Easily cure your own salmon with vodka and salt and add in your favorite flavors like lemon, juniper berries, and rosemary. Served it as a holiday appetizer, Nordic style, on a rye crostini, with pickled fennel, mustard seeds and crème fraîche.
By Sylvia Fountaine
A few weeks ago, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, challenged me to come up with a recipe using their small batch hand crafted vodka–which I have to tell you is hands down, one of my favorite vodkas.
Have you ever made lox at home? It’s so easy! This simple recipe for salt cured Salmon with rosemary, juniper berries (optional) vodka and lemon zest requires only a few minutes of prep, and then watch as nature takes its course. The resulting lox, after 36 hours of curing, is the perfect addition to your holiday gatherings.
Those of you who are familiar with lox, will probably already know that it is “cured” rather than cooked or smoked. It is actually a very simple, fun process that easy to make at home, quite economically, with very little hands-on time. This time around I used crushed juniper berries, peppercorns and rosemary for a wintry twist, though in the spring I would veer towards fresh dill or tarragon. Play around with this, make it your own and have fun!
Tito’s Handmade Vodka, is produced in Austin, Texas, in its oldest legal distillery. The founder and distiller, Tito Beveridge makes his vodka in small batches, using old-fashioned pot stills, then tastes every batch to make sure it’s to his satisfaction. Tito’s process is similar to those used to make fine single malt scotches, requiring a bit more skill and effort than conventional vodkas, and because of this, it has become my “go-to” vodka, both in catering and at home.
What is great about curing your own salmon, is when it is done it can be used in many other healthy dishes, if you start thinking beyond bagels and cream cheese.
To give you other ideas… use the homemade lox in healthy sushi hand rolls, or a salad, wraps, pasta dishes or even in an omelette. Dress avocado toast with it, or add it to bibimbap. The possibilities are truly endless. Here it’s served as a holiday appetizer, Nordic style, with rye crostini, pickled fennel bulb, mustard seeds and creme fraiche.
- 2 pound filet king salmon ( center, think cut)
- 12 juniper berries ( optional)
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- ½ Cup salt
- ⅛ cup sugar
- zest from 2 large lemons
- ¼ Cup chopped rosemary ( or other herb)
- ¼ Cup Tito's Handmade Vodka
- Place salmon skin side down on a plastic lined sheet pan.
- Pat dry.
- Crush juniper berries and peppercorns ( a course grind is fine)
- Place in a small bowl and add salt, sugar, lemon zest, chopped rosemary ( or other herbs). Stir to combine. Add a scant ¼ cup of vodka, just enough to moisten the salt mixture.
- Stir and Spread evenly over the salmon, pressing it down.
- Wrap up tightly in plastic wrap. Place salmon in a baking dish, and set another slightly smaller baking dish over top, pressing down firmly. Pile up a few cans to weigh it down and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.
- Unwrap the salmon and rinse the cure off under cold, running water. Pat dry and slice diagonally into paper-thin slices.
- Note: The longer you cure it ...the saltier it will be. I find that it is perfect at 36 hours, but no longer than 48 hours.
Caterer and chef of Feast Catering Co., my blog Feasting at Home is where I share wholesome, seasonal recipes we cook at home.