It’s French, it’s classy and James Bond loved it. Let us introduce you to Lillet (pronounced lee-lay), one of our top picks for breezy summertime drinking. Lillet is an aperitif wine made from a blend of wine, liqueurs, fruits and herbs. It works perfectly as a curing agent in our simple cured-salmon recipe.
Cured salmon is a Nordic cooking treasure, unbeatable bagel topping, sovereign summer-time canapé and, when folded into creamy scrambled eggs, very close to a religious experience.
This salt-cured fish dish, with its intense orange and pink colour and its melt-in-your-mouth texture, is brilliant on its own or on top of a thin rye crisp with horseradish cream and lemon. It’s simple to prep and will impress any and all party guests.
Lillet-Cured Salmon with Rye Crisps and Horseradish Sour Cream
700g side of salmon, skin on, pin-boned
160g rock salt
50g raw sugar
40g grated horseradish (fresh and grated is best but if you can’t find fresh then a good quality jarred horseradish can be used)
350g raw beetroot, peeled and grated
2 cups chopped fresh dill
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
Horseradish Sour Cream
150ml sour cream
50ml plain yoghurt
2 tsp horseradish (again, fresh and grated is best but if you can’t find fresh then a good quality jarred horseradish can be used)
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
A small handful of fresh dill, finely chopped
Place the salmon on a large flat tray, skin-side down, and sprinkle the salt evenly over the fish. Pat down gently with your hands.
Scatter the sugar over and spread the horseradish and grated beetroot all over the salmon so that the pink flesh is completely covered. Gently pat down with your hands.
Pour the Lillet over the fish, then sprinkle all of the dill and grated lemon zest. Cover the tray tightly with glad-wrap and place a weight on top (another flat tray with a few heavy tins of chickpeas or the like works well) then refrigerate for 48 hours.
After two days, unwrap the fish and hold the fillet down while you pour away the liquid from the tray. Using your hands, scrape off the toppings then pat the salmon dry with a piece of paper towel.
Transfer the salmon to a clean chopping board, skin-side down, then slice the fillet thinly at an angle of about 45 degrees, cutting the flesh away from the skin. Slice what you need and arrange on a serving plate or board for serving. Any leftover salmon can be wrapped and stored in the fridge for up to two weeks.
For the horseradish sour cream, mix all the ingredients together. Season to taste and add a bit more dill or lemon juice if you like.
Serve slices of salmon with rye crisps, horseradish cream and lemon.
Kate Olsson is the editor of food blog heytucker.com.