Holidays aren’t just about the main meal. If, like me, you’re fortunate enough to have company who come early and stay the night, it’s about the brunch before, the breakfast after … and maybe a lunch or two tucked in there as well. Gravlax, bagels, eggs, cheese, crostini, hummus, lots of veggies, lots of fruit and more gravlax. This past holiday we ate gravlax at every meal, save for the main dinner.
Years ago I made gravlax. Once.
I’m not sure why, but I wasn’t inspired to make it again. Until recently. And now that I have, I can’t seem to stop. As soon as I start slicing into the last chunk of fish I get another batch curing, just to have at the ready for what ever may arise.
I started with the traditional seasonings: dill, spices, kosher salt, pepper and Aquavit. From there I’ve ventured to curing salmon with cilantro, with vodka, with orange, with brown sugar, with cumin and even with scotch bonnet. Yup, scotch bonnet! Now I make two at a time: the original, and then whatever new combination I’m thinking (hoping?) will work. You pretty well can’t go wrong with what ever you come up with … but the classic is a great place to start.
Prepare this by Wednesday and it will be ready for brunch on Sunday …
This is from a recipe originally in Saveur Magazine.
2 lb piece center cut salmon, skin on, descaled
1 cup fresh Dill sprigs, plus ½-¾ cup coarsely chopped fresh Dill
1 tbsp Fennel Seeds
1 tbsp Caraway Seeds
2 tbsp Peppercorns
2/3 cup Kosher Salt*
1/3 cup Sugar*
zest of one Orange – optional
¼ cup Aquavit (or Vodka)
*you can increase or decrease the salt and sugar, keeping it at a 2:1 ratio
Pat salmon dry.
Spread out plastic wrap.
Using a small food processor (or coffee grinder), grind fennel seeds, caraway seeds and peppercorn.
Combine spices, orange zest (if using), sugar and kosher salt in a bowl. Stir to blend.
Spread half the salt-sugar mixture on the plastic wrap. Place the salmon on the mixture, skin side down. Cover with remaining mixture.
Top with fresh dill. Slowly pour Aquavit over salmon.
Fold plastic wrap tightly around salmon, ensuring the corners are well sealed. Place in a ziplock bag. If you don’t use a bag, be sure to place salmon on a small tray as some of the liquid will escape during curing.
Refrigerate at least four days, turning it over each day and gently massaging the fish. As the fish cures it will become firmer.
After four days, unwrap the plastic wrap. Remove the fish, discard the dill and seasonings and rinse thoroughly under cold water.
Dry fish. Put ½-¾ cup chopped fresh dill on a plate, flip the cured salmon flesh side down and gently press onto the dill to coat. Turn right side up. Slice. Enjoy!
Note: I suggest eating this within 10 days. Otherwise, preserve it using a food-saver vacuum sealer, if you have one, and store in the fridge.