Bourbon Cured Salmon

with dill & fennel

I have to have one more beach day before summer is over. The weather has already turned to fall just a bit here in New York. I’m sure we will have a few flashes of heat in the next few weeks, but I have a feeling it won’t get above 78 degrees for a long time, so Kramer and I have gathered some friends together for one last glorious beach trip this weekend. I need one more fish taco and one more basket of fries with beer before the sun tucks itself away for the winter. Not that I’ll be wanting for beach time this winter. I’m lucky enough to have not one, but two trips planned. Our good friends Tom and Valerie are getting married in Mexico, just outside of Cancun, around Halloween, so we will be drinking out of coconuts and swimming in blue water soon enough. Then, in January, my family is taking a trip to Thailand and bringing Kramer and I along for the ride. So I’m definitely a far cry from warranting any sympathy and very fortunate indeed. I still need to go to Rockaway this weekend, though.

Bourbon Cured Salmon

As I said earlier this week, we strong armed our friends Amanda and Matt into having a Labor Day barbecue at their place this past Sunday. Kramer and I brought over some of the lovely Copper River wild Coho salmon that I was sent straight from Alaska, and along with some steaks and chicken, made a big build-your-own-taco spread for everyone. I loved the salmon in the tacos, personally. I did a curry rub on it and it was so tasty. There were also burgers and hot dogs, of course, and I made some stuffed naan with Amanda’s mom’s excellent mango chutney (curry recipe to come). The weather seemed touch and go for a while there, but then the sun came out and we had a great time. They have such a wonderful outdoor space that it’s hard not to. Thanks again for hosting, guys!

Bourbon Cured Salmon

I already made gravlax earlier this year with my shipment of fresher than fresh Alaskan Copper River salmon, but cured fish is one of my all time favorite things, so I had to make another version. I saw a similar recipe on Macheesmo recently, but I wanted to make it a little more like an old fashioned (figures), so I used orange, raw fennel, peppercorns, a little extra sugar and to keep it traditional, fresh dill. This bourbon salmon packs a big punch of flavor and is absolutely perfect on top of some good rye or pumpernickel with creme fraîche or cream cheese. For a hearty breakfast, throw it on a bagel or toss it into some scrambled eggs – cured fish will last a long time in the fridge, but I promise you that it won’t last longer than one meal.

Bourbon Cured SalmonBBQ time.

Bourbon Cured SalmonAmanda (who is tan and ripped from working at an animal rehabilitation center in Costa Rica all summer).

Bourbon Cured SalmonI made this naan filled with Amanda’s mom’s mango chutney and goat cheese.

Bourbon Cured SalmonMatt.

Bourbon Cured SalmonMorgan.

Bourbon Cured SalmonBourbon Cured SalmonBourbon Cured SalmonThe grillmaester.

Bourbon Cured SalmonSteaks and salmon for tacos. The salmon is more of this beautiful Coho salmon that I made the cured salmon with.

Bourbon Cured SalmonTaco time!

Bourbon Cured SalmonMatt, Shahab and Catherine.

Bourbon Cured SalmonAdam.

Bourbon Cured SalmonThe always photogenic Ryan.

Bourbon Cured SalmonBourbon Cured SalmonBourbon Cured SalmonBourbon Cured SalmonSo, down to business. Combine your cure ingredients.

Bourbon Cured SalmonGrab your beautiful salmon.

Bourbon Cured SalmonThen pile everything on, wrap it up and wait 72 hours!

Bourbon Cured SalmonSlice it up and serve it the way you like.

Bourbon Cured Salmon

Bourbon Cured Salmon
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4 for breakfast
Fresh Alaskan salmon cured with bourbon, fennel and dill.
For the Salmon:
  • 1 pound salmon filet, skin on
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup kosher salt
  • 1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup fresh dill
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • ¼ cup bourbon
For Serving:
  • rye and/or pumpernickel bread
  • creme fraîche and/or cream cheese
  • capers
  • tomatoes
  • red onions
  1. Place your salmon on a big piece of plastic wrap. In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt, fennel, dill, orange zest and black peppercorns. Take your bourbon and pour it over your fish, patting it into the flesh, then pour your sugar and salt mixture over the fish and pat it on top of the bourbon. It will seem like a lot, but just go for it. Wrap the salmon tightly in plastic wrap as best you can and place the wrapped fish in some kind of bowl or dish (so nothing leaks all over your fridge - believe me, it will leak). Place the fish in your fridge and allow it to cure for 72 hours.
  2. When ready, unwrap the salmon and rinse it off really well. Pat the fish dry with a paper towel, and slice thinly as a slight angle. Serve with your favorite accoutrement and enjoy! The cured salmon will keep well, wrapped tightly, in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.


9 Responses

  1. Wow what a yum spread of food! I am in love with your cured salmon recipe by the way. I tried it early this month. Let say I need to order more salmon because it was gobbed up instantly!

  2. Tieghan says:

    Bourbon cured salmon? Now come on! That is just awesome!

  3. And that I what I called LIFE, great food, friends, good time.

  4. I have to finally come out of the blog reader shadows for this one. First of all – the cured salmon recipes you’ve been sharing lately? The number one thing I miss from NY/NJ. My parents live in Jersey and I always sneak into the city when I’m home for a visit. And I always – ALWAYS – have salmon, herring or white fish smoked, cured, in salad or schmear form every single day I’m there. Here in Nashville there just aren’t any decent substitutes. Second – THAILAND? I cannot WAIT to read through your amazing food + culture journey through that place. I grew up in SE Asia and cannot ever visit Thailand too much. Next up is a visit to explore the northern reaches of the country and possibly venture into Cambodia, Laos, Burma. Anyways – I’ll quit blabbering on. Love this post – love the recipe – love the memories of ‘home’ [both Stateside and across the globe] – and am thrilled that you’re sharing your gift of writing, photography, recipe development, etc. with the world.

  5. […] River Ferry anyway, thinking that maybe it’d clear up a bit like it did the day before at our barbecue. We got to the island, laid out our picnic blanket, went to town on some delicious bread, meat and […]

  6. kdunlap9 says:

    I actually made this recipe and can offer some useful feedback. It was delicious — exactly as written — and a wonderful surprise at our end of summer picnic. Served with regular ole cream cheese and crackers and was gone in a flash. A great use of a precious salmon filet. Don’t forget to ONLY use wild caught Alaskan salmon. Farmed salmon is trash. Spend the money; it’s worth it on every level :)

  7. […] bourbon cured salmon tartines on pumpernickel, from the Crepes of Wrath… and for the sweets, some petite cubes of these buckwheat […]

  8. Lien says:

    Can I just ask if the salmon should be laid on the cure and then covered so it’s completely encased with the cure or just over on top?

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