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Salmon - Tea Cured

A variation on gravadlax, but with tea leaves instead of dill. You must allow up to three days for curing

Ingredients

Ingredients for 8 people:

- 1 Salmon tail-end, weighing about 1kg (ask your fishmonger to scale the fish, and divide it in two fillets - your won't need the back bone)

- 5 tablespoons (75ml) Sea Salt

- 2 tablespoons light Muscovado Sugar

- 1 tablespoon (15ml) freshly ground Black Pepper

- 1 tablespoon Szechuan Pepper, crushed

- 2-3 tablespoons Mirin, Sake or Rice Wine (Fino or dry Amontillado Sherry would make a good substitute)

- 4-5 (60-75ml) Lapsang Souchong, Oolong, Jasmin or other distinctive tea leaves

To serve:

- A little Mayonnaise, mixed with Wasabi and shredded pickled Ginger (optional)

Method

1. Remove any stray bones, which might lurk along the centre of the fillets, with tweezers.

2. Mix the salt, sugar, peppers and rice wine.

3. Spread a tablespoon of tea leaves in the bottom of a rectangular (non-aluminium) dish, big enough to take the piece of fish.

4. Spoon three tablespoons of marinade over the leaves, and lay one piece of fish on top, skin side down.

5. Spread the rest of the mixture on the flesh side of each fillet of salmon and sandwich the two together with plenty of tea leaves between.

6. The remaining salt and pepper mixture should be spread on the skin side of the top fillet, with the remaining tea leaves sprinkled on top.

7. Cover with cling film, weight down and refrigerate for two or three days - turning the fish over about half-way through.

To serve: scrape off the curing ingredients, and drain off the liquid, and slice the salmon - as if slicing smoked salmon rather thickly.

Accompany it with mayonnaise flavoured with lime juice and zest, a little Japanese Waasabi paste (which is very hot) and some shredded pickled ginger.

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