Gravlax is salmon that is cured in salt and sugar. It is a common dish throughout Scandinavia. Gravlax is easy to make and makes a festive dish that is an excellent to serve at parties with many people. The process of curing fish in salt and sugar (grava) is not limited to salmon and works fine with any fatty fish although salmon is definitely the most common choice. Gravlax has been particularly popular and common in the northern regions of Scandinavia whose cold and fresh waters produce salmon of excellent quality. The basic recipe here has been used for generations and has its origins in the northernmost part of Sweden. Gravlax can be used either as a main dish or as an appetizer.
- 8 hg (1.75 lb) of fresh salmon file
- 30 ml (2 Tbs) of salt
- 30 ml (2 Tbs) of sugar
- 45 ml (3 Tbs) of juniper berries
- 30 cl (1 1/4 cups) of gin (optional)
- 5 ml (1 tsp) of whole or crushed white pepper seeds
- 20-40 g (0.75 to 1.5 oz.) of dill
Use the thick part of the salmon filet found towards the head, it should be approximately 2-5 cm (about an inch) thick. Cut the filet into two equally sized parts (if you are making gravlax for many people it is fine to use two filets instead). Don't use the part closest to the tail, since it is not thick enough. Now freeze the salmon for at least four days at -18C or colder to kill any parasites.
After deep freezing the salmon remove it from the freezer and let it thaw, preferably overnight in the refrigerator. The salmon does not have to be completely thawed for the next step.
Place the salmon, skin down, on a table. Rub the salt and sugar mix onto the pieces, then apply the juniper berries and pepper. Finally cover with dill. Put one piece on top of another, flesh side to flesh side (so the skin it outside on both pieces), and place in a plastic bag. Toss any leftover "ingredients" into the bag along with the gin. Seal the bag and place it in the refrigerator. Now let the salmon cure in the mixture, turning the bag over once, preferably twice, a day; for four days.
After four days the salmon is ready to serve. If you are not going to eat it immediately (it lasts a couple of days) move it to a fresh plastic bag or jar, removing the salty liquid that have formed in the original bag. If you keep it in the original bag the risk is that it may be too salty once you are about to serve it.
Use a sharp knife to slice thin slices from the salmon at an angle. During slicing also remove any leftover bones. The larger the piece of salmon the larger the angle and the larger surface area for the produced slices. Large slices looks better when served.
Potato stew with some additional Dijon mustard is excellent addition to gravlax.
The gin can be substituted for the acids in lemons or limes (like a ceviche).
The time can be greatly shortened by slicing the salmon thinly before curing it. It can be ready with as little as 4 hours of curing time. However, using this method means it should be eaten sooner also.