There are endless ways to cure Norwegian salmon, gravlaks is a classic way to do so across Scandinavia but I love this seasonal twist with a little whisky in the cure. Norwegian Linie Aquavit can be found from Amathus Drinks.
The key to this dish is a very fresh fillet of Norwegian salmon. If in doubt, freeze the fillet for 24 hours to kill any bacteria, then defrost.
This recipe makes enough for 12 starters or 6-8 larger portions. You can double this for festive occasions, two Norwegian salmon fillets will feed about 20-24 people and make a great party standby
Cured Norwegian salmon
Dry the salmon, check for pinbones and then place both fillet pieces side by side, skin down. Crush the pink pepper, coriander, juniper and allspice berries with a pestle and mortar and then mix in a small bowl with the whisky, sugar and salt. Spread the spiced sugar and salt in a layer on top of the fillet. Sandwich both fillet halves together. Wrap very tightly in two layers of clingfilm and place in a small roasting tin to catch the brine that escapes the fish as it cures. Refrigerate for a minimum of 48 hours and up to 5 days if you want a stronger cure.
When the salmon has had time to cure, simply take it out of the fridge, remove the clingfilm, wipe the fillet halves clean of the spiced salt with a paper towel, pat dry and put on a board, skin down. Slice on the diagonal from the tail towards the middle of the fillet and serve.
Rye & sour cream pannekaker
To make the little rye pancakes, in a medium sized bowl mix the flours with the yeast, sour cream and 50ml of the milk (you may need more milk later as the rye and spelt flours are hygroscopic and will thicken the mixture over time). Cover and set aside for an hour or until the mixture starts to bubble and double in size. In the meantime place the sugar and the vinegar in a small saucepan along with 75ml water and bring to a simmer, allowing the sugar to fully dissolve. Remove from the heat, cool and then add the thinly sliced fennel to this mixture and cover. Set aside to pickle while you finish the pancakes.
Add the beaten eggs, melted butter, baking powder and sea salt to the bowl with the flours, yeast and sour cream. Stir thoroughly and prepare a skillet with a little oil over a medium heat. Start frying small pancakes for a minute or so before flipping each one over. They should look dry around the edges and bubble slightly in the skillet. If in doubt, test the batter with one small pancake – if the pancake is too liquid you can always add a little more spelt flour, if it’s too dense then simply dilute with a little water or milk.
Once you’ve fried all the pancakes, set them to one side and allow to cool completely before assembling the salmon slices on each piece, followed by a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche, a curl of pickled fennel and a sprinkle of wild fennel pollen. Eat immediately with a shot of Linie aquavit to wash it all down.