Beetroot cured salmon paired with pickled cucumber, horseradish sauce and an avocado cream.
Beetroot cured salmon makes an impressive looking starter on any dinner table. However, despite appearances, it is a relatively easy starter to prepare. It’s a simple case of curing the fish with salt, sugar and any flavourings that you’d like to use. In this case we opted for beetroot, dill, caraway and white peppercorns. The basis of a simple gravalax. However you could easily add other spices, fennel seeds would also work well in the dish.
Curing is a very old method used for storing fish. The salt cure firms up the flesh of the fish, dehydrating it and thereby removing the liquid and killing bacteria. You need to cure the salmon for 24-48 hours (ideally 48 hours as it intensifies both colour and flavour). Take care to turn the salmon every 12 hours to ensure an even marinate. You will know the salmon is ready as the flesh will feel firm to touch.
When ready to cut the salmon, discard the cure and brush away any excess on the salmon itself. At this point many recipes suggest washing the salmon, however I think this washes away some of the flavour. Instead I tend to take my time to brush away any excess. A really sharp knife is essential for cutting the salmon as you want nice even slices of fish.
Once cured, the salmon will keep for up to 3 weeks in the fridge. Simply wrap it up well in parchment paper and refrigerate. We created a delicious starter with the fish. But it is also delicious served with a hollandaise sauce and soft poached egg or with buttery scrambled eggs with toast. Use it as you would smoked salmon.
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Beetroot Cured Salmon with Pickled Cucumber, Horseradish & Avocado
- 1 kg side of salmon - skin on and de-boned
- 300 g cooked beetroot
- 100 g salt
- 75 g caster sugar
- 1 large bunch fresh dill
- 2 tsp caraway seeds
- 2 tsp white peppercorns
- 2 whole cucumber
- 150 ml white wine vinegar
- 5 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 large bunch fresh dill
- 2 tsp horseradish sauce
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- salt & pepper
- 175 ml double cream
- 2 large ripe avocados
- 4 tbsp creme fraiche
- 4 tbsp chopped fresh dill
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 cooked beetroot - cut into cubes
- pea shoots
- fresh dill
- Place the salt, sugar, dill, caraway seeds and white peppercorns into a food processor along with the cooked beetroot. Blitz to a pulp.
- Lay 2-3 sheets of clingfilm on top of each other. Cut the salmon side in half. Place one half of the salmon skin side down on the clingfilm. Pour the beetroot and salt mixture over the flesh of the fish and place the other piece of salmon on top, skin side up. Ensure the flesh of the salmon is completely covered in the cure and tightly wrap with clingfilm.
- Place the wrapped up salmon into a tray and allow it to rest and chill in the fridge for 48 hours. Turn the fish every 12 hours. After 48 hours the salmon will feel firm to the touch.
- Pare the cucumber into thin ribbons along the length, using a potato peeler. Place the ribbons in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and cover with ice cold water. Set aside for an hour to draw out excess water.
- After an hour drain thoroughly and wash off any residual salt. Place the ribbons on kitchen paper and dry completely.
- Meanwhile place the vinegar, sugar and dill into a saucepan and simmer gently for 5 minutes to dissolve the sugar. Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Place the cucumber ribbons in a plastic container with a tight sealing lid. Pour over the pickling liquor and stir to combine. Allow to cool completely, then cover with lid and place in the fridge for a minimum of two hours but ideally 2 days.
- Mix together the horseradish sauce, mustard, vinegar and sugar. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
- Whip the double cream into peaks and stir through the horseradish mixture. Place in the fridge to chill until ready to serve.
- Place the avocado and creme fraiche in a bowl and mix together with a stick blender, add the dill and season with salt and further blitz to a smooth cream. Set aside until ready to serve.
- After 48 hours remove the salmon from the cling film and discard any excess cure.
- Using a sharp knife cut the salmon into thin slices, much as you would if cutting smoked salmon.
- Place some of the horseradish sauce on the plate and arrange the sliced salmon on top. Pipe or spoon some avocado cream onto the plate. Arrange the pickled cucumber and cooked beetroot around the plate and garnish with pea shoots and fresh dill fronds. Serve immediately.