Gin proves to be a gorgeous flavouring for salmon in this delicate dish from Dave Watts, with cucumber, dill and wasabi adding further notes of vibrancy
For the gin-cured salmon:
• 1 side of salmon, 1kg in weight, skinned and trimmed
• 100ml of gin
• 50g of sugar
• 50g of table salt, fine
• 25g of dill, finely chopped
• 25g of lemon zest, microplaned
• 1 pinch of white peppercorns, crushed
• 1 bunch of dill
For the compressed cucumber:
• 75g of cucumber
For the pickled cucumber pearls:
• 75g of cucumber
• 100g of water
• 40g of white wine vinegar
• 10g of olive oil
• 10g of banana shallot, sliced
• 1g of garlic, sliced
• 1/2 sprig of thyme
• 2g of salt, plus extra for seasoning the charred cucumber seeds
• lemon juice
For the wasabi emulsion:
• 7g of wasabi paste
• 100g of white wine
• 30g of shallots, sliced
• 100g of fish stock
• 30g of cucumber, flesh trimmings
• 15g of cucumber, peelings
• 2g of salt
• 1.5g of xanthin gum
1 Begin by preparing the salmon. Combine the sugar, salt, lemon, gin and pepper in a bowl and place the salmon on a tray. Coat both sides of the salmon in the marinade, ensuring the mixture is evenly distributed.
2 Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for 45 minutes.
2 Meanwhile, prepare the cucumber garnishes. Peel the cucumber for the compressed cucumber and use a mandoline to slice the flesh into ribbons, discarding the seeds.
3 Add 2 pinches of salt to the ribbons and set aside for 15 minutes.
4 After this time, rinse off under cold water and set aside in a sieve to drain.
5 To prepare the pickling liquor for the cucumber pearls, combine the water, vinegar, oil, shallot, garlic, thyme and salt in a pan, bring to the boil then remove from the heat. Set aside for 20 minutes to infuse.
6 Meanwhile, use a mandoline to slice the cucumber into 3-5mm thick rounds. Use a suitably-sized pastry cutter to neatly cut out rounds of seeds, then char with a blowtorch until blackened and set aside.
7 Season the charred rounds with a little salt and lemon juice, then set aside until ready to serve.
8 Strain the infused liquor through a strainer. Add the cucumber rings (left from cutting out the seeds) and leave to pickle in the fridge until ready to serve. Once the salmon has been curing for 45 minutes, remove from the fridge and slice away a thin piece of flesh.
9 Wash under cold water, making sure that there is no marinade left on the slice, then pat dry with kitchen towel and taste to check the seasoning.
10 If the flavour level is still a little weak, leave the salmon in the marinade for a further 15-20 minutes.
11 Once the flavour is to your liking, wash the side of salmon off under cold running water and leave to drain on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
12 Once dry, cut the fillet in half lengthways and roll each half tightly in cling film to create 2 sausage shapes. Tie the ends of the rolls tightly with string, ensuring that there are no air pockets. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
13 To cook the salmon, pour hot tap water (55-60°C) into a tray deep enough to completely submerge the salmon. Place the salmon wrapped in cling film into the tray and leave for 10 minutes.
14 After 10 minutes, turn the salmon over and leave for a further 10 minutes.
15 Once ready, remove the salmon from the water and cover in iced or cold running water until cool. Set aside in the fridge and allow to rest for a minimum of 1 hour.
16 For the wasabi emulsion, place the shallots and white wine in a pan, bring to the boil and reduce by half. Then, add the fish stock and cucumber flesh trimmings. Bring back to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to chill.
17 Add the cucumber peelings, wasabi paste and salt and tip into a blender. Blitz until smooth, then slowly add the xanthan gum to thicken.
18 Once the emulsion has reached the correct consistency, pass through a fine sieve, taste and reserve.
19 Chop the dill as finely as possible. Remove the salmon from the cling film and sprinkle with the chopped dill.
20 Slice the salmon into even portions using a very sharp knife. Place the salmon onto plates with the cucumber pieces, followed by the emulsion and a few picked dill fronds. Serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy of Dave Watts, originally published on GreatBritishChefs.com