Dill Pollen Gravad Lax

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..

Dill Pollen Gravad Lax

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!

Gravad Lax

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.

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Charcuterie – A Documentary

Another gorgeously-produced, compelling story from award-winning Austin director Christian Remde  – Charcuterie – A Documentary..

“Charcuterie is defined as the cookery of meat but in the past 700 years, it’s become so much more.  From the Pâtés and Terrines of France to the Salumi of Italy and Spain, the world of Charcuterie is rich with tradition.  This short documentary highlights two of Charcuterie’s rising stars, Lawrence and Lee Ann Kocurek of Kocurek Family Charcuterie in Austin, Texas.”

With their deeply-traditional, yet contemporary interpretations,  I can tell you from personal experience that Kocurek Family Charcuterie are artisans in the finest sense of that term.  From Chorizo Verde to Currywurst to Cheek-to-Cheek Terrine (and well beyond),  Lawrence and Lee Ann’s passion for their craft is evident in every morsel of their hand-crafted goods.  Find @KFACharcuterie at Austin area Farmer’s Markets or online at http://www.kocurekfamilycharcuterie.com/.  Pass the duck rillettes, please!   –Ren

The GMO Film Project

“This is one to watch…”  says  Slow Food Los Angeles

“Today in the United States, by the simple act of feeding ourselves, we unwittingly participate in the largest experiment ever conducted on human beings. Massive agro-chemical companies like Monsanto (Agent Orange) and Dow (Napalm) are feeding us genetically-modified food, GMOs, that have never been fully tested and aren’t labeled. This small handful of corporations is tightening their grip on the world’s food supply—buying, modifying, and patenting seeds to ensure total control over everything we eat. We still have time to heal the planet, feed the world, and live sustainably. But we have to start now! “

For more information (and another great video!), please visit The GMO Film Project. To help see this important work completed, please visit Kickstarter.

Watermelon Curry with Pan-Seared Shrimp

The warm heat of Kashmiri chili with fresh ginger, garlic, toasted spices and cooling, fresh watermelon, served with pan-seared, wild Gulf shrimp and aged Basmati rice..

Watermelon Curry with Pan-Seared Shrimp

1/2 pound fresh shrimp, peeled & deveined
2-1/2 cups fresh watermelon, cut into 3/4-inch cubes, divided
1/3 cup diced onion
3 garlic cloves
1-1/2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
1-inch piece true cinnamon
1 tablespoon Kashmiri chili powder
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon nigella sativa (charnushka)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
pinch of sugar
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 fresh lemon

Combine garlic, coriander, cumin, nigella, turmeric, ginger and sugar in a large Molcajete (a mortar made of volcanic stone), using a pestle to grind into a pulp.  Add half of the watermelon and grind into a thin paste.  Scrape contents into a clean bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat ghee in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat.  Place cinnamon in hot ghee and cook until it begins to unfurl, about 5 minutes.  Don’t let the butter burn.

Remove cinnamon and discard; increase heat to medium high.  Once the ghee is shimmering, add the onions and shrimp and sear quickly until very lightly-browned, about 2 minutes.  Add watermelon and spice mixture, and let sizzle and fry until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Add remaining chunks of watermelon, stir to combine and heat another 2 minutes.  Squeeze a fresh lemon over the top and serve hot with aged basmati or naan, if you like.