Ouzo and Lemon Cured Salmon

  • Salmon in the process of being cured.

    Salmon in the process of being cured. Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post

Posted9/4/2019 6:00 AM

Here, ouzo (anise-flavored liqueur) and lemon zest add a Greek twist to easy-cured salmon, which is nice for hors d'oeuvres and on top of a Sunday bagel.

Serve with pickled vegetables and/or shaved raw fennel.


Make Ahead: The curing fish needs to be refrigerated for at least 2 days, and up to 4 days. The fillet can cure for 2 to 4 days in the refrigerator; we tested it both ways, and preferred the moister, less-salted 2-day version. The cured salmon can be refrigerated for up to 10 days.

One 1-pound piece skinless salmon fillet (belly and fat trimmed, pinbones removed), preferably center-cut

1 cup fine sea salt

1 cup caster or superfine sugar (see note)

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons fennel seed, crushed

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon ouzo

Check to make sure all the pinbones are removed from the fillet; if you find any, use small tweezers to pull them out. Line a small rimmed baking sheet with two layers of plastic wrap.

Combine the salt, sugar, lemon zest, pepper and fennel seed in a medium bowl.

Place the salmon skinned side down and centered on top of the double layer of plastic wrap. Pour the ouzo over the fish, then pack the salt mixture evenly over the bottom, top and sides of the salmon.

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Fold up the doubled plastic wrap to cover tightly, making sure to keep the ouzo from seeping out. Place a cast-iron or other heavy pan on top of the wrapped fish, then seat a 28-ounce can of tomatoes in the skillet. Transfer to the refrigerator to cure for at least 2 days, and up to 4 days.

Discard the plastic wrap and rinse the salt cure off the salmon. Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Wrap in a new piece of plastic wrap and freeze for an hour or two; this will make it easier to slice.

When ready to serve, unwrap and place on a platter. Use a fillet knife or other thin-bladed knife to cut the salmon on the diagonal into thin slices.

Note: If you can't find caster or superfine sugar, pulse granulated sugar in a food processor until it is finely ground.

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