(Swedish cured salmon)
Gravlax — also spelled gravlaks, gravadlax, or gravadlaks — is a classic Swedish way to preserve salmon. It is often served as part of the first course of a smörgåsbord. Gravlax is delicious on a slice of rye bread with a bit of hovmästarsås or a squeeze of lemon.
Makes 20 to 25 appetizer portions
- Whole sides of salmon, deboned, skin on -- 2, preferably from the same fish (5 to 6 pounds total)
- Kosher salt -- 1/4 cup
- Sugar -- 1/4 cup
- White peppercorns, crushed -- 2 tablespoons
- Fresh dill -- 2 bunches
- Aquavit or vodka (optional) -- 1/4 cup
- Lay a piece of plastic wrap in a glass dish large enough to hold the salmon sides. Lay one side, skin side down, on the plastic wrap.
- Mix the salt, sugar and crushed peppercorns and spread half this cure mix over the surface of the fillet. Lay the whole bunches of dill over the salt. Sprinkle the aquavit or vodka over the dill. Spread the rest of the cure mix over the dill and lay the second side of salmon, skin side up, over the first.
- Pull the plastic wrap up to cover the fillets. Place another dish or some plates on top of the salmon and weigh it down using canned food or other heavy items.
- Place the dish in the refrigerator for 48 to 72 hours. Once or twice a day remove the dish, unwrap the salmon and baste it with the juices that accumulate. Then flip the fish over and return the dish to the refrigerator.
- Take the fillets from their wrapping, remove the dill and scrape off any excess cure mix. Slice thinly on the bias and serve.
- This recipe can be cut in half to use only one fillet. Simply wrap the single fillet tightly and baste and flip it as with two fillets.
- Wild salmon is best for curing. It is important that the fish be very fresh. Other fatty fishes such as trout or mackerel can also be cured this way.
- Though not traditional, flavorings such as caraway seed, lemon zest, coriander and fennel seed can be added to the cure mix. Or substitute fennel weed for the dill.
- Nova Lox (Jewish smoked and cured salmon): when salmon is lightly cured and cold smoked, it becomes the beloved Jewish accompaniment for a good bagel. Col smoking is a complicated process and difficult to do in the home. A little liquid smoke drizzled over the gravlax before curing will make a poor substitute. Or just substitute gravlax for true nova. It's still good.
- Lox on a bagel smeared with cream cheese is a favorite in the East European and American Jewish community.
- Peppercorns can be easily crushed with the bottom of a heavy skillet or saucepan.