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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 34 min
  • Prep: 10 min
  • Inactive: 24 min
  • Yield: about 4 dozen hors d'oeuvres
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2 cups kosher salt

Sour cream or cream cheese, optional accompaniment

2 tablespoons cracked black peppercorns

Sieved hard boiled eggs, optional accompaniment

1/2 cup chopped fresh dill

1/2 cup vanilla sugar, recipe follows

2 tablespoons orange zest strips (from 2 oranges)

1 (4 to 4 1/2-pound) side salmon fillet, skin on, pin bones removed, rinsed under cool water, and patted dry

Salmon caviar, optional accompaniment

Minced red onions, optional accompaniment

Chopped parsley, optional accompaniment

Toast points or lightly toasted bagels, optional accompaniment

Vanilla Sugar:

1 vanilla beans, split in 1/2 lengthwise and crosswise

4 cups granulated sugar


  1. Combine the salt, peppercorns, dill, sugar, and zest in a medium-size mixing bowl. Mix well. Lay a piece of plastic wrap twice the size of the salmon on a flat surface. Cross another piece of plastic of the same size over the first piece horizontally. Place the salmon in the center of the pieces of plastic wrap, with the skin side down. Spoon the seasoning mixture over the top and sides of the salmon. Using your fingers, spread the mixture evenly over the salmon. No part of the flesh of the fish should be exposed. With the palm of your hand, gently press the mixture into the salmon. Fold the 2 pieces of plastic wrap very tightly around the salmon, folding in the ends securely. Wrap the salmon a second time with another large piece of plastic. Place the wrapped salmon in shallow glass baking dish. Top the salmon with another baking dish. Place 2 heavy cans or 2 clean, wrapped bricks on the baking sheet to weight the salmon. Refrigerate for 24 to 30 hours, depending upon the thickness of the fish. Remove from the refrigerator and unwrap the salmon carefully. Discard the wrap and scrape off the seasoning mixture. Rinse the salmon under cold water to remove the seasoning mixture. Pat dry. To serve, remove 2 inches from the tail of the salmon. Slice the salmon, at an angle, into paper-thin slices. Serve with accompaniments.

Vanilla Sugar:

  1. In a large container with an airtight closure, place 1/2 of the sugar. Add the bean quarters and cover with the remaining 2 cups of sugar. Close tightly. Place in a cool, dark place. Twice a day shake the container to distribute the vanilla essence. Continue the process for at least 1 week and up to 3 weeks. Replace the sugar as it is used.