Our friend Barbara has sent us this recipe for gravlax to complement her memories of her mother, affectionately known as Queen Lil. Home-cured salmon – an elegant appetizer or entree from Scandinavia that “cooks” in the refrigerator. Serves 12 as an appetizer, keeps for a week refrigerated. Please note that the fish must be very, very fresh. Best made with wild king salmon; also excellent with organic farmed Atlantic salmon.
One 3-4 pound whole salmon, filleted, head removed but skin left on.
¾ cup Japanese Sea Salt, ground
¾ cup Okinawa brown sugar, ground
1 Tbsp. freshly ground Lemon Pepper
2-3 springs Ingredient Finder Lemon Grass
4 Tbsp. gin, vodka or aquavit
2 large bunches fresh dill, including stems, coarsely chopped
Lemon wedges and dark rye bread for serving.
Lay both fillets on a large non-reactive (eg, glass or ceramic) plate. Mix salt, pepper and brown sugar and rub well on both sides of each fillet. Sprinkle with spirits.
Spread lemon grass sprigs and ¾ of the chopped dill on one fillet and lay the other on top to form a fish “sandwich.” Rub remaining sugar-salt cure on outside and sprinkle with remaining dill. Wrap the whole package tightly in two layers of plastic wrap and weight it with several large unopened cans or an iron pan weighing several pounds.
Twice a day, open the package, baste fish with the juices that have accumulated, and return to refrigerator. After 2-3 days the fish will be completely opaque and ready to eat.
You may rinse each fillet quickly to remove the sugar-salt cure and dill, or just scrape it off with a large spoon. Slice as thinly as you can, on the bias, removing the skin. Serve with lemon wedges and dark rye bread. More serving ideas: top with capers, a little finely chopped sweet onion, or a Scandinavian-style sauce of mayonnaise and whole-grain mustard thinned with cream.
This is an adaptable recipe that can be given many flavor nuances.
1. Try substituting 1 Tbsp. Escabeche Spice Blend for half of the black pepper.
2. For a taste reminiscent of smoked salmon, add a Tbsp. of Ingredient Finder Smoked Salt in the recipe.