Cast Iron

Whisky-Cured Salmon

October 24, 2017
4 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Serves about 8 people
Author Notes

Growing up in Scotland, the long summer days of my childhood were often spent fishing salmon in the fast-running local rivers with my grandfather. When I was young, we'd cure the fish and serve the it thinly sliced atop crisp green lettuce and cucumbers freshly picked from the garden. Now, I like to serve whisky-cured salmon on a large wooden board with a range of accompaniments: oatcakes, thinly sliced pumpernickel bread, small bowls of assorted homemade pickles, crème fraîche, and lots of lemon wedges.

Whisky and salmon are part of my heritage, of course, but even better is that their flavors pair beautifully as well. The salmon is gently infused with the perfumed juniper berries, the earthiness of the whisky, and the bright herbal notes from the dill. —Valerie Aikman-Smith

What You'll Need
  • 1 two-pound wild salmon filet, boned, skin on
  • 1 cup coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons juniper berries, crushed
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite whisky
  • 2 bunches dill
  1. Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap and set aside.
  2. Rinse the salmon under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. In a bowl, mix together the salt, sugar, peppercorns, and juniper berries. Sprinkle half the salt mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread one bunch of dill on top.
  4. Lay the salmon skin-side down on the dill and drizzle with the whiskey. Cover with the remaining dill, and top with the rest of the salt mixture.
  5. Tightly wrap the salmon with plastic wrap and weigh down with a cast iron pan or tin cans. Refrigerate the salmon for 48 hours, turning the fish over halfway through.
  6. When ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap from the salmon. Using the back of a knife scrape the cure mixture off the fish and lay on a large wooden board. To serve, thinly slice the salmon into diagonal strips leaving the skin behind. The fish can be stored in the fridge for 5 days.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Helena Schaeffer
    Helena Schaeffer
  • FrugalCat
  • valstylist

3 Reviews

Helena S. December 20, 2017
How would you recommend serving this? I know rye is the traditional base, but I've never been a big fan of it.
valstylist December 20, 2017
Hi Helena - If I am being casual I like to serve the salmon thinly sliced on a big board with a baguette and toppings such as sliced red onions, creme fraiche, dill sauce and capers. If I am dressing it up for the holidays I toast mini bagels and top with a couple of slices of the salmon then creme fraiche and caviar. Use any kind of good artisanal bread, seeded crackers or oatcakes. Any left overs go into scrambled eggs the next day.
FrugalCat November 29, 2017
Sounds fantastic. I cure salmon all the time, or as I like to call it-how to turn a $14 piece of salmon into a $40 piece of salmon.