A Scandinavian speciality in which salmon fillets are cured in a mixture of salt, sugar, peppercorns and dill. White peppercorns are traditionally used, but I prefer equal quantities of white and black – white for bite and black for flavour.
Scale and wash the fish and cut off the fins. Using a very sharp knife, cut the fish in half lengthways along the backbone. Pull out the backbone and any small bones poking through the flesh.
Mix the sea salt, sugar and crushed peppercorns in a bowl.
Choose a glass or china dish just large enough to hold one of the pieces of fish. Scatter about one quarter of the dill over the bottom of the dish. Place a salmon fillet on top of the dill, skin-side down. Evenly sprinkle with half the salt mixture, massaging it well into the flesh – particularly the thicker areas. Cover with about three-quarters of the remaining dill, arranging it in an even layer. Sprinkle the rest of the salt mixture evenly over the dill. Place the second salmon fillet on top, skin-side up, with the thickest part on top of the thinnest part of the first fillet. Sprinkle the remaining dill on top.
Cover with a thick layer of kitchen foil. Weigh down evenly with a clean brick or a dish (slightly larger than the salmon) containing some heavy weights or food cans.
Leave in the fridge for at least 48 hours or up to 3 days, turning the fish over every 12 hours or so and basting between the layers with the juices that accumulate.
Drain the liquid and scrape off the dill and seasonings. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels.
To serve, place the two halves skin-side down on a serving board. Slice very thinly on the diagonal across the grain, detaching the skin from each slice. Serve with Dill Sauce (see cook’s notes), toast and lemon wedges.
© 2008 Christine McFadden. All rights reserved.