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|
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Hmmm... I don't know why I said skin side up or down. I don't think it matters to the final product. I've removed it from the article to reduce confusion.
This is a good example of how multitasking can degrade the quality of your work. :)
First, the salmon should actually lay on both sides, as Gravad Lax is stored two fillets at a time with the fleshy sides facing, and should be turned a couple of times while refridgerated.
I can honestly say that I have never encountered a Gravad lax with alcohol as a part of the actual recipe/seasoning. Aquavit however, is nothing less than a requirement to be served with the salmon if you want true scandinavian style gravad lax.
Further, hovmästarsauce is the addition of choice for this "basic" recipe. Mix 1 Tbs sugar, 1 Tbs white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Add 1dl (6.66 Tbs) of vegetable oil in drop by drop while whipping forcefully. The sauce is to be thick and glossy. If the oil is added too fast then the suce might cut. Finally add 3 Tbs of short dill weed.
To prepare the gravlax in the traditional method, cut the filet in half (top to bottom, not head to tail). Cover both pieces with the salt mixture and sandwich the dill in between them (flesh sides facing flesh sides as Jacob says). The gravlax should be flipped over every twelves hours. The problem is, I've prepared gravlax both ways and I can't tell the difference. So, I don't bother with the two piece sandwich anymore and usually don't even bother flipping. Sometimes I flip after a day and half because I like to touch and I can't keep my hands off my food.
I also have not tried any gravlax prepared with alcohol. I wonder how that tastes.
Ohhhh careful, you thread on dangerous ground. Gravnings-purists would have your head for that sentiment. ;)
What do I look for? How is the label marked so that I know it has been frozen to the right temperature? What else does a label say that is meaningful?
What about fresh salmon, how do I pick a good steak? How do I kill the microorganisms?
I've seen different packages at the market but don't know how to choose or even interpret the labels. I tried some smoked salmon once and it turned out tough and dry.
I once had some fantastic thinly sliced smoked salmon at a ski resort. I haven't been able to find anything like it since then, but it sounds like it may have been something akin to lox.
One other thing, if buying frozen, how do I thaw it? In the refrigerator for 3 days? In warm water in the sink a couple hours? Which way is best/safest?
Thanks, the recipe looks great,
1. The main difference between this recipe and others I have seen, is that it shows only part of a full filet. It's good to know that a relatively small amount can be prepared in this way. However, if an entire filet is used, the recommended procedure is to cut it into a head and a tail part of equal length. These pieces are then put together in such a way that the thin part of one piece meets the thick part of the other, forming a combined piece of approximately uniform thickness. Before they are put together all sides are covered with the salt mixture and a generous amount of dill is put in between the pieces. This variation may explain the confusion about the skin side of the salmon. When two pieces are put together the skin-sides will be on the outside, whether the filet still have skin or not.
2. I'm sceptical to the proposed etymology of the word "gravlax". I have never heard of preparing salmon by burying it, even in the past. The Swedish word "grav" can also mean a water-filled depression, such as a moat or an especially deep area of the sea.
3. I don't know why the recipe specifies kosher salt, since that's rarely used in Scandinavia. Maybe the point is that it must be real salt, not low-sodium or other substitutes.
4. I second the opinion that the basic recipe can't be improved on, except with a little bit of pepper.
5. I agree that the more dill the better. I put dill over and under too.
6. In my experience no amount of plastic wrap can contain the juices completely, it's messy. The best would probably be to use a zip-lock bag, but I have never had a big enough bag handy.
7. I agree that weights don't seem to accomplish anything. My guess is that weights might have helped keeping the salmon immersed in the juices, before the days of plastic.
8. Maybe a single piece doesn't have to be turned, but I feel better about turning a two layer piece. It's easy enough, except for the mess.
Do I take a chance and a taste, or toss the whole thing out to the raccoons and possums who patrol for scraps?
A quick google will tell the stories.
I normally use fennel and dill seeds for spicing the fish but you can use quite a lot of things. The yellow on the lemon is also nice along with the lemonjuice. You can use oranges as well but its not a personal favourite.
Gin and rose pepper is quite nice but one have to be caful with the alcohol as the fish generally catches a lot of taste from alcohol. A smoother alcohol as dry sherry might be an option.
When preparing the fish I normally prefere a palastic bag as you can close that tightly. The fish gives away some fluids and you want to keep that with the fish. Using a whole fish you take the two filets put the sugar/spice mix and rub it into the filets gently. Put the leftover mix and the dill/fennel etc and put it in between the parts. Put the other file on top of the first one head to tail and put it in the bag.
If you want to speed up the process you can actually use thin slices of salmon, put on a plate and carefully pour over some salt/sugar mix. It will marinate in 5-10 minutes.
About the name: it is not called gravlax in Sweden, the actual name is GRAVAD LAX (meaning burried salmon like you said, but don't know what the name relates to, my guess is that people laid the salmon in pits in the ground or underground cellars during the curing to keep it cool). The name "gravlax" that americans seem to use probably comes from the norwegian name you mentioned
Can you do the same with Tuna? Or Cod, Haddock for example?
Also, in the freezer, I have the Head to tail covered a generous amount of flesh; does anyone have any ideas what I can do with it?
Cure it and make a pate for example? Seems such a shame to waste it...
I'd definitely keep it refrigerated.
Keep it in the fridge, its still a fresh product
I'm pretty sure you want to use a fatty fish
I forgot to add we like to make a sauce with ours.
Unless I'm baking I never measure but here's a start. You want this sauce to end up savory, the sugar is just to take the bite out of the mustard and the lemon. Add the oil last the as an emusifier. I dont use much oil.
