Dating to the Middle Ages when Nordic fishermen salted and lightly fermented fresh-caught salmon by burying it in the sand above the high-tide line, Gravad Lax (gravlax) is prized to this day for its delicate, briny flavor. Quite expensive to purchase at retail, but dead simple to make at home using only 5 ingredients..
Sustainable and among the safest remaining species in terms of mercury and PCBs, wild Alaskan salmon is a good source of Thiamin, Riboflavin and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Protein, Niacin, Vitamin B12 and Selenium. Think of it as gourmet grizzly bear food!
1 pound fresh, wild Alaskan salmon (skin on or off, pinbones removed)
2 tablespoons fine sea salt
2 tablespoons organic, pure cane sugar
1 tablespoon dill pollen (more flavorful than the traditionally-used fresh dill)
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
Combine the salt, sugar, dill and pepper together in a bowl. Lay out a sheet of plastic wrap on a flat surface, then place enough salt mixture down to match the size of the salmon at a depth of about 3/8 inch. Position the salmon on top, then spread the remainder of the salt on the exposed surfaces to a similar depth.
Tightly wrap the package as it is, then wrap the entire bundle one more time. Place the wrapped salmon on a dish or inside of a plastic bag to catch the juices, then refrigerate for 48-72 hours, turning once half way through.
Unwrap the salmon, rinse away the salt under cold, running water and blot lightly. To use, simply slice the salmon thinly on a bias and serve on top of a bagel with cream cheese, or in a French omelet, perhaps.
- Preserving Salmon Three Ways (lostartskitchen.wordpress.com)
Gravlax is a Scandinavian dish consisting of raw salmon cured in salt, sugar, and dill.
During the Middle Ages, gravlax was made by fishermen who salted the salmon and lightly fermented it by burying it in the sand above the high-tide line. The word gravlax comes from the Scandinavian word grav, which means literally “grave” or “hole in the ground”, and lax (or laks), which means “salmon”, thus gravlax is “salmon dug into the ground”.
If smoked salmon is more to your liking, we cover that here.
Make a mixture of sea salt, non-refined sugar, dill and pepper (optional). I use a salt to sugar ratio of about 3:1, but you can adjust this to your taste (don’t worry, there will be very little salt or sugar in the finished product).
Thoroughly pack salmon filets with the salt mixture and either bury it in the salt bowl or double bag it as I have done here. Refrigerate for at least 2 days, checking occasionally to see if additional salt mixture is needed.
Once cured, rinse the salmon in lots of cold fresh water, pat dry and slice very thin. Serve as an appetizer garnished with crème fraîche and caviar, or in scrambled eggs.
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