Have you ever heard of gravlax? I hadn’t! But one afternoon, I had seen an article in the food section of the New York Times about gravlax. I love lox. They looked similar. And so, my interest was peaked!
Gravlax is Nordic in origin and the traditional way to make it is to bury it in the sand, in a blend of salt, sugar and dill, allowing the earth to cure it. Lox is also cured salmon that is sometimes cold smoked (like Nova Scotia lox) and results in a distinctlivey different finished product. They are very simple to make, and very cost effective. All you need is a 3 to 5 days in the refridgerator and patience.
The basic recipe for gravlax is very simple and can be made with a 1:1 ratio of salt and sugar, and some fresh dill. In some recipes I saw that you can add a few other herbs and spices like peppercorns, chives, tarragon, juniper berries, citrus zest. Some even sprayed the raw salmon with vodka before coating the pieces with the curing mixture.
If you are put off by the sugar, know that it balances the salt & is used in the cooking or “curing” process. The salt & sugar balance each other out. You will rinse it off at the end of the curing process.
I used salt, pepper, sugar, dill, chives, orange and lemon zest. I sprayed it with ouzo, as that is what I have on hand, instead of vodka. The result is to die for!
I suggest that you ask for sashimi grade salmon at the fish market for the best quality. Two pieces similar in size so that you can sandwich the curing ingredients in between. And you want to eat it within a few days. The better grade salmon can be frozen once cured, and you can simply defrost it in the refrigerator as you need it.
In Norway it is served with a mustard dill sauce called hovmästarsås on pumpernickel slices. You can also enjoy it as you would lox, on a bagel with cream cheese. I even eat in on a salad of mixed greens. I say use your imagination and enjoy your creation!
Truly this would be a hit if served at any dinner party or get together! Imagine telling your guests that you make your own gravlax! I believe that they would be impressed!
2 full size pieces of salmon, deboned, similar in length
1 bunch of dill
1 bunch of chives
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 cup of salt
1/4 cup crushed peppercorns
1/4 cup of ouzo (or vodka)
I take a baking pan and lay a sheet or two of plastic wrap down to create my work surface. I will be using this same pan to keep it in the refrigerator for the next few days.
Rinse the salmon and pat dry. Mix the sugar, salt, peppercorns, orange and lemon zest in a bowl. Set aside.
Sprinkle or spritz the raw salmon meat with ouzo (or vodka if you have it). Coat each filet with the curing mixture. Lay the dill and the chives on one of them and then sandwhich them together.
Wrap them in a sheet of parchment, and then tightly in a few sheets of plastic wrap. Wrap that in parchment paper. I used a few cans of beans as weight. You can use anything you have. The weight presses it all together so that you get even distribution of the curing throughout the salmon.
Now all you need is time! Place it in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Turning it over once a day. Thats it! So simple.
Three days gives a softer cure, while five days a hard cure. I prefer five days, because I want it “cooked” more.
And now comes the unwrapping! I place the pan in the sink and start to unravel my creation. Discard the dill and chives. Rinse it thoroughly under running water. This will wash away any of the curing ingredients left on the surface of the salmon.
Pat it dry. Thinly slice it and serve in your preferred manner. Store it in an air tight container in the fridge.