Citrus Marinated Salmon

Citrus Marinated Salmon
I think I’ve found my new favorite way of preparing salmon.  I might be biased, as I love raw fish, but man, this dish is so incredibly good.  I really think it’s my new favorite dish for potlucks or dinner parties.  It’s got all the elements of perfect entertaining food: it’s easy to make, relatively inexpensive, can serve quite a few people, and looks stunning when presented.

Oh, did I mention that it tastes absolutely phenomenal?  And that it’s a Thomas Keller recipe?

Similar to gravlax, this salmon is marinated in coarse sea salt, sugar, white pepper, and zest from a bounty of citrus fruits overnight. What results is a beautiful citrus-infused salmon tartare, which pairs beautifully with potato blinis and greens with citrus vinaigrette.

Citrus Marinated Salmon
Serves 8-10
1/2 cup coarse salt (I used sea salt)
1/4 tsp freshly-ground white pepper
1/2 cup sugar
1 salmon filet, skin removed – (around 2 lbs)
1 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
1 1/2 tsp grated lime zest
1 1/2 tsp grated grapefruit zest

Note:  you can make this dish with a smaller piece of salmon if you want.  According to Thomas Keller, allow 1 hour of marination time for every 1/4 inch thickness of fish.

Note2: I took a risk and did not use sushi grade salmon (I just bought a filet of Norwegian farm-raised salmon from Costco).  In order to be absolutely safe, it’s best to buy salmon that is as fresh a possible or buy sushi grade salmon.  According to my brief research on the FDA website, farm-raised salmon do have a much lower incidence of parasites compared to wild-caught salmon because their diets are controlled (assuming they are fed a diet of normal pelleted feed).  However, the best way to ensure parasites are not present is to freeze the salmon at -4 degrees F (-20 degrees C) for 7 days.  The cold temperatures kill the parasites.

Combine salt, pepper, sugar, and zest in a bowl and mix well.
Salt citrus mix
Spread out half of the mixture on a piece of foil large enough to cover the entire fish!
Salt citrus bottom
Place salmon on salt mixture.
salmon + salt citrus
Cover the other side with the remaining salt mixture.
salmon covered in salt citrus
Fold aluminum foil over fish and place another pan directly on top.
Place weights of some sort (I used some cartons of cream and Pace Picante sauce) – on top to press on the salmon filet.  This helps extract liquid and compact the flesh.
salmon weighted down
Refrigerate overnight (or for at least 8 hours if you have a 2-inch filet).
Remove salmon from marinade (a lot of liquid will have come out).  Rinse under cold water and pat dry.
marinated salmon
Slice thinly at a shallow angle to maximize their width.
sliced salmon
Place three slices on top of a potato blini and garnish with a small handful of garden greens tossed with citrus vinaigrette.

Stay tuned Click on the text for the potato blinis recipe and the garden greens salad dressing recipe, which will come tomorrow.

Salmon Potato Blini 2

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  1. says

    Hi Joy – that is absolutely not a problem. I actually have a small confession to make. I only had grapefruit and oranges, so that’s all I used! I did add a splash or two of lime juice just in case, but I actually think it doesn’t matter too much!

  2. Katie says

    A little tip from a professional chef: prepare the gravlax before freezing it! This minimizes the risk of parasites and bacteria -as you pointed out- AND helps maintaining the structure of the salmon. Furthermore, it’s really easy (even for an amateur) to cut the fish in really, really thin slices, if you don’t let it fully thaw before slicing it.

    I live in Scandinavia (Finland, to be precise) and gravlax is an everyday thing here. I personally use Norwegian farm-raised salmon and I’ve never had any problem with the quality. Then again, Norway is a next-door neighbor, so it’s always guaranteed fresh.

    Btw, I totally love your blog! Keep up the good work!

  3. says

    When I saw this on TasteSpotting, I just assumed you bought Nova or Lox, and made a nice potato cake. I love that you did it at home, and it does seem to be so much easier than one would think. I love this-awesome post!

  4. says

    Ah, I’m inspired! I’ve had something similar to this at restaurants and it would be such a tasty treat to be able to make at home! Beautiful plating and colors. Would be great with a blood orange citrus salad (I got a bunch on sale, so putting them in everything).

  5. says

    Katie – thanks for the tip! I was personally wondering whether it was possible to marinate it first and then freeze it. This sounds like a great thing to have on hand. Defrost small amounts to eat on a regular basis. YUM!

  6. says

    Just found your site for the first time via TasteSpotting. Love the way you swirled the salmon slices on the blini – the presentation reminds me of how some sushi chefs make “roses” out of raw fish for sashimi platters. I’ve been wanting to try making gravlax since I read a recipe years ago. You’ve inspired me to give it a shot! Lovely blog, by the way.

  7. says

    I have a question…I live in Alaska and we catch our own salmon every summer and freeze it to use throughout the winter. Is it possible to do this recipe with salmon already frozen or do I need to unthaw first, marinate and refreeze?

  8. says

    Dana – this is my first time making gravlax, so I’m not positive of the answer. If you check out Katie’s comment earlier in the post (she’s a professional chef!), it seems like you can marinate the fish before you freeze it. Then, you can freeze, thaw it later, and eat it straight away, already flavored! My intuition is that you need to add the flavoring agents when the fish is not frozen solid in order to allow the flavors to infuse, but I’m open to any one more experienced with this to comment!

  9. Katie says


    I really don’t recommend refreezing any fish, unless you cook it welldone in between.

    Worst case scenario is a food poisoning, since fish is a lovely playground for nasty bacteria.

    Marinate the fish when it’s as fresh as possible and when it’s ready pack it airtight in plastic wrap and pop it the freezer. Then you’ll have gravlax ready whenever you need it!

  10. Ben says

    I’ve just bought frozen salmon and am just wondering if it is possible to do the recipe with it. I know I should not thaw it and then refreeze it but can I just marinate the frozen salmon and do the recipe..?

  11. says

    Hi Ben, I’m guessing the won’t absorb the flavors very well if it’s frozen. What about thawing it, doing the recipe, and then eating it? There should not be a need to refreeze the fish if you eat it right after preparation.

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