Cranberry & Orange Cured Salmon

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Homemade cranberry & orange cured salmon, served with sour cream scones & a dill cream cheese. A super simple Christmas starter!

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cranberry & orange cured salmon

If you’re after an incredibly simple yet delicious starter to serve this Christmas, this is the perfect recipe! Here, we’re making our own cured salmon and serving it with a batch of quick & easy sour cream scones plus a tangy dill cream cheese. This one’s suprisingly easy to make & is sure to impress!

If you’re after more Christmas recipes, take a look at the Christmas section of the blog!

Curing Salmon

Curing was traditionally used to preserve food when refrigeration wasn’t available but is still used in modern cooking to improve the texture & flavour of various meat & fish. It also provides an opportunity to add extra flavour!

In this recipe, we’re curing our salmon in a mix of sea salt, light brown sugar, cranberries, sherry, orange & dill. The result is a perfectly cured piece of fish with a meatier texture & a sweet, slightly salty flavour. Sliced super thin, this stuff is hard to beat!

What You’ll Need

Cranberry & Orange Cured Salmon

  • Salmon Fillet (500g)
    For the best results, the piece of salmon should be cut from the middle of the fillet, where the size & shape is more even. The skin should be left on & any bones removed with tweezers.
  • Cranberries (200g fresh, 150g juice)
    For best results, fresh cranberries should be used. These are cooked with the juice, to make a puree.
  • Maldon Salt (125g)
    For the best flavour & texture, the amount of both the salt & sugar is 25% of the salmon’s weight. Using a good sea salt like Maldon makes the best cure.
  • Light Brown Sugar (125g)
    Using light brown sugar adds a deeper, slightly caramelised flavour. Feel free to use caster sugar instead, if you’d prefer.
  • Sherry (20g)
    Adds a touch of sweetness & fruitiness to our cure. Vodka could be used instead or it can be left out completely.
  • Orange Zest (2 Oranges)
    Using the zest from two oranges adds a good amount of flavour without being overpowering.
  • Finely Chopped Dill (1tsp)
    Dill is commonly used to make gravlax which makes it the perfect flavouring for our salmon.
cranberry & orange cured salmon cure

Sour Cream Scones

  • Plain Flour (250g)
    Using plain flour makes soft, tender scones.
  • Baking Powder (2 tsp)
  • Bicarbonate Of Soda (¼ tsp)
    The raising agents in our scones. As we are using sour cream, a small amount of bicarbonate of soda is used to help the scones rise.
  • Table Salt (½ tsp)
    Used to add flavour. Make sure to use fine table salt.
  • Unsalted Butter (120g)
    Using cold, unsalted butter makes rich, flaky scones.
  • Sour Cream (150ml)
    Using sour cream adds flavour & improves the texture, thanks to the added fat.
  • Large Egg (1)
    We only need one egg for this recipe. Make sure it’s a large one!
  • Milk (1 tbsp)
    Brushing milk on top of the scones before baking gives them a shiny finish.
  • Sesame Seeds (1 tsp)
    Topping the scones with sesame seeds adds crunch, flavour & colour. Feel free to use a different seed or leave them off if you’d prefer.
sour cream scones

Dill Cream Cheese

  • Cream Cheese (165g)
    For the best flavour, use full fat cream cheese. I like to use Philadelphia.
  • Lemon Juice (1 tbsp)
    Lemon goes great with fish so we’re adding a spoonful to our cream cheese.
  • Finely Chopped Dill (2 tsp)
    Using two teaspoons of dill adds just the right amount of flavour. Make sure to chop it nice & fine.

To Serve

  • Capers
    Any brined (not salted) capers can be used. Make sure to drain the brine/vinegar off before using.
  • Rapeseed/Olive Oil
    A drizzle of oil over the cured salmon gives a nice finish. Either rapeseed or olive oil will work.
  • Lemon Wedges
    Lemon & salmon is a classic combo!

The full, printable recipe card can be found at the bottom of this post!

