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Fennel-Cured Salmon


Cured Salmon

Cured salmon with bitter greens

Holly A. Heyser
This is a pretty easy recipe, but it does take three days to prepare -- of course, after the first 10 minutes or so, all that time is in the fridge curing. What follows is how I cure salmon: My flavorings I think are delicious, but you can alter them to your taste. What you shouldn't alter is the amount of salt or sugar, which do the actual curing. What do you do with this cured salmon? Slice it as thin as you can and serve it on crusty bread, crackers, blini, or just alone like salami. Once cured, this salmon will last (tightly wrapped) in the fridge for three weeks.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes


  • 1 to 1 1/2 lb block of skinless salmon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup ouzo or other anise-flavored liqueur
  • Chopped tops of a fennel bulb
  • 1/4 cup fennel seeds
  • 2 T. cracked black pepper
  • Zest of a grapefruit
  • Zest of an orange


Find a container just about large enough to hold the salmon, then find a plate or top that is small enough to just fit inside that container. Have on hand some plastic wrap and something heavy, like a large can or jar of something, or a clean brick wrapped in foil.

Mix the salt, sugar, black pepper and fennel seeds.

Mix the chopped fennel fronds and the zest of the citrus.

Lay down a layer of the salt-sugar-spices mix onto the container. Lay down about half of the zest-fennel mixture, then place the salmon down onto it.

Pour the ouzo over the salmon, then cover with the remaining salt, sugar, spices, zest and fennel. Top with plastic wrap and then place the plate or small cover over it all and weigh it down with the heavy can or jar.

Place in the fridge for 3 days -- 2 if the salmon is less than 1 1/2 inches thick. Turn the salmon over each day.

Once it is firm throughout (a really thick piece of king salmon might take 4 days), rinse the salmon off under cold water and pat dry. Slice thin and enjoy! Keep it well-wrapped and the salmon will last 3 weeks or so.

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