5 Ingredients or Fewer

Beet-Cured Salmon

February 26, 2015
2 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Makes one side of salmon (roughly 1 pound, 10 ounces, since the salmon will lose water weight)
Author Notes

I learned a similar recipe when I was in culinary school. It's fast, easy, and makes for a stunning presentation. —Derek Laughren

What You'll Need
  • one 2-pound side of salmon
  • 1 pound granulated sugar
  • 1 pound kosher salt
  • 3 pounds red beets
  1. Start by cleaning the salmon. Pull out any pin bones using tweezers or needle-nosed pliers and remove any tough cartilage leftover from the fins and belly flap. Carefully cut away any white flesh on the surface of the salmon and skin it. Set the salmon aside.
  2. Cut a piece of cheesecloth large enough to wrap the salmon a couple of times. Mix your sugar and salt in a bowl. Set both aside.
  3. To prepare the beets, cut off the tops and bottoms, then peel them. Using a medium cheese grater, grate the beets. It's best to do this over a sheet tray, newspapers, a flattened cardboard box, or whatever you have handy to avoid staining your counters. Wear gloves to avoid being caught red-handed. Wring or press the beets to remove as much excess juice as possible.
  4. Lay out the prepared cheesecloth over a metal cooling rack placed over a baking tray. Place about half of the grated beets in the center, in the shape of the salmon. Lay about half of the sugar and salt on top of this. Finally, layer the salmon on top of this. Push any excess salt, sugar, and beets up against the sides to make sure the whole bottom and sides of the salmon are covered. Press the remaining sugar and salt over the surface of the salmon. Lay the remaining shredded beets over the top.
  5. Firmly wrap the salmon and its toppings in the cheesecloth, tight enough to keep the seasonings pressed against the flesh, but not so tight that the salmon can't lay flat. Keep the salmon on the wire rack over the sheet tray. Wrap the whole thing tightly in plastic wrap and place it on the lowest shelf in your fridge.
  6. The salmon will need two to three days to cure. Check it daily, draining any fluid that accumulates in the pan. When you're ready to unveil it, cut a small test portion from the tail end to ensure that you have a nice ruby ring around the outside of the salmon and that the flesh tastes salty enough. When you're happy, gently scrape away the beets, salt, and sugar.
  7. To serve it, you can rinse the whole thing gently under cold water, or you can wipe it down with a wet towel. Don't leave the salmon in the cure too long, or it will be too salty, and eventually, tough. When you serve it, shave thin slices off of the salmon and plate it. For a boosted presentation, curl the slices up into rosettes or waves to give the red edges a rippling effect—not that they'll need any dressing up.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Micki Balder
    Micki Balder
  • Derek Laughren
    Derek Laughren
  • Thom
  • Arizona Chef
    Arizona Chef

9 Reviews

Thom October 28, 2015
This came back in a search for vegetarian items. The salmon keeps it from being vegetarian. Can someone take the vegetarian tag off this recipe?
Arizona C. August 23, 2015
Raw beets?
Micki B. May 7, 2015
Does the salmon need to be sushi grade or anything like that?
Derek L. May 7, 2015
Preferably as fresh as possible, but it doesn't need to be anything fancy.
runtothetable May 6, 2015
This looks fantastic. Can't wait to make it. I don't have a scale, any chance you know how many cups are equivalent to a pound of salt and sugar? Thanks!
Derek L. May 7, 2015
That will depend on the grain size of your kosher salt. I measured out Diamond Kosher this morning, and it came to just about three cups. When I measured the sugar, it came out to almost exactly a pint. Hope this helps!
jason May 5, 2015
how long will this keep for in the fridge?
Derek L. May 5, 2015
Technically, it depends on how long you leave it on cure. Curing is a method of preservation. The salt and sugar prevent bacterial growth, so the degree of penetration determines how long it will stay safe to eat. It should last at least a week, no problem. I've eaten it three weeks after curing with this recipe without trouble.
CanadaDan May 8, 2015
Jason, I do my own very similar version of this and FYI it freezes very well. Just let it defrost overnight in the fridge