Gravlax for Celebrating the New Year in Style
I’m smitten with homemade gravlax, the traditional Scandinavian method of preserving salmon. Gorgeous color. Luscious texture. Delicious flavor. Gravlax reminds me of the lox of my childhood. The lox we would eat Sunday mornings with whipped cream cheese and bagels.
Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.
Remember Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday from the TV show Dragnet? (dum te dum dum. DUM) In my excitement to share this recipe with you in time for New Year’s celebrations, I’m limiting myself to just the facts. Here’s a link to learn more about the history of gravlax, or gravadlax.
Gravlax really is easy to make. A salt, sugar and spice mix and lots of fresh dill transform the salmon, along with it sitting weighted and refrigerated for 2 to 3 days, into silken-textured gravlax. Just wipe off and toss any remaining spice mix, dill and the liquid in the dish.
Slice and arrange the gravlax on a platter. Then enjoy it as they do in Scandinavia with Honey Mustard Sauce and hearty rye bread and sliced cucumbers. Or my favorite way, as a wrap inside the inner leaves of butter or romaine lettuce. And, of course, both gravlax with cream cheese and bagels, or scrambled eggs with gravlax make for a perfect New Year’s Day brunch.
Some like it sweet
Over the last few weeks, I’ve come across a number of variations on making gravlax. The spices used, the ratio of sugar and salt and even how long to wait. Some people like to use a lot of sugar, others not so much. (I’m in that camp.) Some use aquavit, others say no liquid at all.
There’s also a difference in timing depending on how thick your salmon is. And whether or not you are using a side of salmon instead of a center cut filet. Obviously, the thicker the salmon, the more time it takes to cure. Even with a ¾ pound filet, I found that the thicker half of the filet took a day longer than its thinner half.
When is it done?
With center cut filets, test after 48 hours. The salmon should feel firm to your touch. If not, give it another day. However, after it’s firm to your touch, the longer you leave the salmon curing in the fridge, the more moisture will get drawn out, so the dryer and saltier your gravlax will be.
Here’s the recipe. Enjoy.
Happy New Year to you and yours!
May 2016 be healthy, prosperous and delicious!
Gravlax & Honey Mustard Sauce with Fresh Dill
Lightly adapted from a recipe on Epicurious.com
I’ve combined a number of different recipes to come up with this recipe for Honey Mustard Sauce. The sauce is especially bold and well-balanced when made with my homemade, naturally fermented whole-grain mustard.
Note: if you find fish described as “sushi grade” then the freezing overnight should have already been done for you. In the winter, purchase frozen wild salmon.
Makes 4-6 servings Printer-Friendly Recipe
1 ½ teaspoons black peppercorns
½ teaspoon white peppercorns
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 teaspoons organic sugar
1 1-pound salmon fillet, center cut, skin on
1 cup fresh dill, divided
Honey Mustard Sauce with Fresh Dill
Makes 3/4 cup
¼ cup whole grain mustard (fermented homemade mustard)
1 tablespoon light honey
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill weed
Mini pumpernickel, dark rye bread and/or inner leaves of butter or romaine lettuce
Thinly sliced rounds of cucumber
Honey Mustard Sauce with Fresh Dill
- To make the gravlax: With fresh salmon, freeze it for at least 24 hours to kill any potential parasites before making gravlax.
- Let the salmon thaw in the fridge before proceeding.
- Use tweezers or a pair of needle-nose pliers to remove any pin-bones from the salmon.
- Heat the peppercorns and coriander seeds in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Shake the skillet frequently. Cook until the peppercorns and coriander are fragrant and begin to “jump in the pan,” about 1 minute.
- When the spices have cooled, coarsely crush them with a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. Transfer the spices to a small bowl. Mix in the salt and sugar.
- Rub 1/3 of the spice mixture over the skin of the salmon filet.
- Place 1/3 cup of dill in the bottom of a glass baking dish. Place the salmon, skin side down, on top of the dill.
- Rub the remaining spice mixture into the top of the salmon. Press the remaining 2/3 cup of dill on top of the salmon. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the fish. Place another pan or a lid that fits inside of the baking dish on top of the plastic wrap covered salmon. Use a number of heavy cans or bricks as weights.
- Refrigerate with the weights for 2 to 3 days. Check after 48 hours. The gravlax is ready when the salmon is firm to the touch. If it feels soft, give it another day.
- To make the Honey Mustard Sauce: Combine the mustard, honey, vinegar and salt in a small mixing bowl.
- Use a whisk to gradually whisk in the olive oil so the sauce thickens.
- Stir in the chopped dill.
- Give this sauce at least a day to mellow and marry the flavors before serving. Store in the refrigerator.
- To serve gravlax: Remove the plastic wrap, discarding any liquid in the dish. Transfer the salmon to a cutting board. Use a paper towel to remove the spices and dill off both sides of the salmon (some spice mixture will remain). Using a very sharp knife, thinly slice the salmon at a 45-degree angle from the top of the filet toward the skin, detaching the gravlax from the skin.
- Arrange the bread, gravlax, Honey Mustard Sauce, lettuce leaves, cucumber slices, dill sprigs on a platter and enjoy.