1. I lay two salmon filets out, skin side down and flesh side up, and rub a substantial amount of a salt/sugar/white pepper mixture onto the flesh side of each. I have made it with both kosher salt and coarse-grained sea salt, and find that the latter gives a more vibrant taste to the end product. I use equal parts of salt and sugar, and approximately 10% of the total salt/sugar mix of finely-ground white pepper. For a whole salmon of about 4 pounds before fileting -- i.e., two filets, each weighing about 1-1/2 pounds after fileting -- I would use about 5 tablespoons each of salt and sugar, and about one tablespoon of pepper. This is, of course, approximate, and accurate measurement is not crucial.
2. I place the following into a flat glass (or otherwise nonreactive) baking dish: a layer of dill; one of the salmon filets, skin side against the dill, flesh side up, with the filet facing an arbitrary north; another layer of dill; the other salmon filet, flesh side against the dill, skin side up, with the filet facing an arbitrary south; another layer of dill. Over the top of this "sandwich" I sprinkle the remaining salt/sugar/white pepper mix. For a whole salmon -- i.e., two filets -- a 13" x 9" baking dish is the right size.
3. I take another nonreactive baking dish of the same size and place it on top of the "sandwich," with the flat side (bottom) of the baking dish down.
4. I wrap the whole thing with 4 short bungee cords, two on the arbitrary north-south axis and the others on the arbitrary east-west axis, to press the upper baking dish down onto the "sandwich." I then refrigerate it.
5. After 12 - 24 hours I unwrap the bungee cords, drain off the liquid, turn the "sandwich" over, replace the upper baking dish, re-wrap with the bungee cords, and refrigerate. I repeat this every 12 - 24 hours for two to three days.
6. When it is finished I remove the "sandwich", drain off whatever liquid remains, separate the filets, throw away everything that is not salmon, rinse the filets thoroughly, dry them, and lightly scrape the flesh surface of each filet with a sharp knife (otherwise I find it too salty).
7. I serve it sliced thin (a long-bladed non-serrated knife seems to work best), on small pieces of thin-sliced rye or pumpernickel bread, with a sauce made of 1 tablespoon sweet mustard, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, 4 - 5 oz. oil (I mix good-quality olive oil and neutral salad oil, such as Canola, equally) whisked in a drop or so at a time so that sauce emulsifies, and a whole lot of finely-chopped dill at the end.
8. Vodka or aquavit that has been stored in the freezer, served in shot glasses, goes well.[/i]
I was under the impression that sushi grade salmon was all prefrozen to destroy parasites.
A wonderful method of putting up the salmon was taught me by a Swedish chef (my apologies to my Danish friends). After making the traditional filet sandwich, cut sufficient cheesecloth to wrap the sandwich 6 to 8 times. Cover the surface of your non-reactive dish with one end of the cheesecloth, throw some dill, sugar/salt mixture and pepper/juniper berry on it, then lay on the sandwich. Throw some of the same ingredient mix on the top of the sandwich. Then, wrap the sandwich in the cheesecloth while flipping it and pulling slightly on the cheesecloth with each turn.
This accomplishes all you need do. Each time you wrap and pull, the total pressure on the salmon is additively increased by the strength of each pull (same as when a piano tuner repairs a broken hammer shank by applying glue and then wrapping with thread). This holds the dill/berry/pepper mix firmly against the fish (don't pull too hard, just gently). It also maintains moisture all around the fish and reduces the required frequency of turning while curing. Best of all, it has always seemed to me to produce a much nicer, fresher tasting product by allowing the fish to breathe while curing (as opposed to wrapping in plastic -- think about it, they didn't have plastic wrap when this dish was first developed by our Scandi pals). Breathing is a good thing, moisture is a good thing, it's all good.
I believe you'll find the resulting product freshly flavored just the way you want it (depending upon your own ingredient mix) and with a moist, medium-firm (just firm enough to slice), melt-in-your-mouth texture.
If yours is too salty for your taste you should not reduce the salt too much as it is vital to the "cure" and is needed to extract the liquids. Try wiping it clean of the seasoning or even rinsing then patting it dry with a clean cloth then a good honey-mustard sauce should not foil your efforts again.
Hope this helps.
Thirty years later, I'm Asatru, and hankering to make gravlax; my lust for cured salmon hasn't diminished one whit.
Some say King (chinook) is best, others vote for Silver Salmon, many say they prefer Sockeye. There is also Chum.
Any comments from those with experience??????
I've also used vanilla extract and/or lemon juice instead of an alcohol. I've also used dried dill and it's not such a awful compromise in taste. This summer I'm looking forward to trying lime juice.
Also, for those that are squeamish about "raw" salmon, or if it's too salty, I'd suggest soaking their serving pieces in fresh lemon juice for a bit of time to "cook" it for them.
I'm always looking for new ways to prepare fish, and nothing is more tasty than a gravelax dish with rye bread and sliced red onion (cappers are a treat, too). I am a teacher in Bangkok and from Canada where I learned about making gravelax using local rainbow trout, steelhead, and landlocked salmon. All the recipes I have read here are fantastic. What I would like to comment on the complaints of saltiness and curing time. The saltiness comes from (as you would probably know), the salt that you apply onto the actual flesh. If your gravelax is coming out too salty, it is because you are putting too much cure agent onto the fish. You only need to sprinkle the salt - sugar mixture lightly onto the fish. What many don't realize is when you are sprinkling the cure mixture onto the fish, the salt and sugar quickly desolves causing you to think that you are not putting enough on. Your fillet does not need to be painted white with the cure mixture. Be confident with your first application and try that. Once you have treated the fillet with the specified amount of cure mixture, wrap it up and prepare it for cooling.
I still believe that weight is an important factor with the curing process. I have tried bricks, stones, cutting boards, and even old phone books. Let me tell you all, nothing is better than a water balloon. After you have prepared your gravelax for the cooler, get a medium sized garage bag and fill it over half way with water. Tie it off and place it directly onto your fillets. It is best to use a roasting pan so that the sides of the pan will contain the bloated bag. The weight of the water is evenly placed all around the fish, compared to a brick that only rests on the high side of the fillet. The water bag will evenly diplace weight around the fillet giving it an ideal curing pattern. Try it, you will be surprised with the difference.
