
• Zest of 1 orange
• 6 oz. Gin (we used Hendrick's)
• 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled, coarsely grated
• 3 raw beetroots, trimmed, skinned, and coarsely grated
• 1.5 lb boneless fillet of salmon, pin bones removed
• 1 small bunch dill, chopped
1. The Cure Mix: Toast all spices (peppercorns, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds) in a dry, small skillet over medium heat, consistently tossing until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let cool, then finely grind with either a mortar and pestle, or spice grinder.
2. Transfer spices to a bowl, and mix in with the salt, sugar, and lemon zest.
3. The Beet Mix: In a separate bowl, mix together the gin, grated beetroot, grated ginger, and chopped dill until it reaches a paste-like consistency.
4. Coating that Salmon: Lay the salmon, skin-side down, on a large piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Pack the spice cure on both sides of the fish, pressing to adhere. Next, pack the gin and beetroot mixture onto both sides of the salmon, also pressing to adhere.
5. Wrapping the Salmon: Bring up both sides of the parchment paper / plastic wrap around the salmon as tightly as possible. I recommend further wrapping the salmon tightly with plastic wrap to ensure the mixture does not drip out. Magenta beet juice is beautiful, but just not all over your fridge. Once tightly wrapped, arrange the fillet, flesh-side up, on a large rimmed baking sheet. Rest a slightly smaller rimmed baking sheet or other flat, rimmed vessel, on top of the salmon. If available, I recommend placing an object that weights 2-3 lbs on top of the smaller baking sheet to further weigh down the salmon.
6. Place the weighted salmon in the refrigerator for 24-72 hours, depending on your preferred cure time. I also flip the salmon every 12 hours to ensure the salmon is evenly cured. Tip: I typically do this recipe with a cure time of 48 hours.
7. The Big Reveal: Carefully unwrap the salmon. Using a butter knife, scrape off the spice and beetroot cured mixtures, and discard.
8. Option: The Rinse: Traditional gravlax recipes will advise that you pat off the remaining spices with a damp paper towel. Many western recipes will advise that you give the salmon a quick rinse to wash off any lingering spices and textures – it's just a matter of preference!
9. Thinly slice, take a bunch of photos of your masterpiece, and serve!
A Few Tips:
Q: How long does gravlax keep?
A: Honestly, it depends on how much you cure the salmon. Here are some easy-to-reference recommendations:
- Lightly-Cured Salmon (24 hour cure): Do not keep beyond 36 hours at most
- Medium-Cured Salmon (36-48 hour cure): Do not keep beyond 72 hours at most
- Hard-Cured Salmon (72 hour cure): Do not keep beyond 5 days at most
Buy Fresh Atlantic Salmon Online
This recipe was created using SoPo Seafood's fresh Atlantic Salmon. Our Salmon can be ordered online for overnight delivery or picked up in our South Portland Maine Fish Market.