How To Make Cranberry & Orange Cured Salmon

Step 1 – Cranberry Puree

Before making the cure, we need to first make a cranberry puree. To do this, we take fresh cranberries & cranberry juice then cook them over a low heat until soft. This is then blitzed until smooth in a jug blender then left to cool completely.

cranberry puree

Step 2 – Making The Cure

To make the cure, we mix together the cranberry puree with sea salt, light brown sugar, orange zest & finely chopped dill.

cranberry & orange fish cure

Step 3 – Curing The Salmon

Next, we pour half of the cure into a large container then place the salmon on top, flesh side down. The rest of the cure is then poured over the salmon, to cover completely. We then cover the container with clingflim & refrigerate for 24 hours.

For an even cure, the piece of salmon should have a uniform thickness. If the belly side is a little thin, trim it down slightly.

cranberry & orange cured salmon

Step 4 – Flip The Salmon Over

After the salmon has been curing for 24 hours, we need to flip it over so that it’s sitting skin side down in the cure. Make sure the salmon is still covered in cure then return it to the fridge for another 24 hours.

Step 5 – Rinse The Cure Off

After two days, the salmon will be cured! Before eating though, we need to rinse the cure off under cold water then pat it dry. To distribute the cure through the salmon before slicing, we then leave it in the fridge overnight, in an airtight container. The salmon can be eaten straight away but you might find that the outer parts might be a bit saltier than the centre.

cranberry & orange cured salmon
Salmon after curing for two days…

How To Make Sour Cream Scones

These scones are super easy to make & the dough comes together in a matter of minutes!

Step 1 – Making The Dough

First, we sieve plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda & salt into a large mixing bowl then add in cold unsalted butter that has been diced. We then rub the butter into the flour by hand until the mix resembles breadcrumbs but with some larger chunks of butter still visible.

Next, we whisk sour cream & an egg together then add to the flour. We then mix the dough by hand until a rough dough forms.

Step 2 – Shaping

The dough is then transferred to a lightly floured surface & shaped into a ball. Next, we press the dough down into a 20 cm wide circle then cut into 8 evenly sized triangles with a sharp knife.

We then transfer the scones to a lined baking & chill in the fridge before baking. This makes them rise better in the oven & gives a flakier texture.

Step 3 – Baking

Before baking, we brush a thin layer of milk over each scone then top with sesame seeds. This gives the scones a crunchy, shiny finish!

To cook, bake for 16-18 minutes in an oven that has been preheated to 200°c/180°c fan (392°f/356°f) then transfer to a cooling rack & leave to cool completely.

Dill Cream Cheese

This dill flavoured cream cheese is super easy to make & goes really well with the cured salmon & sour cream scones! To make, mix cream cheese & lemon together until smooth, either in a stand mixer or by hand then stir in finely chopped dill, salt & pepper.

The cream cheese should then be stored in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. To get a clean rocher/scoop of cream cheese, use a spoon dipped in hot water…

How To Slice Cured Salmon

Cured salmon is best served sliced really thinly so a sharp knife is key here! To slice the salmon, cut at an angle down to the skin (but not through) then turn your knife slightly to cut the slice off the skin.

If any of your salmon slices have a thin layer of brown fat at the bottom, trim this off. This is the fat line & although it is edible, removing it improves the presentation.

cranberry & orange cured salmon

Equipment Used

Please note that these are affiliate links & I may make a small commission if you make a purchase using these links, at no extra cost to you. For more information, click here.

More Christmas Recipes To Try!

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Cranberry & Orange Cured Salmon

Homemade cranberry & orange cured salmon, served with sour cream scones & a dill cream cheese. A super simple Christmas starter!
Prep Time1 hour
Curing Time2 days 12 hours
Total Time2 days 13 hours
Course: Appetizer, Starter
Cuisine: Nordic
Servings: 8 People
Author: Ben Racey

Equipment

  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Jug Blender
  • Large Container
  • Baking Tray
  • Stand Mixer
  • Cooling Rack

Ingredients

Cured Salmon

  • 200 g Fresh Cranberries
  • 150 g Cranberry Juice
  • 500 g Piece Of Salmon Fillet Skin On, Bones Removed – See Notes
  • 125 g Maldon Sea Salt
  • 125 g Light Brown Sugar
  • 20 g Sherry
  • 2 Oranges, Zested
  • 1 tbsp Finely Chopped Dill