I hope this tip finds you in good health. God bless
About the debate on where this delish dish has gotten it's name from. The latin name for dill, the herb which you cover the salmon with while curing, is "Anethum graveolens". Could perhaps that name reveal something about why it's called gravad lax or gravlax? ;-) Lox, by the way, would come from the scandinavian languages' word for salmon, which is lax, for anyone who's interested.
I like making gravlax from either Atlantic or Pacific salmon. For me, the key is that it is wild, not farmed. There IS a difference.
All Atlantic salmon are farmed. Atlantic salmon is an extinct species in the wild, so the only ones which remain are farmed ones. They are an ideal farming species because they are the most agressive and are pushed to grow faster than they should.
Aside from the taste, there are very good ecological and health reasons to purchase wild salmon rather than farmed.
A variation: Use fennel seeds and Noilly Prat as an addition to the basic recepe. 2 times the amount of pepper. 2 tablespoons of Noilly Prat.
Next time I do this dish I'll try the cheese cloth method. I heard somewhere that packing the fish in plastic can be a problem, no oxygen gets to the fish and some bacteria are anaerobic.
Freezing fatty fish: pack them in water, the frozen fish will last longer(3-9 months) in the freezer as opposed to packing in air(1-2 months).
Freezing fish in water applies only to fresh fish, not prepared fish. I've frozen Gravad lsalmon and smoked salmon packed in plastic film and plastic bags. Max. 2 months before the fish gets an aftertaste from the skin.
Regarding a previous post about freezing smoked or cured salmon. If you feel about a bitter after taste, remove the skin before making gravlax or pre-slice it and wrap it (layer it) on waxed paper before covering it in plastic or tin wrap for freezer storage. It works great.
You can google up small companies in Alaska who ship fresh, frozen salmon direct to your door.
Farmed salmon are raised in pens and the waste falls directly to the bottom beneath them where it forms a layer that attracts many bacteria and other parasites. These farmed salmon have a far higher bacteria count than wild salmon - not good for something like gravlax. Not good at all...
Oh, if your store is selling "wild" salmon, one quick way to tell if they are really farmed is to just look at a number of them. If they are uniform in size and color, then they are farmed. Or perhaps you might see them in in only two sizes - male and female.
Wild fish vary considerably in length and girth. The flesh will have different tones from pale orange to dark red.
Oh, one other way to tell the difference occurs to me. All farmed Pacific salmon are Coho (sometimes called Silvers).
So if you see King (chinook) or Sockeye (Red) salmon, you can be assured it's wild fish. You wouldn't want to buy the chum (dog) salmon or Pinks for something like gravlax.
Of course, all commercially sold Atlantic salmon are farmed.
Keith, in Alaska
maybe i am biased....
but if you want to be authentic surely it has to be from the region the recipie comes from.
great site by the way.
How to know if the salmon bought in the supermarket was frozen long enough or at all?
Can you use regular iodized table salt?
Like the post above, How long does it stay good in the refridgerator after?
Thank you all
Ask your fishmonger at the supermarket. They will know the source of the fish and whether it has been deep frozen.
A tricky question to answer properly. I'll be conservative and say two weeks plus some common sense (If it starts to smell different, then it's probably not worth it to risk continuing to eat it).
It was easy and delish. Big, juicy and anchovie-like, smooth textured treats!
I served them with shots of Ouzo and a sauce made from roasted red pepper paste, tomato paste, olive oil, lemon, oregano and garlic, on toasted "artisan" bread. The liquorishy sweet taste of the Ouzo compliments the intensely salty taste of the fillets.
The recipe I used did not call for refridgerating or gutting the fish during the salting, but I did both since I am still a squeamish American.
Most salmon fillets come in a sealed, vacuum packed bag. You should first check if the package is air tight. Vacuum packing protects the product from air and the elements. The fillet should be tightly wrapped if vacuumed packed. If the fillet freely moves inside the package, the vacuum seal has been compromised. A clear sign that the package seal has been broken is evidence of ice crystals inside the package. Next, look for secondary freezing. Second freezing occurs during the shipping process. During international shipping, cargo boxes are opened and inspected. The fillets that are on the top of the crates are exposed to outdoor heat. Though the time exposed to outdoor heat maybe minimum, it is enough to de-thaw the outside of fillets exposed to it. Though the fillets maybe in sealed packages, you should look for evidence of discolored skin on the outer edges. Freezer burn is an act of over freezing or improper freezing. If the fillet has a shine of green-gold it is subject to freezer burn. Freezer burn fillets are edible if the damaged flesh is removed.
When buying in a frozen section of a grocery store, always look for a fillet that is pink-orange in color with no sign of discoloring on the edges. Asking a assistant about the origins of the salmon is futile. Always look for clues and clear signs that that fillet is edible and decent to make gravlax.
I got a FoodSaver vacuum sealer for my birthday and have been using it quite a bit for a variety of things. Reading through this thread, I realized that it might offer some advantages. Of course, there has also been discussion about cheesecloth and letting gravlax breathe - so a process sans O2 might not be such a hot idea. Plus, would the lack of air inhibit the aromatic properties of the dill? I just don't know. I did find one reference to doing this on the web, so I decided to give it a try....
I stayed basically true to the original recipe given here. 8oz salmon, 15g salt, 15g sugar, 2g pepper. I recalled seeing Daniel Boulud making gravlax on television and took a tip from him to make the salt layer a little thinner where the fillet tapers off.
The packaged dill was labled at 3/4oz and seemed to be about the right amount. I used some plastic wrap just to help me to keep everything together until it was in the vacuum bag.
