Bali Hai’s Asian Cured Salmon

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Recipe from Ben Lieberman, executive chef, Bali Hai

2230 Shelter Island Dr., Shelter Island 


Opened in 1955 by San Diego restaurateur Tom Ham on Shelter Island, Bali Hai was named after the song popularized by the musical “South Pacific.” The iconic restaurant has been family owned and operated for more than five decades. Ham’s original vision continues through his daughter Susie Baumann, her husband Larry and sons Grant, Andy and Tommy, who spearheaded a complete renovation of the venue in 2010. 



Ben Lieberman, the new executive chef of Bali Hai, has developed a Pacific Rim-style summer menu for the landmark waterfront restaurant, capitalizing on farm-fresh regional ingredients. His dedication to simple, clean flavors is evidenced in his take on Asian Cured Salmon, an ideal treat for large summer parties or picnics, which he uses in the restaurant’s Asian Cured Salmon and Beet Salad. This is a dish that is ultra impressive and delicious, yet easy to make. 

Bali Hai’s Asian Cured Salmon

Serves 15-20


1/2 cup sake

4 lemongrass stocks

6 Kaffir lime leaves

1 cup shallots

1/2 cup ginger

1/2 cup coriander seed

1/2 cup star anise

1/4 cup Szechwan peppercorn

1/2 cup fennel seed

1/2 cup white peppercorn

2 cups kosher salt

2 cups granulated sugar

1 side fresh salmon (skin off), approx. 4-5 lbs.


1. In a food processor, puree the first five ingredients into a paste.

2. Toast all five spices in the oven at 350 degrees F. for about 7 minutes to release their natural oils. Let cool slightly and then grind them into a powder.

3. Mix the ground spices with the vegetable puree and the salt and sugar. 

4. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and spread half of the mixture alongside the length of the side of salmon. Place the salmon down and top with the remaining mixture. Wrap the salmon up as tight as possible with several layers of plastic wrap. Put the wrapped salmon fillet on a cookie sheet with another cookie sheet on top and weigh it down in the refrigerator. 

5. After 24 hours, turn the salmon onto the other side and replace the weight. After another 24 hours, the salmon will be finished curing. Remove the plastic wrap and rinse off the cure. Pat dry and slice as thin as possible. 

6. Serve plain with a simple garnish, or on top of a salad of mixed greens with beets and balsamic vinaigrette dressing (as photographed); also as an appetizer with a savory whipped cream (minus the sugar) with wasabi. 




Categories: Food & Drink