This cured salmon recipe features a little Slavic twist with a light marinade of sliced onions & oil. Simple and so much cheaper than store bought varieties!
If you’ve never tried to make cured salmon homemade before, get ready to be floored by how straightforward the process is. In this recipe, we throw in a little Slavic twist that’s reminiscent of Russian “seledka” – a pickled herring dish that’s marinated in sunflower oil and sliced onions. All in all, this gravlax recipe is foolproof, versatile, and perfect for having on hand in the fridge for quick snacking and parties.
What Does “Curing Salmon” Actually Mean?
If you love cured salmon but aren’t particularly sure how it’s made, you’re not alone. Surprisingly, it’s one of the simplest – and most ancient – ways of preparing seafood. “Curing” refers to marinating the fish in a dry rub of salt (and sometimes sugar) and a variety of different spices. After anywhere from 12-18 hours of curing in the refrigerator, the fish is perfectly safe to eat and boasts such a wonderful fresh taste and texture.
How to Make Cured Salmon at Home
With just a little patience and a few steps, tasty salmon is just a few steps away.
- Prepare the Salmon: First, pat the salmon down with a paper towel and generously spread the salt all over the top of the fish.
- Cure the Salmon: Wrap the fillet in plastic wrap and place it in a baking dish. Next, pop it in the fridge and let it “cure” for 12-18 hours.
- Rinse the Salmon: After the fish has cured, rinse it under cold water and allow it to soak for a couple of minutes in a medium bowl of water. Remove the salmon and pat it dry.
- Slice the Salmon: With a sharp knife, slice the fillet at an angle into thin pieces.
- Marinate the Salmon: Place the sliced salmon in a dish and cover it with oil and onions. Allow it to marinate for about an hour. Bon appetit!
Tips for the Best Cured Salmon
A couple of handy tips will help you make cured salmon like a pro.
- Don’t skimp on the salt. The salt is the power behind the curing process! 1/2 cup might seem like a lot, but it’s necessary to help preserve the fish and make it safe to eat.
- Punch up the dry rub with dried herbs and spices. For extra flavor, use a mortar and pestle to grind up black peppercorns, star anise, or coriander seeds and add them directly to the cure mixture (the salt).
- Opt for fresh salmon over frozen when you can. While you can make it using frozen and thawed fish, it’s best to opt for the fresh stuff when you can. Nothing beats the texture or taste!
Several Ways to Serve Cured Salmon
Now for the fun part! There are so many different ways to use this tasty fish, it’s not even funny. Below, find some of our top picks:
- Gravlax Bagel or Sandwich: Toast a bagel or a couple slices of sourdough and smear both sides with cream cheese. Pop on a few, thin slices of cured salmon, followed by sliced red onions, tomatoes, and a sprinkle of capers.
- Appetizer Canapés: Mix 1/4 cup of sour cream or crème fraîche with fresh dill and a bit of lemon zest. Slice up a baguette and spread a bit of mixture on top, followed by a couple slices of cured salmon.
- Cured Salmon Scramble: Scramble 2 eggs with a splash of heavy whipping cream (don’t add salt, as the cured salmon is salty enough!). Fold in a couple of slices of cured salmon and minced chives. Top with a couple of fresh cracks of black pepper and serve for brunch alongside roasted potatoes.
- Cured Salmon & Berry Spinach Salad: Top our berry spinach salad with slices of cured salmon for a light lunch or dinner.
How Long Cured Salmon Keeps Fresh
As a general rule of thumb, the shelf life of cured salmon depends on how long you cure it. The longer it sits in the salt, the longer it will last stored in the fridge in an airtight container. Find a handy guide below:
- Super Light Cure (12 Hours) – Lasts 1 day
- Light Cure (24 Hours) – Lasts 1 1/2 days
- Medium Cure (48 hours) – Lasts for 2 days
- Hard Cure (72 hours) – Lasts up to 5 days
Can you freeze cured salmon? Yes! You can freeze cured salmon in plastic bags. To thaw it, place it in the fridge overnight and eat it within 1 day.
What does cured salmon taste like?
The flavor of cured salmon is somewhere in between Japanese sashimi (which is raw) and smoked salmon.
Is cured salmon the same thing as smoked salmon?
It is not! Smoked salmon typically starts with a wet cure in vodka or gin and finishes with a dry smoke.
Can salmon be eaten raw?
Yes, fresh salmon can be eaten raw. However, you’ll need to be very choosey about where you purchase it and the quality. Opt for high-quality seafood markets and don’t be afraid to ask the butcher for help!
How do you know when salmon is fully cured?
You’ll know the salmon is cured when it’s firm to the touch. While the curing time can vary, you’ll know the salt has done it’s job when the texture is tighter at the surface.
Can you use frozen salmon to make gravlax?
Yes, you can use frozen salmon. Make sure to thaw it properly and pat it dry of any excess moisture before using it to make gravlax.
Other Salmon Recipes to Try:
- Cold Smoked Salmon – Smokey cold cured salmon
- Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches (Canapés) – Salmon and cream cheese small bites
- The Best Oven-Baked Salmon (So Easy) – Garlicky oven-baked salmon
- 15-Minute Canned Salmon Dip (Video) – Cream cheese and salmon dip
- 2 lb salmon fillet
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 yellow onion
- Pat the salmon fillet down with a paper towel. Salt each side of the fillet generously, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge for 12-24 hours.
- Rinse the salmon under cold water and let it soak for a few minutes in a bowl of water. Remove the salmon from the water and pat it dry.
- Using a sharp knife, slice the fillet at an angle into very thin pieces.
- Place the salmon in a dish. Cover it with oil and diced onions. Let all the ingredients sit for at least an hour before serving. Enjoy
add to previous comment , Skin always left on allows for a thinner slice with more control. oh and you have great recipes. I thank you. And as my friend and associate. James ,,Jimmy ,to his friends ,, Beard in the 1970s would say " Good Appetite "
I have been curing fresh Norwegian salmon for many years , gee never heard of not using sugar. equal parts of each and a shot of Vodka. also using crumbled air dried seaweed and less salt. please comment on why no sugar !!
Hi Joseph- this is just my simplified take on curing salmon, the way my mom always made it. Hope you give it a try and enjoy the recipe!
How long is it safe to eat the cured salmon for. 2-3 days or a week? Just wondering if it lasts as long as the store bought one.
I would say up 3-4 days. You have to be careful and purchase fresh salmon, it will say fresh longer. Store-bought salmon does stay fresh longer.
Pro tip. Use previously frozen salmon. If you find fresh wild silver or coho at Costco It’s hook and line caught and the most affordable high quality salmon. Make sure you freeze it for 7 days to kill any parasites. The results will be way better than if you use farm raised salmon.
Hey, thank you for sharing all the tips. Really appreciate it!
I just salted my salmon but realized I used regular iodized salt. Is that going to be okay, or is it really important to use kosher/chunky salt? Please let me know!
Hey Alena, it should work just fine, its more of a preference thing.
One of my favorite ways to prepare salmon. Love it!
Haven't had this in awhile....