Edit (Michael - 2008/09/07): DEAD IMAGE
Then I put the FoodSaver to it....
Edit (Michael - 2008/09/07): DEAD IMAGE
Under vaccum it appears that there is excellent contact to the salt and dill. I'll also have zero problems with juices running around since everything is sealed. I'll probably turn it a few times just because I can.
I haven't marinated anything under vacuum yet, but the vaccum is supposed to speed up the marinating process. I'm wondering if this might apply to curing as well. I'm not going to make that assumption though, so I'll leave it for 2-3 days. Then I'll open it up and be very cautious in evaluating the results.
I have a few more pics, but I don't think they'll add much to the discussion. I can post them if anyone cares, but I don't see the need to bother.
On or about day two, some juices started to appear in the bag. And that's pretty much where it stayed. I doubt that there was more than a teaspoon worth of juices even after another day.
Upon debagging (after three days), there were no off odors. The smell of dill was still readily apparent. The flesh had firmed up significantly. I removed the dill, washed the fish and made a test slice. It looked right. Everything seemed right. So I sliced off another thin piece and took a taste....
Very salty. I'll now generally agree with others that less salt might be good. HOWEVER, when I put a slice on a little disk of white bread quickly grilled in olive oil and topped with a little dab of sour cream, everything balanced out quite nicely indeed. So, in the end, I think the salt debate has to be related to what you're planning to do with the finished product.
As to the dill, I'm undecided. The flavor is there, but it's quite subtle. I think it works for me because a lot of dill influence wouldn't necessarily be a good thing. For me, dill is good only in small doses. Still, I'm left with the feeling that it should have had more of an effect. If there's any negative effect of the vacuum sealing technique, I think it would be here. No air, no aromatic effect.
Phase two of the experiment is to cryovac half the yield and freeze it. I've done that, and will report back on the results.
My favorite salmon for cooking is Yukon River king salmon (seasonal) or Bruce Gore's frozen king salmon (available year-round).
To make gravlax, I choose an organically-raised Atlantic salmon from the Shetland Islands. This product has a wonderful texture, high oil content and I can use it without freezing because the fish has never been exposed to parasites during its life-cycle as with a wild fish that began its life in fresh river water.
As with any type of farming, there are various methods - some better than others. Aquaculture is not going away and like it or not, it is necessary to satisfy the demand for fish worldwide. There is so much variation with "wild" salmon - the species are very different plus the quality can vary significantly depending on where and when it was caught, what it ate and how it was handled during processing. It can be some of the best fish ever... and some of the worst.
I read quite a few non-factual or misleading statements in the earlier posts. Rather than single them out, I encourage everyone to develop a relationship with their local fishmonger and do yourself a favor by learning the facts and gathering information from all sides of the story.
Is this an artifact, or is this something we should be looking for to differentiate wild and farmed salmon?
Is this an artifact, or is this something we should be looking for to differentiate wild and farmed salmon?
Farmed salmon is *almost* always Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) and wild-caught salmon is *almost* always Pacific salmon, of the genus Oncorhynchus, which include king/Chinook, Sockeye/red and Coho/silver.
These are VERY different fish. The coarseness you see in the farmed salmon is due to its natural texture plus its fat content (like the marbling of beef) which can be dramatically higher than any of the wild fish other than a king salmon that is ready to spawn. This fat contains high amounts of healthy Omega-3 oils and is what makes the fish rich and buttery.
I have never had the opportunity to see the flesh of a wild Atlantic salmon, as they are no longer commercially harvested. I would imagine the texture would be similar, but it is likely to be leaner than the aquacultured fish. When you compare wild-caught king salmon to aquacultured king salmon, the only obvious difference is the shape of the fish. The flesh is remarkably similar.
In comparison, as wild salmon is currently out-of-season, any fish in the market this time of the year has been frozen. A majority of it is Sockeye, which has about 1/3 the oil content of Atlantic salmon. The freezing process softens the flesh considerably plus it is relatively lean, so it would be difficult to notice much of a "grain pattern" in this more delicately-textured fish.
The other thing was the question of can you "grav" other fish. The answer is yes. Very popular gravning here (in addition to salmon) is whitefish. It's just delicious.
As for the recipe's, my grandmother said that she always puts the salt first, then the sugar as the salt doesn't get absorbed as well if the sugar is mixed or put before.
About the saltiness, it sounds like you've let your fish be in the fridge too long. 2 days is a bit long. Next time try 36 hours. If it's still too salty, try 24 hours. Remember that if you use fresh fish from the ocean , the length of the gravning is a matter of taste just like the spices (juniper berries, cognac, akvavit, crushed red peppercorns). Sea-caught fresh salmon can be eaten raw if you like (sashimi, sushi anyone?).
I'm not sure I'm ready to risk using fresh wild salmon or other anadromous fish for my gravlax, though. One of my fellow fishmongers ended up in the emergency room when he began passing a tapeworm he presumably got from eating raw fresh wild salmon. He thought he was losing his intestines. Not an experience I am eager to have!
Here is some interesting information from the Alaska office of Epidemiology on salmon tapeworms.
Although the salting process *may* kill tapeworms, there are other helminthic parasites in wild salmon that are only destroyed by cooking or freezing.
On the other hand, I did have a customer once who told me about a parisitic infection she got in the Caribbean, but said the ceviche was so wonderful she would eat it again but next time would take the antiparasitic drugs first ;)
-10C (14F) for 72 hours will do the trick, not -10F (-23C) for at least 7 days as stated in the gravlax recipe. Why the difference?
If this works for raw salmon, wouldn't it work for any meat, even chicken?
If you are freezing fish in a home freezer, it's going to take longer than it would in a colder, more efficient commercial freezer. Both the FDA and EU have guidelines for freezing fish and of course they don't agree with each other. It's interesting that the Alaska office of Epidemiology doesn't go with the FDA guidelines.
