Gravlax

Fishing for a new dish?  I’ve got the cure

Originally appeared in the October 6, 2011 edition of The Southside Times.

Okay, okay—so this isn’t a particularly expeditious dish.  But there’s a reason why you don’t see cured salmon as a common centerpiece at the dinner table:  It’s a specialty dish, which takes time and self-control.  In the technique of curing, patience is not only a virtue it’s a necessity.  Yet, aside from properly scaling your measurements, the waiting—as Tom Petty famously noted—is the hardest part.  Read more here:An age-old process used to preserve foods, salt-curing uses a mixture of salt, sugar, herbs, and spices to dehydrate meat, thus inhibiting bacterial growth while simultaneously adding flavor.  By the book, proper curing requires one-and-half days per pound of meat.  So once you purchase your fish, remove the pin-bones, and prep your ingredients, the only thing left to do is cue Carly Simon’s song “Anticipation” and sit tight for a few days.

Slice gravlax paper-thin, and serve with rye bread and crème fraȋche.  “What’s crème fraȋche?” you ask—well it’s a tart and tangy cultured cream that’s a big deal in French cuisine.  If you’re interested in an ersatz version composed of heavy cream and buttermilk, one’s available on the blog this week.  And if you’re going to add salt-curing to your culinary repertoire, you’ll obviously have time to spare.

Gravlax

Serves 4

  • One, 1-pound salmon fillet, skin-on, pin-bones removed
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon green peppercorns, cracked
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (plus extra for garnish)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • As needed, rye bread
  • As needed, crème fraȋche

1.  Place salmon on a strip of plastic wrap.

2.  For salt-cure:  combine salt, green peppercorns, dill, and sugar.  Coat both sides of salmon with cure.  Wrap plastic tightly around fish, and add and extra piece to secure fish.

3.  Place fillet in a long dish (like a casserole), and place another dish of equal size on top of fish.  Weigh-down the top dish with a couple soup cans.  Refrigerate for one-and-a-half to two days.

4.  Unwrap fillet, scrape off excess cure.  Slice very thin, and serve with rye bread and crème fraȋche.  Garnish with remaining dill.

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