As the weather starts to turn to Spring (we’re expecting highs of 8 degrees Celsius here in Ottawa this week!), I’ve been reminiscing about the golden days of yesteryear wiling away weekends gallivanting from restaurant to restaurant chasing perfectly poached eggs and lemony hollandaise with bottomless mimosas.
Since it seems we’re likely a few months out from being able to live that dream again, I’ve committed to brunching to the fullest from the comfort of my own home.
If you’ve been a regular reader of the blog for some time, you’ll likely recognize my affection for smoked salmon – from my Savoury Smoked Salmon Dutch Baby to my Herbed Salmon and Potato Frittata. While I haven’t attempted smoking my own salmon at home (yet), I took a stab at salt-curing salmon over the holidays and was absolutely delighted with the result.
Years ago, a friend served beet-cured salmon at brunch and I was gobsmacked by the beautiful jewel-tone exterior and pretty pink flesh of the cured fish. After the success of my first curing experiment, I knew I had to try my hand at a beet cure next.
It may seem intimidating but this beet-cured salmon only requires 5-10 minutes of hands-on time and then you let the curing mixture do the work for 2-3 days in the fridge.
The beautiful thing about this recipe, aside from the salmon itself, is that you can have brunch for 4-6 people without dirtying every pot and pan in your kitchen. You just need a big serving board, like the one I’ve used here, and some side plates – don’t forget the mimosas or Caesars!
It’s also a great opportunity to appeal to a variety of palates as guests can assemble their own bagels to their tastes. Just make sure everyone likes fish.
Beet-Cured Salmon Brunch Board
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried dill
- ¾ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup sugar
- Zest of one orange
- Zest of one lemon
- 1½ lb skin-on salmon fillet pin bones removed
- 1 medium beet peeled and coarsley grated
- 1 pkg cream cheese
- 4-6 Montreal-style sesame/poppyseed/everything bagels sliced in half
- 1 lemon thinly sliced
- 1 Persian cucumber thinly sliced
- 1 bunch fresh dill
- ½ red onion thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp capers
Create the curing mixture. Combine spices, salt, sugar, citrus zest and grated beets in a small bowl.
Place a large piece of plastic wrap on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread out half the curing mixture on the plastic wrap. Lay salmon, skin side down, on top of the curing mixture. Top with remaining curing mixture and pack to adhere on all sides. Bring up the sides of the plastic wrap and tightly secure around the fish. Once tightly wrapped, place in a Ziplock bag and arrange the fillet, flesh-side up, on a baking sheet or plate. Rest a heavy object on top of the fish like a cast iron pan or other flat, rimmed vessel on top of the fish. Place salmon in the refrigerator for at least 2 days, or up to 5 days.
Unwrap salmon and clean off the curing mixture with a damp paper towel, pat dry, and thinly slice to serve.
To assemble the brunch board, place the cream cheese in a bowl, capers in a small ramekin, layer the remaining components around the board and let guests assemble their bagels with their preferred toppings. Enjoy!