Farmed salmon are given the carotenoids canthaxanthin and astaxanthin along with their feed. Wild salmon naturally get these same pigments from their diet (e.g. shellfish). So I would assume all salmon, wild or not, would test positive for this "dye".
If you use regular table or iodized salt, it is much finer than kosher salt. This means that the salmon will absorb much more of the salt and you will end up with a saltier finished product. The general rule in cooking is that when you substitute a fine salt for a coarse salt, you should use half the amount of fine salt that you would use of coarse salt.
If you are finding that your gravlax is too salty for your taste, look at the salt that you are using. Try using a coarse salt or reducing the amount of fine salt that you use.
Hope this helps you make your gravlax better.
I had salted my salmon filets before I found your site...It had only been a day so then I went and somewhat followed your recipe. I took out the salmon last night (it was time). it is now OVERLY salty...almost to the point of making the salmon hard and not silky. Can I soak it in water for a few days to remove the salt? What else can I do or do I have to toss it and go back to the drawing board?
P.S. I used kosher salt
My expectation is that soaking in water for a long time will not reduce the saltiness enough and will result in undesirable textures. If it's not TOO bad, you can slice the gravlax really thin and serve with mild tasting foods - a piece of bread, some cream cheese, cucumbers, anything to cut down on the saltiness.
To address the concern about texture, I'd think you would want to do what is called a "cold smoke" method where you keep the temp down to 100 deg. F or lower, as opposed to the 200-225 range you'd normally shoot for.
To use your charcoal grill and regulate temp, use a quick read meat thermometer. Push it through a cork and put the cork in one of the holes in the lid to secure it. You can leave it there and monitor what's happening without opening the lid and having big fluctuations in temp and smoke. It won't take much fire at all. I wouldn't think the process would take very long either.
The store didn't have fresh dill at all, so I was forced to resort to dried herbs. I can report that they do work to flavor the fish, but it is difficult to wash them off afterwards. A bit of the top of the salmon where it touched the dried herbs had poor texture as a result. This might be avoided by placing a layer of cheesecloth/butter muslin between the salmon and the herbs (after the salt and sugar are added).
I weighted the salmon down unevenly. After a day, when I turned the salmon, I noticed a significant difference in firmness between the weighted and unweighted sides. I suspect that most people will like the weighted version, but others (those who prefer the texture of sushi salmon to that of lox salmon) may like the unweighted version better. I preferred the weighted version in this case.
The center of the fillet was less salty than the top, even after washing.
I may have tested too many things at once in this initial go, but I believe I can make the following notes:
* If quality salmon cannot be acquired, low-quality frozen salmon still makes gravlax comparable to store-bought (though not much better).
* Dry herbs can be used, but may cause the top layer of meat to acquire an undesirable texture.
* Weighting the salmon does make a difference, but whether it's better is a matter of personal preference.
* The top of the fillet is best served in a setting that will offset the saltiness, but the center can more easily be eaten straight.
I wonder if anyone has tried multiple methods of adding smoke flavor (liquid smoke, cold smoking, lapsang souchong in the herb mix) and can comment in the differences?
The article says he used 3 Tbsp. salt and 3 Tbsp. sugar since the cut was 1.5 pounds... It says use 2 Tbsp. of each for each 1lb. of filet
Thanks Olga :)
Does anyone know what the white film is that sometimes erupts on the surface of gravlax? I don't think it's a spoiler. Some kind of impurity maybe? Because I just wash it off and the gravlax is perfectly fine, and there is no off odor.
I do like wild salmon for many things, but as someone here has pointed out, wild salmon comes from entirely different species (found in the Pacific). The wonderful thing about Atlantic salmon, especially for gravlax, is the high fat content, which makes a satiny, rich taste and mouth-feel you probably can't get with Pacific salmon. Plus, Atlantic salmon doesn't have as many of the pin bones you find in Coho or Sockeye, which can make it difficult to produce those paper-thin slices you want. Slicing the salmon is very pleasing. I think in another life I might have worked the smoked fish counter at Zabar's in New York.
As for ingredients, salmon, sugar, salt and dill are all you need. A little bit of pepper is okay too. That's it! No gin, no allspice, no lemon, whatever. It's like a martini. Gin and a little vermouth, that's all. These "chocotinis" and such may taste good to some, but they ain't martinis. Same with gravlax. It must be coarse salt, not the stuff you put in a salt shaker. Otherwise it will be too salty.
I believe in the weighting and turning. The weighting is indispensable. It compacts the flesh, making it denser and just better. The turning may not be essential, but why not do it? It's nice to check on it and handle it from time to time. It's a while since I have made it, though I used to do every year. This year I have done it in one layer, not the traditional sandwich, and we will see if it makes a difference. Akvavit is the best accompaniment, possibly with a beer chaser, though some say Champagne is good too. I like it on Finn Crisp or Wasa bread, but it is also good on dark German pumpernickel. My mother always used to make the mustard sauce, but I think the fish tastes so good unadorned, I don't bother with it anymore. Maybe a very thin slice of lemon. No capers or any of that, if you want green vegetables, get them somewhere else.
Happy Chrimbo to all!
Also, more is better and preparing a gravlax 'sandwich' with the dill in the middle, pieces flipped for better fit, just makes economical sense. Finally, I have always used a weight (flexible ankle exercise weighs wrapped in plastic for sanity purposes) which advances the curing process to just 2 days and speeds the extraction of liquid. Suggest removing the liquid as it goes since getting rid of it is in in part what the process is all about. A bit of cracked pepper, especially white, adds an additional but traditional angle to the salf-sugar mixture.
