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Dry-salting salmon for cold smoking or nova/gravlax-curing,


Karldub
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Hi!

I've always taken the skin off my salmon when curing it to make gravlax/nova or cold-smoked salmon. However, I've seen that leaving the skin on the salmon in the end creates nicer slices and is done by all the profesional smoke-houses.

However, when I've tried, I can't get the curing even. No matter how much salt I put on surface that faces the skin, It seems as if the flesh closest to the skin doesn't get cured enough, which leaves the texture raw-ish and the taste is not enough salty. I can distribute the salinity through the salmon by putting it in water for about an hour after the curing. This however didn't cure the flesh close to the skin noteworthy and also affects the "upper" looks of my salmon fillet.

I've seen that some people score the skin of the salmon fillet, this however is not the traditional method. What are your experiences with curing?

Karl

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I've curing the salmon in a large container, but I've also tried wrapping the salmon in clingfilm with the salt stuck on both sides as well, using less salt that time though. I've never done wacuum curing. When I cured my salmon in a large container, I cut down on the salt on top of the salmon, but instead i put weights on top of the salmon just to really force the skin side of the salmon against the salt. I did this to see just how much of the curing is done through the skin, which in my case was very little. I do have a have hard time imagining how the salt from the bottom is able to pass through that thick, tough salmon skin to cure it, but I know I'm probably wrong about those suspicions

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I'm not sure the salt is really penetrating the skin, so much as just making it all the way through the flesh. How long are you curing for? I usually cure salmon for between 36 and 48 hours, but I'm doing it in a vacuum bag to ensure that the brine that forms stays in contact with the fish.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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You really don't have to remove the skin since the salt will penetrate given time. I do both dry curing and wet brining and have experimented with a lot of different techniques. I have scored the skin which does allow more the salt to get into the skin side a little better. Most of the time I don't bother.

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Hi again. Oh, what I mean was that I was not sure if the salt actually gets through the skin to cure the flesh closest to it, no the skin itself. But I guess it does, since it's the common way of doing it. I guess I'll just have to try with more salt on the underside, for a longer time. Thanks.

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... No matter how much salt I put on surface that faces the skin, It seems as if the flesh closest to the skin doesn't get cured enough...

I can distribute the salinity through the salmon by putting it in water for about an hour after the curing. This however didn't cure the flesh close to the skin noteworthy and also affects the "upper" looks of my salmon fillet.

...

... I've also tried wrapping the salmon in clingfilm with the salt stuck on both sides as well, using less salt that time though. I've never done wacuum curing. When I cured my salmon in a large container, I cut down on the salt on top of the salmon, but instead i put weights on top of the salmon just to really force the skin side of the salmon against the salt. ...

... I guess I'll just have to try with more salt on the underside, for a longer time.

I don't believe that the salt penetrates equally quickly through the skin as into exposed flesh.

But it doesn't have to.

Penetrating the flesh is a matter of time for thickness. Not really much to do with the quantity of salt (unless minimal quantities of salt).

And it probably varies somewhat between Atlantic Salmon and each of the different Pacific "Salmon".

I note that Karl hasn't actually told us how much salt he is using, what manner of fish or the duration of his curing, pellicle-formation, smoking or post-cure resting.

This makes it hard to comment on what he is actually doing!

However, its important to note that the time for the cure to penetrate and equalise is the sum total of the time before consumption.

I don't see any virtue in dry-salt-curing followed by a thorough soak for an hour or so. That I'd expect to lead to more water in the fish.

Personally, for smoking farmed Atlantic Salmon, I tend towards brine-curing (only an hour or so), and thorough air-drying (at least 4 hours), thin smoke for a "long time" (I now have a brilliantly simple Pro-Q which will smoulder overnight - I'd like to go with even less dense smoke for longer, but, hey...) and then I leave it (well wrapped - not least for the sake of the rest of the contents)) in the fridge for at least a couple of days. I've never thought I was suffering from uneven curing.

Of course the skin is needed to maintain the structural integrity of the fillet through curing, drying, smoking and slicing.

It might be worth Karl looking at the discussion of Ruhlman's "Charcuterie" Salmon methods.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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remove the skin and dry cure in plastic bag a by using the desired % of salt you want in the finished product, that way you can leave it forever and it will still be at the correct salt level...

Bud

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The general practice in Sweden is that you leave the skin on, easier to cut and keeps it's form better.

/gilius

I agree. I leave the skin on and I've never noticed a difference in the end result. The skin can be used as a sort of natural handle to hold the meat of the salmon in place while you thinly slice it.

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Wow haven't posted on here forever, so pardon my jumping in. Same as a lot of others I leave the skin on but I use a method one of my chef's showed me it's a wet cure, that is we used to make a slurry by mixing, onion, garlic, celery and/or fennel(sometimes some gin too)and curing salt in the food processor, the moisture from the veg would turn the salt into a slurry. We would put a layer in a container and put the fish skin side down and pour over the rest of the mix. Usually after about 12-24 hours it was well cured and the fish picks up the aromatics quite well if not smoking otherwise follow the air-drying/smoking instructions. This method works well for me and is worth looking into if you've only ever covered the filets in salt.

cheers

Franck

http://eightysixed.typepad.com/86ed/

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