In British Columbia, wild salmon is one of our most important and beloved fish. From pinks to sockeyes, a variety of salmon can be caught off the waters near Sonora Resort, located at the mouth of Bute Inlet in the Discovery Islands.
Guests who fish at Sonora have the option of taking home their catch, and can also have their fish prepared in a variety of ways, including smoked and canned, care of St. Jean’s Cannery. Recently, in celebration of the Order of Canada’s 50th anniversary, my canned smoked wild B.C. salmon was enjoyed at an Order of Canada Investiture dinner at Ottawa’s Rideau Hall. It was an honour to have our locally-caught Sonora salmon featured on the menu at this momentous occasion and during Canada’s 150th confederate birthday year.
Our Relais & Chateaux executive chef Lukas Gurtner regularly features the bounty of our ocean, especially salmon, in his dishes. Here you will find the recipe to one of my favourite new dishes: chef’s beet-cured salmon, which preserves the natural flavours and oils of the fish alongside perfect accompaniments.
Preparing the fresh salmon
4-pound salmon fillet
With a sharp knife, de-skin the fillet of salmon, starting from the tail and going to the head.
Using fish tweezers, de-bone your fillet carefully without damaging the fish.
When de-boned, trim the belly off as well as the thinner part of the tail so you have an even-sized fillet (you can use the trim for a stew, or if you’re feeling adventurous, it makes awesome tar-tar).
Take the fillet and cut it in half lengthwise.
Keep it refrigerated and prepare your beet cure mixture.
1 litre salt
500 millilitres sugar
250 millilitres beet pulp
250 millilitres beet juice
10 fresh bay leaves
100 millilitres fresh tarragon
100 millilitres fresh dill
4 zests of lemon
2 zests of orange
4 tablespoons coriander seed
4 tablespoons fennel seed
2 tablespoons black pepper corn
Take your spices and toast them in a pan until aromatic.
After they have cooled down, add them into a food processor with everything except for the beet juice.
Blend this until everything is coarsely ground.
When ready for curing your fish, add the beet juice to the mixture.
Curing the fish
Take a large piece of plastic wrap and place it onto a flat counter.
Take half a cup of your curing mixture and place it down evenly on the wrap.
Place one of your pieces of salmon on top, and then add another half cup of the curing mixture to cover.
Make sure the full piece of fish is covered completely with your beet cure.
Roll this into a tight log and tie off each side.
Repeat this process with your other piece of fish.
Let cure for 30 to 40 minutes.
When finished, rinse the curing mixture off and place the fish on a towel to dry off any access water.
Re-roll with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until needed.
When needed, slice evenly-sized pieces around a quarter of an inch thick (if you slice it too thick, it is slightly unpleasant to eat); if you have any leftover curing mixture, you can save it for future use. Plate as desired.
Serve, and savour.
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