Food and Drink

For a festive holiday dish that you can make in advance, try beet and pomegranate-cured salmon

Beet and pomegranate-cured salmon

This make-ahead, no-cook cured salmon brings a festive touch to the holiday table. A salt-sugar combo “cooks” the salmon. Keep in mind salt crystal sizes vary, so if using another type of salt than what’s called for here, weigh it first. Raw grated beets add both vibrant color and deep flavor, while a touch of tangy pomegranate molasses — look for bottles of it in the international foods section of your grocery — balances nicely with fresh orange juice and zest. Make up to two days in advance; if cured longer the texture will change from a silky gravlax to a more jerky-like consistency. As to the salmon itself, I’m all for using up freezer salmon but, if available, opt for fresh winter salmon or recently frozen fillets with no freezer burn. Serve as a first course with more grated beet and pomegranate molasses, crème fraîche or yogurt; fried capers; pickled vegetables, and crackers, blini, flatbread or try a savory waffle or potato pancakes. — Kim Sunée

Beet and pomegranate-cured salmon

1 (2-to 2 1/2-pound) fillet skin-on wild salmon, pin bones removed

2 medium red or Chioggia beets (about 1 pound), trimmed and coarsely grated, reserve some for serving

2/3 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or 100g other salt)

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon pink peppercorns (optional)

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1 orange, zest and juice

1/4 cup pomegranate molasses (highly recommended but optional in a pinch), plus more for serving

For serving, yogurt or crème fraiche; fresh dill; horseradish; fried capers; potato pancakes or blini

• Remove pin bones from salmon, rinse briefly under cold water, and pat thoroughly dry with paper or kitchen towels. Place fillet, skin-side down on a rimmed baking sheet or large glass container. Grate beets, reserving about a quarter cup for garnish, and place in a large bowl with salt, sugar, and peppercorns. Remove zest and juice from orange and add to bowl. Stir in pomegranate molasses, if using, and mix to combine. Press beet-sugar-salt mixture evenly over salmon and on both sides of fillet. Fold sides of parchment over salmon and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Place another baking sheet or plate over and set two to three cans of food or equivalent in weight, about 4 pounds, to weigh it down evenly. Chill in fridge at least 30 hours and up to 48 hours in advance. A lot of liquid will be released; discard. When ready to serve, it’s best NOT to rinse — the saltiness will be balanced out with the garnishes. Remove wrap and gently brush off all the cure and discard. Taste a small piece; only if very salty, very quickly rinse under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels before slicing into thin pieces. Serve with more freshly-grated beets and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses and any of the optional serving suggestions. Any uneaten portion can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap up to another day.

Kim Sunée

Kim Sunée is a bestselling author ("Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home," "A Mouthful of Stars," "Everyday Korean: Fresh, Modern Recipes for Home Cooks") and a former magazine food editor. She's based in Anchorage. For more food and travel, visit instagram.com/kimsunee.

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