One 1 lb. salmon filet
1⁄4 C. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 tsp. grated lime zest
1½ packages active dry yeast
4 tsp. sugar, divided
3½ cups all purpose flour
1 egg yolk
1 scant tsp. kosher salt
3½ -4 cups milk, divided
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
¼ cup clarified butter
Lay the salmon on a work surface and run your hand over the meat side to find the pin bones. Remove the bones with fish tweezers or needle-nose pliers.
In a small bowl, combine the salt, sugar, fennel seeds, lemon zest, and lime zest. Stir to blend. Rub over the meat side of the salmon to form a thin, even coating covering all of the meat. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, place in a baking pan, and place a heavy pan on top to weight the fish down. Refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.
In a small bowl, stir the yeast with 3 tablespoons of warm water (between 100 – 115 degrees) and add ½ teaspoon of sugar and an optional 1 tablespoon of flour. Stir until well mixed. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture is foamy and has visibly risen.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs and the egg yolk. Stir in the remaining flour, sugar, salt and 2½ cups of the milk. Beat until smooth.
Add the yeast and beat for 1½ minutes. Beat in the butter and oil. When the batter is smooth, cover the bowl with a cloth and allow it to rise in a warm place (between 82 to 88 degrees) until it doubles in size, approximately 1 hour.
Once the batter has risen, warm the remaining milk until hot (between 170 to 180 degrees) and pour it quickly in the batter. Immediately stir the batter with a wooden spoon. Cover with a cloth and allow to rise again for 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove the salmon from the refrigerator, unwrap, and wipe off the salt mixture. Place the salmon on a work surface, skin side up. Using a very sharp knife, cut away the skin by guiding the blade of the knife along the skin with one hand while cutting with the other. Cut the salmon into paper-thin slices.
In a heavy-bottomed cast iron skillet that is well seasoned, melt 1 teaspoon of clarified butter over medium heat. Use a small ladle to draw from the foamy top half portion of the batter. Do not stir the batter.
Ladle the desired amount of batter onto the hot skillet and cook until the edges start to brown a little, approximately 2 minutes. Flip the blin and cook for an additional minute or until done. Serve immediately with desired accompaniments.
Arrange a slice of salmon on top of each blini (reserve any remaining salmon for other uses). Top each with a dollop of the 1⁄4 C. sour cream or crème fraîche and a tiny bit of chives. Place 2 blini on each of 6 small plates and serve.