This is a dish with a lot of Wow! factor. But it’s not just about looks – even for a beetroot hater like myself, the beetroot endows the salmon with a sweetness which gives great depth to the salty, fatty salmon. The hot horseradish herby crust cuts the fatty salmon perfectly.
In fact there’s something rather over the top, naughtily generous about the whole thing – it would make a great starter for an intimate Valentine’s Day supper.
But it’s also great served on blini with a little crème fraîche – along with some excellent teeth-chatteringly cold vodka (follow this link for some of the best recommended brands).
NB Allow at least two days to make this.
A rather nice idea, which I got from Nourish at No 44 in Derbyshire, is to serve the salmon with goats’ cheese truffles. These truffles are made of soft goats’ cheese; some of the salmon itself, chopped; and some freshly grated horseradish. These can be rolled in ground liquorice root, fennel flower seeds, or finely chopped fresh chives.
Recipe for shocking hot pink salmon cured in gin and beetroot
For about six
- 2 fresh beetroot
- 1 orange – just the zest
- 2 lemons – again, just the zest – but you could save and serve thinly sliced with the salmon
- 6 tbsps chunky salt (Maldon is a good bet, Himalayan pink would add a certain pink miasma to the whole thing – go here for more information – but you want something chunky and textured)
- 2 tbsp demerara sugar
- 240 ml/1 cup/ gin
- 800g/1 lb 12 oz side of salmon
- 20g/1 oz tarragon
- 20g/1 oz dill
- 4 tbsp grated horseradish – about 2”/5 cm – you can keep this in the freezer and grate as and when you need it.
- Dijon mustard
- Fresh loaf of wholemeal bread
- Unsalted butter
- Peel and chop the beetroot and blitz in a large mixing bowl using a stick blender together with the zest.
- Crush the juniper berries in a pestle and mortar and add to the beetroot mix.
- Add 60 ml/¼ cup/4 tbsps of the gin, the salt, and sugar and blitz again for just a few seconds.
- Line a flat baking tray with baking paper – enough to wrap the whole piece of fish.
- Place the fish skin side down on the paper and pour the beetroot and gin mix over it. Spread over all visible surface. Wrap over the paper. Then envelop the whole thing in clingfilm and leave it in the fridge for a day or so (at least 24 hours).
- Gently rinse the cure off the salmon using a spoon and 120ml/½ cup gin.
- Chop the herbs and mix them with the grated horseradish and the remaining 60 ml/¼ cup/4 tbsps of gin.
- Clean the tray, reline with clean baking paper – enough to wrap over, and put the salmon back onto it, again, skin-side down. Again, cover the whole surface with the herb coating making sure there is no area remaining uncovered with the mix. Wrap the fish over with the rest of baking paper and then once again envelop the whole thing in clingfilm. Put it back in the fridge for another day or so.
- Slice the salmon as thinly as possible, at an angle.
- Serve, the lemon slices, the fresh wholemeal bread, a large jar of Dijon mustard, and, for total profligates, some unsalted butter.