Whichever flavor profile you choose, make sure that the salmon you use is as fresh as possible. Be sure that your fishmonger knows that you intend to eat the fish in an essentially raw state. This is a lightly preserved fish; it is not intended for long storage, so make sure it is as fresh as can be when you start out, for the best possible flavor and safety. (All fish which is sold as “sashimi-grade’ has been frozen to -4° F for at least a week, in order to kill any parasites that may have been present in the fish. Home freezers do not usually reach these extremely cold temperatures, so make sure your fish has been commercially frozen.)
Using tweezers, remove any bones from the fish.
Place the coriander, fennel seeds, and peppercorns in a mortar and pestle and crush them coarsely.
In a small bowl, combine the salt, sugar, and crushed spices.
In a glass baking dish just large enough to hold the fish, place a layer of Douglas Fir boughs.
Scatter about half of the sugar-spice mixture onto the fir boughs.
Place the fillet on top, skin-side down, and layer the remaining sugar-spice mixture over the top.
Arrange the red onions over the fish.
Place the remaining fir boughs atop the onions.
Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the fish, and weight it with another glass baking dish filled with canned goods, fermentation weights, or other heavy objects.
Set the wrapped fish in the refrigerator. As it cures, it will begin to release liquid.
Every 12 hours, turn the fish, basting it with the cure, and taking care to rewrap and weight it after each turn.
Refrigerate the fish for 2-3 days, flipping it every 12 hours. You will see the flesh reddening as the cure works its way through the fish.
While the fish cures, make the mustard sauce by blending all of the ingredients, and seasonings to taste. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator until it is needed, and is best served at room temperature.
When the fish is done curing, remove the fir boughs and onions. If desired, mince a few of the needles and sprinkle them over top of the fish after slicing. (If dill was used, it needs a bit more work to scrape the bulk of it off with a knife.)
Place the salmon, skin-side down, on a cutting board. Slice on a slant across the grain, making thin slices.
Free each piece from the skin as it is sliced, and arrange the slices on a serving board. Keep the fish cool until it is time to serve.
Garnish with lemon slices, rounds of thinly sliced cucumber, fresh red onion slices, and sprigs of dill or fir, and serve with the mustard sauce. Spicy flowers, such as arugula or nasturtium, or brassica flowers, also make a beautiful accompaniment. Perfect on rye crackers or pumpernickel, or this tangy Dill Bread.
Over to You
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