Sour Cream Scones

  • 250 g Plain Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • ¼ tsp Bicarbonate Of Soda
  • ½ tsp Table Salt
  • 120 g Unsalted Butter Chilled & Diced
  • 150 ml Sour Cream Cold
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 tbsp Milk To Brush On Top Of Scones
  • 1 tsp Sesame Seeds White, Black Or A Mix Of Both

Dill Cream Cheese

  • 165 g Cream Cheese
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 tsp Finely Chopped Dill

To Serve

  • Capers Drained
  • Rapeseed Or Olive Oil
  • Lemon Wedges

Instructions

Cured Salmon

  • Place the fresh cranberries & cranberry juice into a saucepan then cook over a low heat until soft. This will take roughly 5-10 minutes.
  • Let the cranberries cool slightly then blitz in a jug blender until smooth. Leave to cool completely then transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the salt, sugar, sherry, orange zest & dill into the bowl then mix to combine.
  • Next, tip half the cure into a large container (see notes) then place the salmon in, flesh side down.
    Make sure all of the salmon flesh is coming in to contact with the cure.
  • Tip over the rest of the cure, making sure to cover the salmon completely then cover the container with clingfilm & leave in the fridge for 24 hours.
  • The next day, take the salmon out of the fridge & flip it over so that it's now sitting skin side down in the container.
  • Make sure that the salmon is still completely covered in cure then cover the container with clingfilm & refrigerate for another 24 hours.
  • The next day, take the salmon out of the cure & rinse under cold water. Pat dry with kitchen roll/paper towel then place the salmon into an airtight container & refrigerate overnight before slicing*.
    *An overnight chill helps distribute the cure through the salmon although it can be eaten straight away.

Sour Cream Scones

  • Preheat an oven to 200°c/180°c fan (392°f/356°f).
  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper then set aside.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda & salt into a large mixing bowl then add in the diced butter.
  • Using your hands, rub the butter into the flour until the mix resembles breadcrumbs but with some large pieces still visible.
  • Next, crack the egg into a separate bowl then add in the sour cream. Beat together with a fork then add into the flour.
  • Mix into a rough dough with a spatula or your hands then tip out onto a lightly floured work surface.
  • Shape the dough into a ball then press down with your hands to make a 20cm wide circle.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 triangles, place them onto the lined baking tray then chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  • Brush the top of each scone with milk then sprinkle over the sesame seeds.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 16-18 minutes, until a deep, golden brown then transfer to a cooling rack & leave to cool completely.

Dill Cream Cheese

  • Place the cream cheese & lemon juice into the bowl of a stand mixer.
  • Using the paddle attachment, mix until smooth then add in the chopped dill, salt & pepper then stir to combine.
  • Transfer to a bowl & store in the fridge until needed.

Slicing The Salmon

  • Using a sharp knife, cut the salmon at an angle into thin slices.
    When slicing the salmon, cut down to the skin (but not through it) then turn your knife slightly to cut the slice off the skin. If there's any brown fat on the bottom of your salmon slices, trim this off.

To Serve

  • Arrange slices of salmon onto plates, sprinkle over a few capers then drizzle over some rapeseed/olive oil. Add a spoonful of dill cream cheese, a lemon wedge & a scone to each plate then serve.

Notes

1. Salmon – For this recipe, you’ll need a 500 gram piece of salmon, preferably taken from the centre of the fillet where the shape will be more even. The skin should be kept on but any bones should be removed with tweezers.
2. Sherry – If you haven’t got any sherry, you could use vodka instead. Alternatively, leave it out completely for an alcohol free version.
3. Container For Curing – The container that you use to cure the salmon in should just be big enough for it to fit in. Using too big a container means that the salmon won’t come into contact with enough cure. I used a large pyrex dish when making this recipe.
4. Storage – Once removed from the cure, the salmon should be eaten within 3 days. Once baked, the scones will keep for 3 days when kept in an airtight container and the cream cheese will keep for 3 days in the fridge.
5. Cooking Scones In An Aga – To cook the scones in an Aga, place them in the roasting oven, on the bottom set of runners & cook for 16-18 minutes.
6. Capers – Before using, capers should be drained from the brine/vinegar they are stored in.

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