I have worked in Sweden a number of times, and my approach is based on in situ tasting including a Saint Lucia (pre-Christmas) smorgasbord.
gravlax, so I tried it. It is wonderful! Thank you for the
1. Many have complained about the degree of saltiness in their preparations, and the perceived wisdom appears to be - less salt, or less cure time. It occurs to me that the stroger concentration of salt will be located at the point of entry, namely the skinned side of the filet. However, if we skin the entire filet and apply the rub evenly to both sides, aren't we likely to get a more even distribution throughout the filet, whereby we can control the degree of saltinedd by cure time alone?
2. In reviewing all of the comments, there appears to be no mention of the role sugar plays in the curing rub. Does sugar contribute to the cure-rate? Since, to my knowledge, there is no such thing as kosher sugar or seasugar, is there an agreed-to preference of brown over white, or vis versa?
3. For those who prefer a smokey flavor, more typically redolent of lox, would a light brushing of liquid smoke to both sides of the filet, prior to the administration of the rub, do the trick?
Wonderful site, and very interesting reading. I am in your debt.[/b]
I have not personally done fish; here's a tidbit about the role of salt & sugar
Chemical action of curing
Salt inhibits the growth of spoilage-causing microorganisms by drawing water out of microbial cells through osmosis. As the unwanted bacterial population decreases, other beneficial bacteria, primarily of the Lactobacillus genus, come to the fore and generate an acidic environment (around 4.5 pH). The sugar included in the cure is used as food by the lactobacilli; generally dextrose is preferred over sucrose, or table sugar, because it seems to be more thoroughly consumed by the bacteria. This process is in fact a form of fermentation, and, in addition to reducing further the ability of the spoilage bacteria to grow, accounts for the tangy flavor of some cured products. Concentrations of salt up to 20% are required to kill most species of unwanted bacteria. Smoking adds chemicals to the surface of an item which affect the ability of bacteria to grow, inhibit oxidation (and thus rancidity), and improve flavor.
on the smokiness, liquid smoke is concentrated, the curing will further concentrate the volume/flavor, so I would proceed with some caution there.
Second, the recipe posted here works well, but can be simplified. I skin the fish (Coho works great) and put the sugar/salt mixture on both sides. Sandwich the fish between dill and weight down with another dish. Turn at 24 hours, draining any liquid that collects, and it is usually done in 48 hours. If you want to add smoke flavor, use Hickory smoke flavored salt (1:4 of the amount of salt or sugar you use for curing).
I had a beautiful slab of salmon and decided to make some gravlax for my Swedish fiancee. I put everything together Sunday night and due to our crazy schedules, we haven't had a chance to dig into this yet (Thursday). We were just invited to a cookout on Sunday and I thought we could bring this for everyone to enjoy, but am worried about the final product being too salty after sitting there for a week. Should we rinse it now and just leave it tightly wrapped in the refrigerator until Sunday? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
unwrap it and wipe off any excess salt, etc., but do not "rinse" it -
....didn't taste like - well, in USA, every backyard chef has his own burger recipe and in Sweden there are at least four gravlax recipes per household.
the fish: wild or farmed? species? big big differences there.
then there's the "secret" ingredients . . .
I used to travel to Goteborg 2-3 times a year and colleagues often gave me a nice 'homemade' chunk to take with . . .
regrets, you can't get it past USDA inspectors so I would always try to schedule things where I visited other European colleagues post Sweden so we could enjoy the bounty.
everyone does it different!
Has anybody ever tried it without skin? I realize it's easier to slice with the skin, but I think maybe I'm on to something? Anybody got anything?
I've been making gravlax for over twenty years using salmon and trout near my home in Ontario, Canada. After reading some of the previous questions and comments, I would like to add some minor suggestions.
Salmon or trout can be gravlaxed skinned or unskinned. Obviously skinned fillets are better for slicing, but unskinned fillets can be sliced using a sharp knife and a bit of hand pressure behind the knife.
I have made gravlax using farmed Atlantic salmon, chum (dog), pink, chinook, coho, rainbow trout, and steelhead. I've even made gravlax from freshly caught land locked Atlantics I managed to catch while in Canada. Of all, oily salmon works the best (Atlantics). Pacific salmon tend to gravlax saltier than Atlantic salmon. I believe it is because they are not an oily fleshed salmon. When preparing mixures for Pacific salmon, it's a good idea to reduce the salt content a bit.
Sugar is important. White sugar is pure sugar, while brown sugar is mixed with molasses. If you use brown sugar, the molasses will over power the flavor of the final product. I suggest using a mix of white and brown if you wish to use brown sugar.
Salt is more important than sugar. Table salt will work, but it's not recommended. If you can get naturally evaporated sea salt, you can grind it down and use that. Otherwise, stay away from salt that has iodine.
The finished product really needs to be washed after curing. The fillet has been resting in a pool of salt, sugar, and extracted fish fluid for 48 hours. I place my fillets in an ice bath for 5 minutes after finishing the cure time. This not only washes the fillet, but it will remove the salty taste if you had out too much salt in the cure.
I hope this helps some that have questions about making gravlax. There are hundreds of recipes out there with just as many opinions about how to make gravlax. The best way is trial and error. That's how most learn.
Good luck and enjoy your next slice of gravlax
I have never heard of gravlax (not sure of spelling seems to be take your pick) before I came across this recipe so I have nothing to compare it with. For a large salmon cut in half and all those little bones plucked out lay the first side skin down on some cling film or foil and pour about 2 tbs of gin over it then combine 50 grms sea salt 2 tbs peppercorns 75 grms sugar and 1 tbs of juniper berries in a pestle and mortar and grind up then spread the mixture all over the fish. A large handful of fennel fronds is layed on top then pour almost all the gin over it lay the other side on top and pour the rest of the gin over. Then wrap the film or foil over to keep all the liquid in and put it in a large pan I used my grill pan with a board and a brick on top. 4 Days later wipe clean and enjoy.
I forgot to buy dill so I`don't know what I am missing.
