The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.


Cured salmon

This recipe is adapted from Mark Hix’s exemplary and accessible British Seasonal Food; he, in turn, credits Nigel Howarth for its origin. The amounts may be varied; the proportions are more or less constant.

- about 1 lb salmon fillet, trimmed (be careful to ensure that the pinbones are gone; use needlenose pliers if not) but not skinned
- about ½ cup molasses
- generous ½ teaspoon coarsely crushed fennel seeds (an old school mortar and pestle is best for this)
- zest of about ½ lemon
- about ¾ oz coarse salt (like sea salt)
- 1 heaped teaspoon dry mustard (use more or less to taste)
- about 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

  1. Put the salmon skin down on a sheet of plastic wrap big enough to encase the fish.
  2. Heat the molasses in a double boiler or microwave until it thins enough to spread like paint, then add everything else to the pot or bowl and whisk it all together.
  3. Paint the salmon with the molasses cure and wrap it up. It is going to leak no matter how much care you take, so mummify the fish in another layer or two of plastic or use a freezer bag.
  4. Leave the wrapped salmon at room temperature for about an hour, then refrigerate it for at least three days.
  5. Before serving the fish, gently scrape away the debris and pat it dry with some paper towel; you may need more than one pass.
  6. Cut the salmon perpendicular to its skin to a thickness just shy of a quarter inch; you will need to slide the knife carefully along the skin to free the flesh too.
  7. It does not need, or want, lemon or capers; only crackers or buttered brown bread, or alternatively a bed of greens, is permissible.

Fish and Creel


-Do not paint too much of the cure onto the fish or you will create a sloppy mudbath; you need a good even coating but may have a little cure leftover.

-Hix does not specify dry mustard; he simply calls for ‘English mustard’ but in context it seems like he means prepared mustard. That, however, made a gloppier cure and we found that the dry variant worked (and tasted) better.

-We have made the cure with and without the fennel; its inclusion is a matter of taste. Some people find it jarring; we like it.

-Hix cures his salmon for only 48 hours; we like the way the longer time in cure alters the color and texture of the fish. If left even longer, the salmon will become firmer and take on a deepening mahogany tint; very nice.

-For a milder flavor, use any combination of black, white, green and pink peppercorns instead of black pepper alone.

-Hix does not use cayenne.