Category Archives: Fish

Cured “Salmon” (Steelhead Trout) on Cucumber Slices

If I could afford it, I would eat fish every day. I *love* fish. Especially with fluffy white rice and some nice soy or maggi sauce…yum yum yum. Unfortunately I live in the real world, so fresh fish is a treat.

Look at this beauty…it looked really amazing with the bright blue styrofoam, but unfortunately the camera didn’t really capture that pop!

For the party last weekend, I was planning to buy a bit of fresh salmon and cure it, then put slices on cucumbers. I did almost all of that, but instead of salmon, we found great looking steelhead trout for half the price. Steelhead is the same color as salmon and Mike attested to its very similar taste, so I went for it! And I felt like such a classy party hostess presenting these to my guests 🙂

Curing fish might seem a little, well, fishy, but it’s actually a great way to prepare fish without having to worry about it coming out perfectly fork-flaky and whatnot. It’s not “cooked,” but the fish isn’t exactly raw, either, since you’re basically salt-preserving it (killing any microbes). You make a brine, put it on the fish, wrap it in plastic wrap, and leave it in the fridge for a day. Wash, slice, serve, done.

You can really use any citrus for the zest, so if you just have lemons, zest from two of those is fine in place of the grapefruit. And “decoratively peeling” cucumbers is so simple: just run a veggie peeler in four columns so that peeled/unpeeled alternates, and they look beautiful sliced up.

Cured Trout/Salmon on Cucumber Slices
Makes 30 bite-size appetizers

1/2 cup salt
1/4 cup vodka (unflavored only!)
1 Tbsp sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 grapefruit
1 pound trout or salmon, as fresh as possible, boned with skin on
3 cucumbers, peeled decoratively (see above) and sliced 1/4″-1/8″ thick
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp dill

Mix together all ingredients in a small bowl. The texture will be like wet sand. Lay down three layers of plastic wrap on a clean surface, then place fish on it, skin side down. Spread cure mixture on top of fish, then wrap tightly with the plastic. Place on a cookie sheet and leave in the refrigerator for about one day. (It’s not really ideal to do much less or much more time. 18-36 hours is probably the widest possible range.)

Once fish has cured, remove from plastic wrap, wash off the cure with water, and slice into paper-thin pieces by cutting at an angle with the grain of the meat (see above). Place one or two pieces of fish on each cucumber slice. Mix together greek yogurt and lemon juice, then drop a small dollop on each cucumber/fish piece. Sprinkle with dill and serve.


Salmon, Avocado, and Grapefruit Verrines (Savory Parfaits)

I can see how canned fish gets a bad rap. Tuna straight from the can just doesn’t do it for me–and until recently I thought the only cure was adding mayo, salt, and pepper. Canned mackerel tends to hang out on our shelves for a while, and I’ve never even seen an open can of sardines.

Enter canned salmon. I started eating it about two weeks ago after I learned a few things: it’s wild-caught, which is better for us and better for the environment. It’s also cheap, for salmon, and delicious! (I could go on about the nutritional benefits, too.)

Your first foray into eating canned salmon definitely takes some courage. The skin and bones are usually in the can, so the squeamish may struggle. It turns out that the canning process softens the bones enough that they’re safe to eat straight out of the can, and they offer a great source of calcium. Just close your eyes, pretend they aren’t there and stir up as usual. Eventually you’ll feel like a pro when you toss the spines in without a thought.

This recipe is adapted from one I found in the Boston Globe’s online archives. A “verrine” is essentially a layered sweet or savory dish in a small glass, sort of like a parfait. Apparently I am waay behind the verrine trend–but I’m pretty sure I’m about to start this trend in my own kitchen!

The original recipe is for Crab and Avocado Verrines, but I wanted to incorporate canned salmon. I also went a little heavier on the flavor components–the lime juice, the salt, the pepper.

I find if you add your spices in layers and taste as you go, you’ll always use more than a typical recipe calls for. Thanks go to my roommate/former professional cook/resident Southerner/best friend Mike (who should be introduced by now), who taught me that food is actually…wait for it…supposed to taste GREAT, ALL the time! I used to think the things I made were bland because I made them at home, but it turns out I just needed more salt and pepper. Get brave with those pinching fingers!

See the picture of the avocado above? That’s what it should look like when you dice it–just cut carefully while holding the avocado half in one hand, then use a spoon to scoop the pieces into the bowl and voila! Easiest method ever.

Finally, the original recipe used these ingredient amounts to make four appetizers. I used larger glasses than technical “verrines” (usually small juice glasses), so I only made two servings and ate them as smallish meals.

Salmon, Avocado, and Grapefruit Verrines
Adapted from Beatrice Peltre’s Crab and Avocado Verrine

*I also just discovered via Google that Beatrice is also La Tartine Gourmand. Her blog is full of beautiful photos and fantastic recipes (including a different verrine from two weeks ago). Check it out!

1 grapefruit
1 medium avocado
2 scallions, chopped (reserve 1 Tbsp white ends)
Grated rind, fresh juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp olive oil
7 oz. canned salmon (half of a standard can)
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, plus some for garnish

1. Supreme the grapefruit. [These are good directions if you’ve never done it before: How to Supreme (Segment) an Orange.]

2. Split the avocado in half and remove the pit. Dice the flesh and drop into a medium-sized bowl. Add the scallions, lime rind, 2 Tbsp of the olive oil, and salt and pepper. Lightly toss. Be sure to taste while adding your salt and pepper.

3. In another medium-sized bowl, combine the salmon, lime juice, ginger, chopped cilantro, the white ends of the scallions, 1 Tbsp of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

4. Use half of the salmon mix to fill the bottom layer of the glasses (so you should have half left after making this layer). Repeat with the avocado mix, then the rest of the salmon, and finally the rest of the avocado. Top with slices of grapefruit and garnish with cilantro. You can eat immediately, but it’s best refrigerated for at least an hour.