Purple Pickled Proteins fit for a Pirate
Sometimes when I’m in the kitchen I feel more like an over-enthusiastic wizard than anything resembling a cook. My curiosity sometimes bumps reason aside and commandeers that ship, I can tell you. And on that pirate ship of curiosity, we sail through some pretty strange terrain. My muse puts on its best captain’s voice and begins to berate me with stream-of-consciousness thoughts:
Aye, lassie, but what about rocks you can eat, eh?
I’ve got hankering that you could turn that big ol hunk of moss into a dainty lemon cake.
Have you ever thought of just making everything blue like this here sea?
Naw, ye and yer flower fairy buds probably prefer dainty wee shades o’ purple don’t ya.
(reflectingly) Though I do love me some o’ them pink pickled eggs that fill up a belly as ones knocking them back fit to be dead in the mornin. Finest hangover cure I’ve ever tried. (and, whispering: I’m gonna need you ta make me a few more o’ them tonight there princess) with a big conspiratorial wink.
Okay, so a judgemental pirate isn’t a voice that appears in my head all that often, but what interesting insight he might have if he did, don’t you agree?
I have a feeling that even the gnarliest pirate in the entire Pacific Northwest could still find some room in his heart for this platter of purple pickled proteins, a glorious proliferation of preserved sustenance flavored with coriander and juniper and pickled in a red cabbage and beetroot brine for color and preservation. Aye, he may scoff at the edible flowers and hipster presentation but when it gets to the meat of the thing, this is a platter a pirate can really enjoy.
On this platter you’ll find cured fish in the gravlax tradition, perfect for long voyages or packed lunches because of its partial preservation in that salty brine. Joining it are pickled eggs, full of healthy omegas and an old-timey bar favorite to quench the hunger of ale-swilling pirates. Slice them all up, add a few flowers and a sprinkling of some fresh herbs or salts, and these rough-and-tumble hearty bites are dressed up for an elegant evening out. (Just don’t tell the pirates where they’ve gone if you want to avoid particularly lewd party crashers.)
Food doesn’t have to be delicate just because it happens to be purple. I promise. Though on the flip side it can definitely be argued that purple food is often just a lot more fun, and I am thoroughly on board (or pirate ship) with that idea. No matter how reserved and masculine your pirates may be, I bet you can tempt them to middle ship with this combination of curious coloration and delicious proliferation. Just one bite and you’ll have won them over, “girly” colors to be embraced as they should be.
Note: I just learned that fuschia flowers are edible, which makes them a delightful garnish here!
Juniper and Coriander Cured Salmon:
2 tsp. Juniper berries
3 tsp. Coriander seeds
1 tsp. peppercorns
1 ½ c. red cabbage, chopped
½ c. orange juice
4 Tbs. gin
¼ medium red onion, diced
1 cup kosher salt
½ c. sugar
1 2-pound boneless salmon filet
Toast the juniper berries, coriander seeds, and peppercorns until fragrant in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring or tossing often. Set aside to cool, then grind in a mortar and pestle.
Add the red cabbage, orange juice, gin, and red onion to a blender or food processor. Blend until the pieces are small and more liquid is released.
Mix together the spices, red cabbage mixture, salt, and sugar.
Lay salmon skin side down in a large glass container. Pour the cure mixture over it so that it is completely covered. Wrap tightly in plastic and refridgerate for 12 hours.
Flip the salmon over, making sure once again it is completely covered. Refridgerate for another 12 hours. Repeat the process until the salmon has been curing for 48 hours.
Remove the salmon from the curing mixture and gently rinse or brush off any remaining salt. Place it on a plate and put it back in the fridge for another 12 hours to firm up.
Serve salmon now, or place back into an airtight container in the fridge to preserve for later.
Purple Pickled Eggs:
12 hard-boiled eggs
1 tsp. Juniper berries
2 tsp. Coriander seeds
1 ½ c. shredded red cabbage
¼ c. finely diced red onion
1 ½ c. white vinegar
½ c. beet juice
2 Tbs. sugar
1 ½ tsp. Sea salt
1 tsp. Baking soda
Put the peeled hard-boiled eggs into clean glass jars.
Toast the juniper berries and coriander seeds in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant, then gently crush in a mortar and pestle.
In a medium saucepan, combine the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Pour the hot mixture over the eggs in the jars, making sure that the eggs are all fully submerged.
Let soak anywhere from overnight to 5 days for the eggs to take on the desired color and flavor of the brine. Gently rinse before serving.
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