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Chef's recipe: Citrus Cured Salmon with Warm Potato Salad

The salmon in this dish makes it a healthier choice

laura leyshon The Globe and Mail

I spent part of my youth in living in Sweden, studying, playing hockey (I think the Canucks can use my help about now on their penalty kill) and trying some of the most amazing food in the world. It was one of the places that set me on the right track for my food and wine adventure. (Thirty years later, I'm still going.)

I lived right on the ocean in Gothenburg, where many of the activities involved food. In the winter it was ice fishing; in the fall we harvested chanterelles just 50 metres from our house; and in the summer was one of my favourites - the crayfish festival.

One of things I love about Swedes is how clean and simple they eat. I had some of the best food of my life there and that simplicity stuck with me and influenced my style. Simplicity is much more difficult to achieve than complicated cooking.

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The recipe I am sharing with you is a perfect example (but don't worry - I've made it even simpler). In Sweden, we know it as Gravlox, a Viking method of preserving fish. Why I like it is that it focuses on the purity of the fish as it is cooked by the salt and sugar and citrus; the true natural flavour remains intact.

The other part of the dish is a warm potato salad, another Swedish spring and summer staple. They had the best new potatoes, served just lightly steamed. The balance between the vinaigrette and the dill cream makes it a magical dish. Just do not overcure your fish. And when reheating the salmon, remember that it takes just minutes to warm - and that is all you are trying to do.

Make sure you serve this with a nice cold glass of vodka or a nice crisp sauvignon blanc. Some toasted bread would be a great addition as well. Enjoy.

Citrus Cured Salmon with Warm Potato Salad and Horseradish Grainy Mustard Vinaigrette

Salmon Cure

Ingredients

3 lemons, zested and finely grated

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3 limes, zested and finely grated

3 oranges, zested and finely grated

1 1/4 cups coarse salt

1 cup sugar

1 filet of salmon (steelhead is best)

Method

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Mix the citrus, salt and sugar thoroughly together. Lay the salmon with the flesh side up on a baking tray. Coat the flesh with the citrus cure, packing it until about 1/8 to ¼ inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator for 12 hours.

After 12 hours (no longer), rinse the cure off and pat dry. Using a sharp knife, slice the salmon into 1-inch thick slices on an angle and set aside.

Horseradish Grainy Mustard Vinaigrette

Ingredients

3/4 tablespoon grainy mustard

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup horseradish

½ tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey

I cup sunflower or canola oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

Black pepper to taste

Method

Combine all ingredients together, except for the oil, and salt and pepper. Mix together with a hand blender.

Slowly add oil and continue to mix until fully incorporated and emulsified.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Potato Salad

5 pounds baby white nugget potatoes

Chicken stock

Pinch of saffron (made into a tea with hot water)

Olive oil

Method

Wash potatoes well and cut into 3/8-inch thick rounds. Place in a pot with enough chicken stock or water to cover potatoes. Add saffron tea.

Bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer until tender. Check doneness; there should be a little resistance when pierced with a paring knife.

Strain and cool on a baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.

Dijon Dill Mayonnaise

Ingredients

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons chopped dill

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Method

Mix all ingredients together until well combined.

Plating

Heat sliced salmon on a parchment-lined baking sheet until just warm; salmon should be blue rare. Dress potatoes with horseradish vinaigrette and place in the centre of a plate. Place salmon and drizzle with Dijon dill mayo in a zigzag pattern. Toss micro cilantro with lemon juice and place on top to garnish.

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