While I haven’t left the kitchen, I have finally made it back to my computer and my site to be more specific. I decided to take a small sabbatical while trying to get my arms around my new position which has grown exponentially in the last couple of months, that’s a good thing. But this early spate of warm weather here in Colorado was just the little shove I needed to get back to the photos and the recipes.
It seems as I get older the winters get a little longer each year and I yearn more and more for the warm weather. Now, I realize it is still March and that most likely there are still many cold days/nights to come, but this last week and a half has been a great preview and has helped to drag me out of my cold weather slumber.
As the warm weather rolls in, I begin to think of lighter, fresher foods, specifically, the sandwich. I am not afraid to say the sandwich is far and away my favorite way to eat. I love a good rare steak or a beautifully cooked piece of fresh fish, but pressed for my feelings on a meal, I’ll always choose the sandwich first. A sandwich has no restrictions and no limitations. There is an endless array of fillings, combinations and presentations that make the sandwich a unique food. Unfortunately this doesn’t always fit into the plans of dining companions and family who don’t share the same fervor I do for the sandwich, but left to myself it’s a hoagie, a burger, a reuben or anything good thrown into good bread with a good spread and good garnish…heaven.
As I said, this warm weather got me thinking, especially about lunch. This is a sandwich that takes a little preparation and patience but is well worth it in the end.
The first step is to either purchase a good cured salmon or, if you want to do something special, make your own. You could also substitute a smoked salmon or even a grilled salmon if you wanted.
2 parts kosher salt
1 part light brown sugar
1 part granulated sugar
1 piece of skin-on salmon
1. In a pan with sides (the curing process will create a fair amount of liquid you don’t want leaking all over your refrigerator), spread a thin but complete layer of the cure mix on the bottom of your pan, edge to edge.
2. Lay the salmon, skin side down, in the pan.
3. From here you are free to add any number or herbs and/or spices to give your cured salmon its own little twist. Citrus might be another option by laying thin slices of lemon on the salmon before completing the curing process.
4. Once you’ve decided if you will flavor the salmon with extra ingredients, generously sprinkle the flesh side of the salmon with the cure mix making sure to keep it even all around the fish. You should have a roughly 1-2 mm depth of cure mix all over the fish.
5. Cover the pan and place in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, or until the salmon is firm.
6. If you want to speed up the process a little, you could place another waited pan on top of the salmon which will speed the process up by 18-24 hours.
7. Once your salmon has cured, remove from the pan and rinse gently under cool water making sure to wash all the remaining salt off the flesh.
8. From here you can take thin biased slices making sure to flatten out your knife once you get to the skin (it’s the skin which will help keep your salmon in one nice piece and make it easier to slice).
9. The cured salmon will last refrigerated 2-3 weeks.
1 ½ cups aioli (you can use mayonnaise or get your aioli recipe here)
Juice of half a lime
1. Puree the aioli, avocados and lime juice till smooth.
2. Season to taste with kosher salt.
Assembling your sandwich…
3 slices of good sourdough or pumpernickel bread
3 slices crispy bacon
1 bunch living watercress
Sliced red onions
Sliced ripe tomatoes
Sliced cured salmon
1. Spread avocado aioli on 2 slices of the bread.
2. On the first slice place the water cress, tomato and bacon.
3. On the second slice place more watercress, the red onion and the cured salmon and place bread side down on top of the first slice.
4. Top the sandwich with the 3rd plain slice, unless you’d rather slather more of the avocado aioli on that slice as well. Like I said with sandwiches, there are no hard and fast rules so make sure you make it the way you want to eat it.