Fishily Well Preserved


Our local fisherman’s coop has reopened, rebranded and under new management. It was closed for an age last year, with a sad little sign saying ‘refurbishing, open end August’. The weeks turned to months, and the months rolled on way past August, and we became convinced our local supply of (hopefully sustainable) low road mile fishies was never coming back. Just before Christmas it reopened, and we discovered it had been closed due to illness. Well, I guess they couldn’t hack it after all, because now it’s being run by someone else – some staff still the same, still the produce of a local cooperative – and they have an attractive new look.

Happily there’s also still the lovely range of locally caught fish – local being up as far as Newcastle and down south past Sydney – supplemented occasionally with catch from further away. I try to focus on the local stuff, but every now and then I do like a bit of salmon, and that comes from elsewhere in Australia most of the time.

On my last visit, there was a whole side of a small salmon, with a thickness of less than an inch throughout – ideal for curing.


I bought the tail end of the side, and stuck it in the freezer for 2 days. I don’t know if this works or not but I’d been told it kills off any parasites, and so I’ve always done it. Lindy Wildsmith also recommends it, and it’s her recipe I’m using here.

The Cure


2 tablespoons each of sea salt, pepper, sugar; a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and a bunch of dill, chopped finely – about a cup full.

Trim your defrosted salmon to remove membrane or excess fat, and debone carefully. Leave the skin intact.

Mix the cure ingredients and rub all over the fish, place in a ziplock bag or covered glass dish, and place in the fridge for 2 days, skin side down.

Turn the fish occasionally. After 24 hours, drain away any liquid and re-cover. Return to the fridge.

salmon juiceLots of liquid will leach out of the salmon

After another 24 hours (2 days in total), I checked the salmon again. I was looking for it to be firm throughout, and have that slightly translucent colour which I associate with commercial cold smoked salmon. I don’t know of any reliable way to check other than to just cut it open and have a look:

salmn 2 days

This isn’t a great photo but I could see that it was evenly translucent. I can see from my notes against the recipe that on previous occasions, the fish had been slightly thicker, and at this stage it had looked as if it were translucent around the outside edge, but more raw-fish looking in the middle of the cut. It had been softer too.

I scraped away most of the cure, and put it back in the fridge uncovered overnight to dry out a bit.

salmon colour 1

Next day, we served it up with boiled potatoes and some greens – the plainess of the potatoes serve to soak up some of the saltiness of the fish. On the side was a big dollop of dill mayo sauce – I’ve made my own in the past but this time I used a pot of Ikea’s ‘sas senap & dill’. Not bad! For presentation purposes, you’re meant to covered the salmon with more finely chopped dill before slicing, but frankly I forgot to buy more and I couldn’t really tell the difference.

The all important taste test proved key – not as salty as last time, even though I thought I’d followed the recipe to the letter, I must have done something different to finish the curing process in 2 days rather than 3, and with the skin on too. Maybe the salt grains were smaller? Just goes to show it’s all about experimentation!

salmon close


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