829 Southdrive

829 Southdrive

A New Jersey state of mind

Friday, September 3, 2010

Gravlax of Love

Every so often I get the yen for Gravlax, the quick-cured
salmon that's great with sour cream and capers on pumpernickel,
or an egg bagel with Philly cream cheese, or on the end of a fork
in between sips of gin or vodka or (insert liquor of your choice).

It's really simple to make, and after a couple of times making it,
I stopped going to the recipe because it really comes out great
no matter exactly which ingredients you use.

Salmon fillet is the key ingredient.  Weight doesn't matter so much.
Lay it on some plastic wrap.  In a bowl mix equal parts sugar
and salt.  Pretty much any type of sugar and salt will work.
I prefer brown sugar and kosher salt.  If you have a jar of
pickling spice, throw in a good amount.  If not, coriander
seeds, mustard seeds, bay leaves, juniper berries, dried
chiles, and fennel seeds will fit the bill.  Add also whole
black peppercorns, and white ones if you have them.

A ton of fresh dill is needed for this.  Chop a few sprigs
roughly and spread evenly over the salmon.  This prevents
the salt/sugar mixture from coming into full contact with the fish.
This may be solely my preference, and I'm always happy
with the result.  Then pour the salt mixture over the chopped
dill blanket evenly at about a half inch thickness.  Finally,
cover everything with the rest of the dill bunches, again
spreading them out as evenly as you can.  Wrap two or 
three times fairly tightly with plastic film.  Then clean up
the mess you've made on your cutting board. 

Some folks say that weighting the fillet is not necessary,
but I like to do just that.  Get two pans where one fits
inside the other.  Place the wrapped salmon in the bottom
of one, and place the second on top, weighing it down
with a couple of heavy objects such as canned yams
and whole plum tomatoes.  A red brick would work
just as well.  Put in the fridge and say goodnight for 24
hours.  Then, take out of the fridge, remove the weights,
and pour off the juices that have been drawn out of the
fish by the salt.  Back go the cans and into the fridge
again for another 24.  Next day do the same thing.
On the third day, we're ready to unveil the finished
product.  Unwrap, remove the dill sprigs, scrape off
the remaining salt, (there usually is some undissolved)
and quickly run under a gentle stream of water, being 
careful not to rinse off all of the chopped protective
dill, leaving some on for a nice presentation. 

Then, with a very sharp, long slicing knife, slice salmon
 on a bias, and shingle the slices evenly on a nice plate,
displaying the beautiful chopped dill 
on the edge of every slice.  La di da.  


  1. That was simple to make?

    Man, I can mess up a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

    Peanut butter first, right?

  2. Ah, something really goooood to do with the kokanee that come out of Heron Lake. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. A Finnish friend of mine who is a great host and chef made something similar - yet much more simple -for the 3rd course(out of 5!)of our meal. It was thinly sliced raw pollock (lightly salted for only an hour or two), a simple sliced cucumber salad (with salt, sugar & dill)and toasted dark rye bread with dill...all with lemon/lime wedges. VERY NICE!

  4. A great recipe... but can you get the red brick in any supermarket?!

  5. A lot of work to go to for dinner! But I'm not a gourmet diner; just a feeder. Steak sauce on the salmon and throw it on the barbecue! Add a glass of champagne & Presto! I'll be taking orders for seconds!

  6. Mouths are watering here in the CT branch of the family! We look forward to the privilege of helping to make what Dave prepares disappear. I do believe there will be champagne involved. K

  7. I've got this on the list, right after your oyster recipe from a few months ago. Thanks Baydog.

  8. Asian Carp Recipe

    • mix brown sugar, kosher salt, pickling spice,
    • cover fish thickly with fresh dill,
    • layer salt mixture with dill,
    • wrap well in plastic wrap, oilcloth even better for environment,
    • weigh down with huge cinderblocks for 48 hrs,
    • throw away the fish and eat the cinderblocks.