Pickled Salmon with Skin Chips
There's a huge difference between difficult and time-consuming; this recipe is not difficult, and even the time it consumes (to cure, brine, and pickle) asks nothing of you. It takes care of itself, in other words—and when it does, you're left with a spiced, sour-sweet fish; mild, almost candied onions; and lemons, honeyed and ready to eat straight. Don't be overwhelmed by the pickling spices; use what you have (though I will say that the allspice borrows particularly from the Scandinavian palate, if you're into that).
1 center-cut, skin-on salmon fillet (8 ounces)
2/3 cup salt
2 cups warm water, from the tap
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 lemon, diced into 1-inch cubes
Large bunch fresh dill (about 1 cup)
Day One. First, set your freezer to the lowest possible temperature. Place your salmon fillet in a resealable bag, and just before zipping all the way, suck the air out with your mouth (to "vacuum-pack" it, essentially). Freeze for 24–48 hours to kill any potential whatevers.
Day Two. For the brine curing: Place the salt and water in a container with a tight-fitting lid (like a mason jar) and shake vigorously until dissolved. Pour this salt water into the plastic bag with the frozen salmon fillet. Let brine in the fridge, completely submerged, for 24 more hours.
Day Three. For the pickling: In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar, water, rice vinegar, mustard seed, allspice, black peppercorns, and bay leaves to a gentle simmer, stirring just until the sugar is dissolved. Let steep until cool (ice cubes help).
In a sterilized, 4 cup–capacity mason jar, layer the red onion slices, lemon dices, salmon fillet (cut into however many pieces it takes to fit), and dill. Pour over the cooled pickling liquid, ensuring that everything is covered. If some of the accoutrements remain uncovered (i.e., the dill), then top off with more vinegar. Pickle your salmon for another 24 hours, or until ready to serve.
Day Four. Cut the skin away from the salmon and crisp it up in a dry pan on medium heat, about 5 minutes per side. Cut into squares.
Carve the salmon further, into 1-inch cubes this time, and plate alongside the pickled onions and lemons, the prepared skin chips, and a sprig or two of fresh dill.