All the best
The result is a nicely browned and crisped skin, with cooked salmon underneath. Delicious, and it uses a part of the salmon that people otherwise might just toss out or ignore. When it is cooked, and laid on the same plate for smorgabord it looks quite inviting and I get a lot of compliments for it, some from raw fish fans, some from the adventurous, some from people who are nervous about raw fish and appreciate something a bit Japanese in feeling as an alternative.
My family has always stacked it and pressed it, 50% 50% salt and sugar, tons of dill laid out on bottom, between filets and on top, under the board held in place by rubber bands.
Almost as much fun as Jannsen's Temptation, as long as you use enough of the right kind of anchovies for that dish and bite the bullet and use cream instead of skim milk or something namby-pamby like that. Christmas is but once a year.
Just as a note for those that do not like the idea of eating "raw" fish. I have taken a portion of the gravlas and poached it for a few seconds after it has been cured. The taste stays delicate and delicious but the texture is totally different. Though this really diminishes the whole gravlax experience, having both kinds available, it becomes a dish that appeals to all of my guests.
Compare the taste of kosher salt to ordinary table salt. Kosher salt is brighter and cleaner tasting. Taste some sodium iodide. Blechhh!
If a person didn't want to use Kosher salt, they could probably use pickling salt or sea salt - just read the label to make sure the salt does not contain iodine.
We need iodine in our diet, but you may be getting enough from your daily multivitamin or your casual use of table salt on other foods.
Regarding Pastrami-style lox -- Pastrami is beef brisket that is brined (cured, just like our lox) and then seasoned with a generous coating of various herbs and spices (such as garlic, coriander, black pepper, paprika, cloves, allspice, mustard seed, and others). There is no "right way," so experiment! Use the spices you like, and tweak it until you really like the result you get.
"Traditional" graavlax or lox didn't use juniper berries or cilantro, but that doesn't mean you can't try it. Likewise with using a light rubdown with gin or akvavit or tequila or flavored vodka. Maybe a *light* coating of sriracha chile paste would be worthy adventure. My own method would be to use a little of the new flavoring. Flavors are best when they are subtle rather than an axe-handle smash to the face.
Regarding honey -- Why not? (see above.) Honey could be used with sugar or in place of sugar. One great thing about honey is that it is anti-microbial. The taste of a honey lox might be unorthodox, but that doesn't mean it would be bad. Keep in mind that there are also many different kinds of honey with their own characteristic flavors.
Regarding "to smoke or not to smoke"? -- graavlax isn't smoked. Nova Scotia lox is cold-smoked after it is cured. I really like the idea of trying the lapsang suchong tea - it is a tea that is smoked with pine. I get this image of Chinese Tea-Smoked Duck meets graavlax. (I know that for the duck, regular tea leaves are burned for the smoke.)
Regarding other fish to cure -- sardines have been mentioned. Herring and mackerel should also work, as would black cod (Sable). I don't know if tuna would work, but nothing says we can't try it. I would strongly suggest not doing this with Fugu (pufferfish) though.
Bear in mind that cured and pickled foods like graavlax, lutefisk and hakarl, were primarily SURVIVAL FOODS that helped some human tribes make it through a winter when fresher, tastier foods were not available. Our ancestors learned how to fortify the friendly lactobacilli in their gut by making these foods, along with sauerkraut, kim chee, takuan radish and many other fragrant "delicacies." Enjoy them all.
Lastly, there is a GREAT dish called lomi-lomi salmon that is like a lox-ceviche-tomato-onion salad. Oh God, is it good!
I find that "docking"(piercing) the flesh side fish with a fork improves penetration
A suggestion that approaches " cold smoking ".... spray on or paint on a light coat of liquid hickory smoke prior to patting on the dry ingrdients. This infuses a light smokey flavor that blends with the classic nova lox.
Another minor hint is to put a pan of salt in your Weber when smoking BBQ and you end up with "smoked salt" that can be used in this recipie or any other where a light smokey flavor would enhance indoor grilling
Two pieces of salmon, first piece goes skin down and the second on top of it, skin up. I place very thin slices of lime in between the fillets, along with the dill/parsley/cilantro choice and salt/sugar/white pepper mixture.
I do pour about one shot of flavorless vodka on each fillet, before putting the fillets together. It simply helps with curing. You don't taste any alcohol whatsoever once lox is done.
I put the herbs on the bottom, in the middle and on top. I do place weights on top and I do turn it once or twice, spill the liquid, while at it.
Mine is ready to eat in 36 hours. I think the vodka speeds it up.
P.S. I've also made it successfully with Splenda, with no one noticing any difference!
Hope it helps,
steel head trout - as best I've been able to research - is genetically the same fish as a fresh water trout - but has adapted to a fresh water / sea water life cycle. the other major difference noted is steel head do not die after spawning as salmon. they do return to their headwaters to spawn, but after spawning, return to the sea.
salmon and trout are genetically "kissing cousins" - but you are spot on - the coloration of steel head is very close to the the color of salmon. but one must keep in mind "wild" salmon vs. "farmed" salmon. farmed salmon is usually fed a diet with color agents. those agents are most often "natural" substances - it's essentially like eating a lot of carrots will turn you orange (extreme, but true....)
I've never seen "farmed" steel head on offer - don't know if such a thing as "farmed" steel head even exists. steel head is really a fish eating treat.
I suspect, but have no first hand experience, you could easily interchange the two - salmon & steel head trout - and only the well seasoned palate could distinguish.
I also made both gravlax and sashimi with it, both turned out pretty well.
I have one question about the gravlax that I made this week following the excellent instruction posted at this site.
