Spice & Vodka cured salmon

Mark Hughes Appetisers & Starters, Light Lunches, Salads 0 Comments

If you’ve never tried making your own cured salmon before, we implore you to give it a go. Despite its looks, it’s so fantastically easy and the rewards are lashings of soft, tasty silky salmon far superior to anything shop bought. We promise you, once you’ve done it you just won’t be satisfied with anything less again!

Firstly, it’s not actually the vodka that’s curing the salmon (vodka has been known to cure other things though, albeit briefly) so feel free to leave it out if you like. We liked the addition of the finest grain in this recipe; it added a bit of moisture to let the rest of the marinade/flavour meld together, but it’s up to you. Similarly, no-one’s going to tell you off if you use tequila or even white rum, but don’t let us catch you using Baileys because that’s just wrong.



  1. Whole salmon – you can use just one side if you like, but we picked up a whole fish for around £12 on special offer; fillet, trim it up and pin bone it (or ask your fishmonger to do it for you)
  2. Citrus zest, finely shredded or chopped – we used 1 orange and 2 lemons as they were handy, but we’d have happily used limes if we had them; just the zest though, no pith
  3. 1 tsp Cumin seeds & 1 tsp Fennel seeds
  4. 300g Sea salt – NOT table salt
  5. 300g light brown soft sugar
  6. Good handful of finely chopped dill
  7. Splash of vodka or tequila (optional)


Around 20-25 mins preparation and 2 days curing

  • 10 mins to fillet Salmon
  • 5-10 mins to prepare cure
  • 5 mins making & wrapping fish
  • 2 days curing time in fridge


  1. Toast the Cumin and Fennel seeds in a dry pan until fragrant, then grind with mortar and pestle until coarse, not powder
  2. Add chopped Citrus zest and Dill and mix well
  3. Spread half over each side of Salmon, pressing into the flesh
  4. Combine the Salt and Sugar and spread over the top of the Salmon too; drizzle with the vodka shot to add a bit of moisture
  5. Pull out some cling film and lay it on the worktop; place one piece of Salmon skin-side-down on the cling film, then put the other one on top, skin-side up, sandwiching the cure mix between the flesh
  6. Pull the cling film over the fish and wrap nice and tightly a few times
  7. Place in a baking tray, then put another baking tray on top and fill with a few tins or similar to keep it pressing down on the fish; this will help drive the moisture out and the flavour/cure into the flesh
  8. Leave in the fridge for 2 days
  9. After 2 days, careful unwrap your prize and gently wash the cure mixture off under a cool tap – the flesh will feel firmer; pat dry and you’re ready to go
  10. To serve, carve thin slices on the diagonal until you reach the skin and it will simply flick off; gently fold into ribbons on a plate, add a few drops of oil and garnish with lemon wedges
I’ve made this for a Christmas day treat and still been eating it a couple of days later (I did other things too) so 20-25 minutes effort can give you tasty treats for days!


Playing around with the flavouring and cure gives you so many possibilities for interesting flavour combinations, as long as you keep the Salt and the Sugar about the same as the recipe you can tweak pretty much anything else. Ones we’ve tried or are going to try are:

  • add a few drops of good Vanilla extract to the cure, or scrape out a fresh Vanilla Pod
  • add a finely sliced red chilli to the cure if you want a bit of extra bite
  • add some freshly grated liquorice root to the cure
  • add some crushed yellow mustard seeds to the cure for a touch of warmth without the chilli edge

Let us know how you get on!


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