1.2 kilogram side of salmon, skinned, pin bones removed
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon each caraway seeds and aniseed
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
fine zest of 1 lemon
6 tablespoons each sugar and sea salt
2 tablespoons brandy or vodka
500 grams asparagus, tough ends snapped off
800 grams small waxy potatoes, scrubbed
1 cup flat-leaf parsley
½ cup other soft herb: either basil, dill or chervil
2 tablespoons capers
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Salmon: Lightly toast the seeds in a dry sauté pan then grind in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Tip into a bowl and use your fingers to rub in the pepper, thyme, zest, sugar and salt. Add the brandy and stir to resemble wet sand.
Line a tray with plastic wrap. Sprinkle half the cure over the salmon and place on the tray, cure side down. Sprinkle the remaining cure over the other side, patting it into the flesh. Cover with plastic wrap and place another tray or board on top. Weight with something heavy such as tins of tomatoes. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
The longer the salmon is left in the cure the firmer the flesh becomes.
Salad: Blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water until al dente. Lift out and cool immediately in iced water. Drain and pat dry with kitchen towels. Don’t leave in the iced water too long otherwise the skin starts to peel off. Add the potatoes to the same pot and cook until tender. Drain and cool.
Dressing: Chop the herbs, capers, garlic and the mustard in a food processor until fine. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil then add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
To serve: Scrape the cure off the salmon and wipe with a damp kitchen towel. Slice thinly with a very sharp knife. Peel and slice the potatoes and toss with a couple of tablespoons of the dressing.
Lay the asparagus on a platter and scatter the potatoes on top. Arrange the salmon over the potatoes.
Garnish with lemon wedges and extra herbs. Pass the remaining dressing in a separate bowl and serve with a dark rye bread and good butter.