Brian Morton’s Beetroot Cured Salmon

(Saumon Tchernakova – but as yet untasted (here at least) by the dedicatee!)

Need: salmon tail, or thinnish (not too) pieces;
vinegar and/or lemon juice;
a shallot;
clove of garlic;
vodka (optional but very good);
salt/pepper; to serve: dill;
sour cream/creme fraiche

Boil the beetroots whole and then mash them down in the cooking water, which should have a drop of vinegar, chopped shallot, smashed garlic, vodka, half the dill (or just the stalks) 1/2 teaspoon salt and some pepper added.
Strain the juice off, taste and add lemon/salt/pepper to taste.
Then when still warm but not hot, immerse the salmon tail or pieces in.
Refrigerate when cool for two hours.
To serve: remove and drain, then slice through each piece at an acute angle, revealing pink centre and red exterior.
Serve with sour cream, chopped dill, raw red onion or shallot; frisee salad

Salmon confit

Need: fillets of salmon (NOT darnes on the bone) or trout;
olive oil or flavoured oil (lemon/chili);
bunch of tarragon, or dill, salt, lemon juice;
thermometer or guesswork

Put all the tarragon and plenty oil in a blender and whiz till fine.
Meantime, lightly salt the salmon pieces (still with skin on bottom) and sprinkle them with lemon juice.
Then, while salmon sits, strain the oil, ideally through a bit of muslin or fine sieve.
Shake excess salt and lemon juice from each piece of salmon and immerse in strained oil for two hours, or a bit more.
When ready, take out salmon and WARM oil to 43 C.
When temperature reached put salmon back in oil and keep temperature steady for about 5 to 7 minutes.
Take out, drain on paper and serve as required; fish is neither ‘raw’ nor ‘cooked’ – looks the former, but tastes closer to the latter, and it should have the aroma of the oil in it.
ALTERNATIVELY, if no kitchen thermometer, warm the oil in a pan till you can feel it with a finger tip get hotter than blood heat.
Then pour over the fish in a bowl which is standing in larger bowl of boiling water, but off the heat – works just as well.
If the fish goes opaque very quickly, it’s too hot. It should ideally look ‘different’ but not cooked – the marinade makes the connective tissue break down and changes the texture, which is soft AND flaky.
We’re addicted to it at the moment, which given that Loch Striven salmon is cheaper than mince, is a mercy.

(I once made it ‘three ways’, with a portion of confit, a portion of minced raw salmon and a little piece deep fried in tempura batter, plus trimmings)