Gravlax: A New Twist on an Old Favorite
Finishing salts are wildly popular these days, and seeing as how I’ve been enjoying my truffle-infused jar for months, I am intrigued by the incredible array of finishing salts available. Of course, I immediately began thinking about different ways to use these uniquely infused salts.
Salt, as you may or may not realize, is more than the white granular food seasoning found in the saltshaker on your dinner table. An essential element in the diet of not only humans but of animals and even of many plants, it also happens to be one of the most effective and most widely used of all food preservatives. In fact, during the Middle Ages, fishermen used salt to lightly ferment salmon by burying it in the sand above the high-tide line.
Gravlax, or gravad lax, is a Scandinavian dish consisting of raw salmon cured in salt, sugar, and dill. These days, fermentation is no longer used in the production process. Instead, the salmon is “buried” in a dry marinade of salt, sugar, and fresh dill, and cured for a few days. As the salmon cures, by the action of osmosis, the moisture turns the dry cure into a highly concentrated brine. This same method of curing can be used for any fatty fish, but salmon is the most common.
A light bulb went off — who needs dill? Salmon cured in a flavor-infused salt seems like the perfect marriage to me! On a mission, I visited the Ballard farmer’s market and picked up a jar of Almond Orange Cardamom. I covered my salmon in a salt-sugar mixture, added a splash of Pernod and wrapped the fish into nice little packet, placed it in the fridge and voilà, 48 hours later I had a delicious gravlax.
Gravlax is traditionally served as an appetizer, sliced thinly and accompanied by hovmästarsås (also known as gravlaxsås), a dill and mustard sauce, either on bread of some kind or with boiled potatoes. I like to serve gravlax on crackers with various accompaniments. Some of my favorites are a dollop of caviar, a thin slice of Gherkin, or a slice of tomato and fresh mozzarella marinated in an herb-infused olive oil.
Here’s my new take on this centuries-old standard:
3 tablespoons Almond Orange Cardamom sea salt
2 tablespoons raw sugar
1 tablespoon Pernod (optional)
1 pound fresh salmon divided into two equal-sized fillets, skin on
Mix the salt and sugar. Sprinkle over the two salmon fillets, completely covering their entire surface. Sprinkle with the Pernod. Sandwich the two fillets together, skin-side out. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, sealing well. Place the packet in a flat dish and weigh down with a 1-pound can or jar of food. Keep refrigerated, turning over every 12 hours. Let cure 36-48 hours. Unwrap, scrape off all loose salt. Slice thinly and serve with your favorite crackers. Keep gravlax refrigerated for up to one week.
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