If you’ve ever had lox with mustard and capers you know just how good life can be. Salty salmon, sliced thinly on flatbread, crackers or bagels is a delicious start to any day. Gravlax is perhaps the closest you’ll get to a romp with a luscious mermaid. This is a recipe worth trying; come, give her a kiss.
Prep time: 10-15 min (active)
Make time: 14-18 hours (inactive)
Equipment: Large plate, casserole dish, bowl, measuring cups, wax paper, something heavy (sacks of beans, flours, etc.)
Yield: 1 pound – 4-5 servings
1 lb. fresh wild salmon*
½ c evaporated cane juice
½ c coarse sea salt
Generous amounts of fresh dill
Use the freshest, best quality salmon possible. *Note: If you have concerns about parasites, use a sashimi grade piece of fish. All fish in the United States that is used in sushi is flash frozen first. This kills the parasites. Alternately, you can freeze the fish yourself, before or after curing. For this recipe I used Copper River Sockeye. Some people prefer 2 parts sugar to 1 part salt. Feel free to adjust the proportions to your taste. The rule of thumb is to have enough salt and sugar combined to cover the fish.
Remove the pin bones of the salmon or have your fishmonger do it prior to purchase. Combine salt and sugar in a bowl. I’ve mixed smoked sea salt in the recipe shown here (hence the black in the photo). Place a large piece of wax paper in your casserole dish. Make sure it’s long enough to wrap over the top of the fish. Pour a scant amount of the sugar/salt mix in the bottom of your casserole dish on top of the wax paper- enough to just cover the bottom of the fish. Place the fish, skin side down on top of the sugar/salt mix. Layer fresh dill over the fish, be as generous as you like. Dill gives gravlax even more flavor.
Pour the remaining sugar/salt mix on top of the salmon. Cover the fish with wax paper. Put a large plate on top of the fish and weigh it down with sacks of beans, flour, etc. Use anything that will weigh down the plate. The combination of salt, sugar and pressure cures (cooks) the fish. Refrigerate for 14-18 hours. The length of time depends on the thickness of the fish. This piece was a little over an inch thick and was almost too cured after 16 hours. Some people cure for up to 3 days. Many recipes that cure for a longer period of time use more sugar and less salt in proportion. I have found that 14 hours is my magic point, most likely because I make small pieces, no more than a pound at a time and use a higher ratio of salt.
Remove the gravlax from the sugar/salt crust, gently rinse and pat dry. Slice in thin pieces by laying a fillet knife almost flat against the fish and slicing outward toward the tail. Serve with sweet dill mustard, capers, and red onions on your favorite bread or cracker. You can also serve it with slices of fresh tomato and cucumber. Gravlax pairs nicely with eggs or alongside sautéed spinach. There’s really no wrong way to eat gravlax.