Smoked salmon and gravlax are the favourite festive appetizers that make life a little easier for the host or hostess. Although making smoked salmon is best left for the experts, gravlax (gravad lax or lox) can be made at home quite easily. In the Scandinavian language, grav means "grave" or "to dig" and lax means "salmon". This word was coined because the fishermen used to salt salmon before burying them in the sand to ferment.
I have always wanted to make gravlax myself but I always see tv chefs making it with 2 sides of salmon, meaning a whole salmon, which is just too much for my family's consumption. Luckily, I found a gravlax recipe (from allrecipes.co.uk) that actually has a formula for making it in different quantities. You can make as little or as much as you want.
I didn't realize that it was so easy to make. It is just a matter of sandwiching the curing mix between the salmon fillets and leaving it to cure in the fridge for 3 days. The only preparation you have to do is to freeze the salmon for at least 7 days before curing it. This kills the parasites in the raw fish and makes it safe to eat.
After 3 days of curing, the gravlax is ready. It actually looks and taste like the real stuff. It is so delicious with mustard and dill sauce.
boneless salmon fillet, skin on
light brown sugar
ground black pepper
fresh dill, chopped
For every kg. of salmon the curing mix is:
4 tbsps. coarse sea salt
3 tbsps. soft light brown sugar
1 tsp. of ground black pepper
3 tbsps. of chopped fresh dill
3 tbsps. vodka
Freeze the salmon for at least 7 days. Defrost thoroughly. Prepare the fillet by making sure that there are no bones in them. You will need to cut the fillet in half because the curing mix will be sandwiched between them. Weigh the salmon and make the appropriate quantity of curing mix.
Mix the salt, sugar and pepper together.
Line a rectangular dish with a sheet of that cling film that is big enough to wrap the salmon fillets later on. Lay one of the salmon pieces on the cling film and sprinkle half of the curing mix.
Sprinkle the dill on top of this. Sprinkle the last half of the curing mix on top of the dill and pour the vodka on top of it.
Lay the last piece of salmon on top of this.
Wrap the cling film tightly around the salmon to make a neat parcel.
Put another dish on top of the parcel and weigh down with tinned food or any weight you want to use. Store in the refrigerator for 72 hours, turning every twelve hours.
After the curing time, take the salmon out, scrape off all of the curing mix sticking to it and dry with kitchen paper. Slice as thinly as you can on the slant. If you want more dill flavour, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with more chopped dill before slicing.
Serve with dill and mustard sauce:
2 tbsp. wholegrain mustard
1/4 c. mayonnaise
2 ttsps. chopped fresh
2 tsps. lemon juice
1 tsp. sugar
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