Fennel-Cured Salmon

This post is part of my ongoing charcuterie project. See my original writeup for further background.

It feels a bit wrong to me to cure salmon without smoking it, because I just enjoy smoked salmon that much. This recipe for fennel-cured salmon attempts to showcase the texture and richness of this fatty fish, while enhancing it by adding some additional seasonings of the anise variety.

The spice bill here consisted of a fennel bulb, stems included, toasted fennel seed, Pernod, and black peppercorns. I have no idea why I included garlic powder in this ingredients picture. It wasn’t used. The Pernod was a bit annoying. This is an aniseed-flavored apéritif in the absinth family, minus the wormwood of course. It is yellow and syrupy with a strong anise/licorice profile. I found it at a local liquor store for 25 dollars a bottle, and I will almost certainly not use it again outside of the 1/4 cup I used in this recipe.

The salmon cured for 48 hours in the refrigerator until it firmed up. I’ve cured salmon enough times now to know how much water gets sucked out of this stuff, so I no longer make the mistake of not putting the curing vessel on top of an extra drip pan.

This is the first thing I’ve made that is meant to be eaten without being cooked so there was a bit of apprehension here, but I trust the science. So how did it turn out? It was ok, I guess. Probably my least favorite of what I’ve made so far though. I am a big supporter of black licorice, and of salmon, but this combination just didn’t work for me. The texture was the perfect sushi-grade I was going for. I served it sliced translucently thin on toast points with sour cream. It made for some fun appetizers, but it was honestly a bit difficult for a family of two to get through two pounds of the stuff. The dog may or may not have helped with the last quarter of a pound. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed it. But this is not a problem I have when I make lox.

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