Aaron Craig, head chef of the Brasserie at Rockliffe Hall, has a passion for local produce, and what better to cook with than locally made Durham Gin.
For the pickled lemons:
25ml Chardonnay vinegar
55g caster sugar
For the tonic gel:
225ml tonic water
4g gellan gum F
100g pickled lemon
100ml pickling liquor
For the compressed cucumber:
1 peeled cucumber
1 pinch of salt
25ml olive oil
For the dill mayonnaise:
½ bunch dill
250ml grapeseed oil
30g egg yolk
5g Dijon mustard
250ml grapeseed oil
To make the pickled lemons, slice the lemons finely on a meat sliced or mandolin. Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar, mix in the water and transfer the lemons and liquid to a vacuum bag and leave to pickle for 24 hours.
For the salmon, toast the spices and crush. Blitz the zest, spices, dill and 100g of the sea salt to a coarse consistency in a food processor and transfer to a bowl. Fold through the remaining salt, sugar and gin.
Generously coat the salmon with the cure and leave for 10 hours.
To compress the cucumber, slice along the cucumber into 0.5cm slices, discarding any pieces with seeds. Transfer to a vacuum bag with the olive oil and salt and seal. Rest in the fridge for 2-3 hours before dicing into cubes.
To make the tonic gel, blend the tonic water with the pickled lemon, pickling liquor from the pickled lemons and the water until smooth and pass through a fine sieve. Heat the puree to 85°C and add the gellan, sugar and salt. Blend with a hand blender and transfer to a tray to set in the fridge. Once set blend the gel to a puree consistency and transfer to piping bag.
To make the dill mayonnaise, blitz the dill with the oil until smooth then hang through muslin. Whisk together the egg yolk, vinegar and mustard and slowly drizzle in the dill oil until emulsified. Season to taste.
When ready to serve, rinse the salmon well and dry on kitchen paper. Cut into 1cm dice, discard edges if too salty.
To plate, arrange the salmon pieces in a ring with the cucumber dice and pipe dots of the mayonnaise and gel on top.