Pepper Salmon with Tabouli Salad


Cured salmon makes a lovely appetizer. This technique, from Executive Chef Cal Stamenov of Bernardus Lodge, is really quite simple, featuring thin slices of tender salmon atop a bed of tabouli (a great recipe in its own right). For a cocktail party, serve the pepper salmon on buttered toast triangles, garnish with a sprig of dill or a few capers, and you have delectable hors d'oeuvres.


2 tablespoons whole star anise pods (ground)
2 cups kosher or sea salt
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 fresh salmon fillet, 2 to 2-1/2 pounds (skin on, pin bones removed)
  Freshly ground black pepper
1 10-ounce box couscous
  Juice of 3 whole limes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cucumber (diced)
2 large tomatoes (diced)
1 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  Salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne pepper (to taste)
  extra-virgin olive oil (as garnish)


Pepper Salmon: In a small spice grinder, finely grind the star anise. Combine with the salt and brown sugar, and blend completely.

Spread 1 cup of the salt mixture in a large shallow pan big enough to hold the salmon fillet. Place the salmon, skin down, over the bed of salt. Cover the top of the salmon with the remaining salt mixture and spread evenly over the entire fillet. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

After 48 hours, rinse the salmon with cold water to remove the salt. Dry the fillet with paper towels.

Cover the top of the fish with freshly ground black pepper. At this point, the cured salmon can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Tabbouleh Salad: Prepare the couscous according to the package directions.

In a large bowl combine the cooked couscous with the lime juice and olive oil. Add the cucumber, tomato, and herbs, and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add cayenne pepper if desired.

To serve: Transfer the tabbouleh to a large platter. Thinly slice the cured pepper salmon and arrange on top of the salad. Garnish with drops of olive oil.


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