Buried Beetroot Salmon

Amongst a slathering of cream cheese squeezed with some good rye or a spongy bagel, who doesn't like a bit of cured salmon?

This old school way of preserving fish dates back to the middle ages - this is known as gravalax and finds it's origins in Nordic countries such as Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland. The Nordic fisherman used to bury salted and fermented salmon in sand.

However, the actual process of curing fish is known to have begun 3000 BCE, Mesopotamia where salt and sesame oil was used in the process.  As Phoenicians started trading salt, it became commonplace in the Mediterranean so the Greeks and Romans began developing their own methods of curing fish, meat and developing some pickling methods.

The idea of curing salmon imparts and infuses flavour into the fish while under a heavy weight and the salt brings out the moisture - enabling the fish or meat to be preserved for long periods of time.

This recipe is a quick and easy way to prepare fish without using heat or too much effort. The end result is impressive in colour and suprising in texture...

The Recipe

Serves 6 people

The Ingredients

600g salmon, de-boned

10g dill, leaves only

300g sea salt

500g fresh beetroot

100g white wine vinegar

20g dijon mustard

50g white caster sugar

The Method

 Peel and cut beetroot into rough cubes

Blend the beetroot with mustard and white wine vinegar until it makes a nice paste, set aside

Blend the salt, dill and sugar in a spice grinder or this will work in a blender as well

Line a tray with 2 layers of cling film

 Line the cling film with half the amount of beetroot mixture and half the amount of the dill salt mixture

 Place salmon on this mixture and then pour the remainder of the salt and beetroot on top of the salmon

Wrap the salmon firmly with cling film.

Place in a box and place a considerable amount of weight on the salmon. This will squeeze out extra liquid or moisture from the fish which is ideal for the curing process. Try a few kilograms of flour, wooden boards or containers filled with water.

Store the fish like this overnight

 Drain of the excess liquid and wash the salmon well to remove all the salt.

Slice thinly with a very sharp knife

Serve on rye bread with dill, capers, red onions and a good creme fraiche or sour cream