Dill and salmon are a classic pair. Use the freshest fish you can find--wild Pacific Northwest salmon is in season now--for this hors d'oeuvre based on the Swedish dish gravlax. The salt draws moisture from the fish as a way to preserve it; much of the sodium drains off with the liquid. It takes three days to cure, but the results are well worth the effort. Here, the cured fish is served with cucumber salad, but you can also serve it with crackers or baguette slices.
2/3 cup chopped fresh dill
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
1 (3-pound) salmon fillet, cut in half crosswise
1 1/2 cups shredded peeled beets (about 2 medium)
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Fresh dill sprigs
How to Make It
To prepare salmon, combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle one-third of dill mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Arrange 1 salmon half, skin-side down, on dill mixture. Combine one-third of dill mixture and beets in a small bowl; spread over salmon. Top with remaining salmon half, skin-side up. Spread remaining dill mixture evenly over salmon. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Place a cast-iron skillet or other heavy object on top of salmon to weigh it down; refrigerate 24 hours.
Remove skillet; set aside. Uncover salmon; carefully turn salmon stack over. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Place skillet on top of salmon, and refrigerate 24 hours. Repeat procedure one more time.
To prepare salad, place cucumbers in a colander; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt. Toss well. Drain in sink 1 hour. Place cucumbers on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 5 minutes, pressing down occasionally. Combine cucumbers, vinegar, and remaining ingredients except dill sprigs. Cover and chill 1 hour or up to 4 hours, stirring occasionally; drain well.
Scrape off and discard beet and salt mixtures from salmon. Discard liquid. Cut salmon into (1/8-inch-thick) slices; discard skin. Serve with salad. Garnish with dill sprigs, if desired.