Pickled Summer Carrot, Salmon Gravadlax and Borage
Portion/Yield:Serves 6 as a starter or light lunch
Pickling, smoking, curing and preserving have always played a huge part in my cooking. I love squirreling away as much as possible and preserving the season’s finest for as long as I possibly can. Sometimes we cure foods, such as bacon and salmon, not necessarily for keepsakes, but rather to create a new flavour or ingredient that we can then enjoy in recipes.
These pickled carrots, with their slightly spicy flavour and crunchy texture, are the perfect accompaniment for the mellow, soft flesh of the cured salmon. I like using edible flowers in recipes too, though I find some are a bit garish and perhaps old-fashioned, but borage flowers are one of the ‘cooler’ ones around. I use them for their taste and what they bring to recipes, and in this dish, the fresh cucumber taste of the borage flowers, compliments the rest of the ingredients perfectly.
Ingredients & Method
For the cured salmon
- 700g piece of super fresh salmon fillet, skin on and pin bones removed (there will be some weight loss after curing)
- 80g table salt
- 80g caster sugar
- finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
For the pickled seasonal carrots
- 4 large carrots
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 large fresh red chilli, deseeded and cut into thin matchstick (julienne) strips
- 1 star anise
- 1 clove garlic, lightly crushed
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon grated (peeled) fresh root ginger
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 100ml freshly squeezed orange juice
- 100g caster sugar
- 100ml white wine vinegar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 12 fresh borage flowers
- a handful of seasonal baby salad leaves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, for drizzling
To make the cured salmon, rinse the salmon, then pat it dry with kitchen paper. Mix the salt, sugar, orange zest and 2 tablespoons of the dill together and spread half of this mixture over the base of a deep white plastic tray or dish for the salmon to cure in – make sure the length of the fish fits in the dish, as it should remain flat at all times. Place the salmon, skin-side down, on to the salt mixture, then spread the rest of the salt mixture over the salmon. Cover the salmon directly with cling film and then place something heavy directly on to the salmon to weigh it down. Place the salmon in the fridge and leave to cure for 2 days, turning it over each day.
Make the pickled seasonal carrots. Using a mandolin, slice the peeled carrots on an angle into 2mm slices, then place in a dish, sprinkle with the table salt and set aside for 1 hour.
Place the rest of the ingredients for the pickled carrots in a saucepan. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat, bring to the boil and cook for about 10 minutes or until the mixture reduces and becomes syrupy.
Wash the carrots under cold running water to remove the salt and drain. Add the carrots to the boiling syrup, bring back to the boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the carrots cool for a few minutes, then spoon the carrots, syrup and spices into hot, sterilised jars. Cover with vinegar-proof lids and seal. Leave to cool, then label and store in the fridge. Use immediately or store for 1 week before using to let the carrots mature a bit. The unopened jars of pickled carrots should keep well in the fridge for up to 3 months.Once opened, keep in the fridge and use within 1 week. This recipe will make 2 x 200g jars of pickled carrots.
Once the salmon is cured, remove it from the dish and rinse under cold running water, then pat the salmon dry with kitchen paper and place on a clean tray or dish, skin-side down. Cover the flesh side with the remaining dill, then cover with cling film and refrigerate until needed. The cured salmon will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge.
Chill the serving plates for 20 minutes before serving (the chilled plates will help to keep the salmon cool on a hot day). To serve, use a sharp knife to cut the salmon into wafer thin slices – I usually serve about 80–90g of salmon per person. Divide the salmon between the serving plates, laying it flat to cover the base of the plates. Arrange some drained pickled carrots (reserving the pickling liquor), the borage flowers and salad leaves on the plates. Drizzle with the pickling liquor and olive oil and serve.