Last time I was in DC, I made a point to dine at Teaism. If you’re not familiar, it’s a restaurant and tea shop that offers simple tea cuisine, including Japanese bento boxes, Thai curries and Indian tandoor breads. I ordered a bento box. It provided all of the ingredients necessary for makeshift handroll sushi. Tea-cured salmon was the star of the kit. Tea-curing was a new concept for me, something I just had to try for myself when I got back to my kitchen. If you think logistically, it’s basically a variation on gravadlax, but with tea leaves instead of dill. Just imagine the flavor potential tea offers! I tried three very different organic loose leaf teas from Arbor Teas collection: a smokey lapsang souchong black tea, a fragrant jasmine green tea, and a citrusy schizandra berry white tea.
Samples were offered at a brunch that centered around the task of making homemade bagels. Surprisingly, jasmine yielded the most predominant flavor, and was preferred by all who sampled. The lapsang souchong gave a more traditional lox-like option. For something light and different, schizandra berries, found in Arbor Teas’ newest organic loose leaf tea, lent a hint of tangerine. Though salmon is most common, this method of curing can be applied to any fatty fish. One day, I’d like to try it on pork belly to make bacon… If you get to it before me, let me know how it turns out!
1 pound salmon filet, deboned with skin on
1 cup loose leaf tea
½ cup turbinado sugar (granulated will work too)
½ cup kosher salt or flakey sea salt
Mix the tea, salt and sugar in a small bowl. Line a large, non-reactive casserole dish or baking pan with plastic wrap. Pat the salmon filet dry and lay it skin-side down in the pan. Sprinkle the tea-salt-sugar cure mix over the salmon and coat evenly. Fold the edges of the plastic wrap over the salmon (somewhat like a present) to wrap tightly. Use something heavy – about 5-10 pounds – to weigh the salmon down. Refrigerate for 3 days. You must allow up to three days for curing. Remove the salmon from the refrigerator and use cold water to rinse off the cure mixture. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels, then place skin side-down on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, slice the salmon diagonally off the skin. The sliced salmon will keep for about a week in the refrigerator. Layer the slices on sheets of wax paper and store wrapped in plastic.
November 01 2010 01:13 pm | Cooking with Tea