Gravlax (pronounced "grov-lox") is from the Swedish name for this dish. Norwegians call it gravlaks and the Danish refer to it as Gravad laks. It literally means "buried salmon" and the name refers to the traditional method of preparation for this food: fresh salmon was heavy salted and buried in dry sand to ferment and cure.
For every pound (450 g) of salmon, prepare 2 tablespoons (about 30 g) kosher salt, 2 tablespoons (25 g) sugar, 2 teaspoons ground black pepper (4.2 g), and a handful of dill. For gravlax, use filet cuts (fish portioned with cuts parallel to the backbone), not steak cuts (fish portioned with cuts going through the backbone). In the example shown, I used a 1-1/2 pound salmon filet (completely thawed), so I set aside 3 tablespoons each of kosher salt and sugar as well as 3 teaspoons of pepper. There are a lot of gravlax recipes out there that uses all sorts of other ingredients to provide additional flavors. I prefer the clean taste of the salmon and encourage everyone to try this recipe first before adding more ingredients.
Examine the salmon for bones by visual inspection and by touch. If you find any bones, remove them with needle nose pliers. Draping the salmon over an inverted bowl or holding the filet up with one hand so it drapes (like a towel over the arm of a maitre d'hotel) will help force the tips of the bones up, making them easy to grasp and remove. Place the salmon on a large piece of plastic wrap (about three to four times the length of the filet) with the skin side down.
Put the salt, sugar, and black pepper into a bowl and mix until evenly distributed. Spoon the mixture onto the exposed salmon flesh, making sure to cover as much of the exposed areas as possible.
Place the dill on top of the salmon. If the dill is too long to fit on top of the filet, then snap off the stems or fold the dill over. It's best not to chop up the dill. We'll be removing the dill later, so having large pieces makes it easier to work with. How much dill should you layer on? They say, the more dill the better. I don't know how many sprigs I put on the salmon, but, as you can see in the photo, the dill is piled quite high.
Wrap the salmon, salt, dill sandwich up, tightly, in the plastic wrap. Take a second sheet of plastic wrap and wrap again. Place the package in a baking dish or container. You won't be baking this -- the container is there to catch the juices that will inevitable flow from the package during the curing. We'll be placing this in the refrigerator.
Refrigerate the salmon for at least two days. Continued refrigeration in the package will intensify flavors. Usually, I can't wait longer than three days. At this point, remove the container from the refrigerator, open the package, remove the dill, and rinse in water. In short, just wash the gravlax. If any pieces of salt or pepper are stuck to the flesh, just wipe it gently off. Dry with a paper towel.
I should probably mention, at this point, that many recipes call for the use of bricks or heavy weights to be placed on the salmon package. Some recipes also call for turning the package over every twelve hours to redistribute the juices. Both of these steps seem to be unnecessary. It may be blasphemy to say so, but you can achieve perfectly cured gravlax without the weight and without the turning.
Use a sharp knife to cut the gravlax. (Filet knives, boning knives, and Japanese sashimi knives work well for this role.) Position the gravlax so you will be cutting from the tail end (the small end) first. The gravlax should be sliced thinly on the bias (at an angle). Each slice should be detached from the skin.
The gravlax can be served by itself, on top of toasted bread, crackers, or any other way you would serve a smoked salmon appetizer. A squeeze of lemon juice or a slice of lemon (especially Meyer lemon) can also be a welcome touch.}?>
Gravlax (recipe can be scaled)
|1 lb. (450 g) frozen salmon filet||thaw completely & remove bones||cover salmon||cover salmon||double wrap in plastic wrap||refrigerate at least 48 hours||rinse and dry||slice on bias|
|2 Tbs. (~30 g) kosher salt||mix|
|2 Tbs. (25 g) granulated sugar|
|2 tsp. (4.2 g) ground black pepper|
|20 sprigs fresh dill weed|