Gin proves to be a gorgeous flavouring for salmon in this summery dish from Dave Watts, with cucumber, dill and wasabi adding further notes of vibrancy. You can ask your fishmonger to skin and trim the side of salmon for this gin-cured salmon recipe if easier.
Dave Watts may have come to cooking relatively late (at the age of 21), but he has more than made up for his slow start – winning Good Food Guide’s Chef to Watch accolade in 2013 and impressing at the stove of The Star Inn.
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Begin by preparing the salmon. Combine the sugar, salt, lemon, gin and pepper in a bowl and place the salmon on a tray. Coat both sides of the salmon in the marinade, ensuring the mixture is evenly distributed. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for 45 minutes
100ml of gin
50g of sugar
50g of table salt, fine
25g of dill, finely chopped
25g of lemon zest, microplaned
1 pinch of white peppercorns, crushed
1 side of salmon, 1kg in weight, skinned and trimmed
Meanwhile, prepare the cucumber garnishes. Peel the cucumber for the compressed cucumber and use a mandoline to slice the flesh into ribbons, discarding the seeds
75g of cucumber
40g of white wine vinegar
Add 2 pinches of salt to the ribbons and set aside for 15 minutes
After this time, rinse off under cold water and set aside in a sieve to drain
To prepare the pickling liquor for the cucumber pearls, combine the water, vinegar, oil, shallot, garlic, thyme and salt in a pan, bring to the boil then remove from the heat. Set aside for 20 minutes to infuse
100g of water
10g of olive oil
10g of banana shallot, sliced
1g of garlic, sliced
1/2 sprig of thyme
2g of salt
Meanwhile, use a mandoline to slice the cucumber into 3-5mm thick rounds. Use a suitably-sized pastry cutter to neatly cut out rounds of seeds, then char with a blowtorch until blackened and set aside. Season the charred rounds with a little salt and lemon juice, then set aside until ready to serve
75g of cucumber
Strain the infused liquor through a strainer. Add the cucumber rings (left from cutting out the seeds) and leave to pickle in the fridge until ready to serve
Once the salmon has been curing for 45 minutes, remove from the fridge and slice away a thin piece of flesh. Wash under cold water, making sure that there is no marinade left on the slice, then pat dry with kitchen towel and taste to check the seasoning
If the flavour level is still a little weak, leave the salmon in the marinade for a further 15-20 minutes. Once the flavour is to your liking, wash the side of salmon off under cold running water and leave to drain on a wire rack for 10 minutes
Once dry, cut the fillet in half lengthways and roll each half tightly in cling film to create 2 sausage shapes. Tie the ends of the rolls tightly with string, ensuring that there are no air pockets. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours
To cook the salmon, pour hot tap water (55-60°C) into a tray deep enough to completely submerge the salmon. Place the salmon wrapped in cling film into the tray and leave for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn the salmon over and leave for a further 10 minutes
Once ready, remove the salmon from the water and cover in iced or cold running water until cool. Set aside in the fridge and allow to rest for a minimum of 1 hour
For the wasabi emulsion, place the shallots and white wine in a pan, bring to the boil and reduce by half. Then, add the fish stock and cucumber flesh trimmings. Bring back to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to chill
100g of white wine
30g of shallots, sliced
100g of fish stock
30g of cucumber, flesh trimmings
Add the cucumber peelings, wasabi paste and salt and tip into a blender. Blitz until smooth, then slowly add the xanthan gum to thicken. Once the emulsion has reached the correct consistency, pass through a fine sieve, taste and reserve
7g of wasabi paste
15g of cucumber, peelings
2g of salt
1.5g of xanthan gum
Chop the dill as finely as possible. Remove the salmon from the cling film and sprinkle with the chopped dill
1 bunch of dill
Slice the salmon into even portions using a very sharp knife. Place the salmon onto plates with the cucumber pieces, followed by the emulsion and a few picked dill fronds. Serve immediately
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