Happy New Year let’s cure some salmon!
I for one can’t believe that 2013 is behind us. I hope all of you had an amazing year and can remember 2013 fondly. In 2014, I wish you happiness, prosperity, friendship and great times with family, and a year of great food!
I want to start the year off with a classic. Gravlax are a traditional Scandinavian dish that makes a fantastic treat at breakfast or an elegant appetizer later in the day. In our family this one is a breakfast classic. My oldest son and wife consider this to be the ultimate breakfast food – “Lox and Bagels”.
At one time, smoking and curing were among the only ways to preserve the food without refrigerators and freezers. What caning was to preserving the harvest of vegetables and fruits, smoking and curing was to preserve the precious catch. Some of the finest things you will have the pleasure of tasting were developed through the process of preserving meats – What would the world be without genoa salami, Iberico ham, Prosciutto de Parma, Spanish chorizo, or duck confit?
I digress, the point of this post is specifically cured salmon, perhaps the purest and cleanest tasting expression of the fish. Smoked salmon is great, but lox are simpler, fresher tasting and luckily easier to make. I uses the best salmon possible. In this case I used a wild sockeye salmon which has a beautiful red color and great fresh flavor. Do be careful of previously frozen fish because although it may still taste great, the texture will be affected. Make sure fresh awesome fish is your priority.
Happy New Year and I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does.
Serves 3 for breakfast or 8 to 10 for reception
1 to 1 ¼ pound fresh salmon fillet, skin on, pin bones removed
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup salt
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
15 to 20 sprigs of dill
1. Mix together the salt, sugar, coriander, and white pepper.
2. In a non-reactive container spread approximately ¼ of the mixture out to the approximate length of the salmon fillet. Put half the dill down as well.
3. Lay the salmon fillet on top. Spread the cure on top of the fish. On thicker parts of the fish use more of the cure and a little less on thinner parts.
4. Lay the sprigs of dill across the fish, cover and leave at room temperature for two hours.
5. Put another dish on top to press the cure into the fish. If you are using a glass 9 by 13 dish then another of the same dish is ideal to set on top. It does not need to be very heavy just a light weight to press it down. Then put in in the refrigerator.
6. If the salmon is a inch thick or less allow to cure in the refrigerator for about 24 hours. If the fish is over an inch thick you will need to go 36 hours.
7. When the curing time is over rinse the fish off under cold running water and dry with a paper towel.
8. You can now use the Gravlax! For breakfast slice thin and put on toasted bagels with cream cheese, capers, diced tomato, and if you like paper thin slices of red onion.
It is worth noting that slicing paper thin perfect slices is a bit of an art. Do not be dismayed! A thin sharp knife works best. There are long thin knives made for this purpose if you want to invest, however these are not necessary. I have seen many a fine slice of gravlax done with a sharp chefs knife.
Have a good thyme,