I was concerned about something however. The fillet I used was about 30mm at its thickest point. I was a little worried that the "curing" process might not penetrate deeply enough from the fleshy side or effectively enough through the skin side. That is, I wondered if the 'meat' nearest to the skin would still be raw salmon or have been adequately converted into gravlax.
is there a litmus test to know if the process has worked sufficiently? Is there a thickness to which the salmon should be limited.
Thank you for allowing this novice to post the question.
[By the way, it was served at a party a few hours ago and everyone loved it!]
hmmm, emperically I'd guess "no" - unless you making one of the "instant" recipes.
traditionally it's done with the entire side of a salmon - they get pretty big!
Then wrapping with plastic wrap works fine and then into a glass baking oblong. I then take another glass baking oblong of the same dimension and place it upside down on top of everything and weight it with a brick (or once with an antique flat iron) once the weight is in the upper oblong, mash it uniformly to facilitate slicing later on. Refrigerate it. Turn it when ever you think of it and in 2 days it is done. The salty brine mixture facilitates the cure by drawing water out of the fish and the sugar takes the bite of the salt. The only pure salt is outside the skin and intermingled with the fennel while remaining away from the flesh. It gets pretty wetly briny and most of the bacteria have burst their placentas due to the salt induced osmosis and greatly compromised. If you want you can keep it in for another day that is OK too.
Slicing is important and must be as thin as humanly possible and at no more than a 15-20 degree angle so that you can achieve a piece that is razor thin and about 5 inches measured along the backbone. Be deft while separating the slice from the skin because the meat near the skin is more fragile.
A good piece of rough grain bread with a cardiac inducing smor of unsalted fresh butter will produce a delightful sensation you can feel in your ears. The second bite is sheer glutinous excess. It is really not necessary to obsess over keeping it, for it will be gone in short order.
1. Wash your hands thoroughly, then briefly wash the filet in cool water and pat dry. Next, I wash the filet with brandy or any neutral spirits (skip the dark highly flavored whiskeys) prior to curing. I do this by putting the filet in a large baking pan and pouring the alcohol over it, again, patting it dry before adding the salt and sugar cure.
2. Always use skin on filets to avoid the saltiness..curing both sides is too much!
3. The thin tail end will always be salty. I start serving from the thick end, and usually end up having the salty thin end left over. I use that sauteed for an omelette or scrambled eggs later.
4. I have tried many methods of wrap. The vacuum food saver bag is by far the easiest and most uniform method with consistent results
5. Farm raised slamon is by far oilier than wild...in fact I prefer the taste ..the wild salmon tends to get dry during curing..no purist here.
6. For winter celebrations I use the straight cure- 48 hours, in summer for barbeques I use only half the cure time, add a liberal dusting of fresh ground black pepper after washing, and then do a flash smoke on a soaked cedar plank on my grill or in my smoker, using hickory dust. I do not allow the fish to "cook". It is wonderful and is always requested when I ask what I can bring to a party.
I have a vacuum sealer, so what I did this time was to take two fillets and sandwich the dill in between, then slide the whole thing into a bag and sealed it up. I'll report back in a few days. :-)
This will depend on the thickness of the fish. I did two batches this year. The recipe was similar to yours, except I'm a traditionalist and had two fillets against each other, used weights and turned the fish every day (for three days)
I had about 1 kg of fish in both cases, and based on the pictures, they were a lot thicker than yours, maybe 3-4 cm.
The first batch was pressed down really hard, with strings that were tightened after each turn. By the third day, the thickness of the fish had been reduced by about 25%.
The second batch had "only" 1.2 kg of weights on top of it. It didn't compress noticeably.
The first batch had cured throughout and had proper firm-jelly texture. In the second batch, the bottom 1 cm of the fillets hadn't cured completely and were a bit chewy.
Also, the first batch had produced a lot more brine during the process.
So, with thicker cuts, weights (or strings) are very important.
I use 1 kg of sea salt (fine grit) and 500 g white "normal" sugar, mixed with 40 g fresh tarragon, 40 g fresh coriander and 40 g fresh peppermint all minced, 10 g coriander powder, zest of 1 lemon and zest of one lime, 1 tsp of black pepper (if I can´t find fresh tarragon I use dill instead), and small amount of smoked salt (10g for 2 Kg salmon)
Just lay the salmon skin down on a tray to collect the water and oil , spead the smoked salt over the flesh and then add the mixture above on the top of the fish. Put some aluminium foil over it and a couple of cans to press the filet. You don´t need any plastic because there is no smell at all with this mixture. Put it on the refrigerator for 2 days and it's done. Take it off, wash with running water, dry with paper and cut thin, discarding the first slice because it's too salty. For a bigger piece of fish it can take 3 days. Serve with 2 sauces: a mixture of Dijon and whole mustard (ŕ l'ancienne) and creme fraiche with dill, lime zest, chopped challot or spring oignon and parsley.
With the other alf (if you are giving a party) replace smoked salt for 40 g of curry powder and eliminate tarragon. Now you have 2 totally different marinated fishes.
He did a whole salmon, and left the skin on both sides and sandwiched them with the meat in the middle. This is what was inbetween the fillets: He did say equal parts salt and sugar generously on each side. He had fresh cracked black pepper, probably a few T of good vodka, a bunch of lemon and orange zest (I used 4 large lemons, 3 blood oranges and 2 navels), a couple T of fennel seeds and a handful of star anise, diced celery, and a good amount of dill and parsley. He said you can change up the herbs or seeds/spices to your taste, but I did it as he did.
He didn't say anything about freezing before or after making it, but as advised above I'll put it in the freezer for 3-4 days after to be sure, after which I'll report back!
salmon can carry parasites that affect humans - freezing is one method to reduce the risk of transmission but do note the required time/temp:
-4F / -20C for seven days or -31F / -35C for 15 hours.
few home freezers can provide the -31F temps, so you'll like want to use the seven days.
and for households with pets, raw fish/salmon can be dangerous to fatal for pets:
the dill is a traditional / conventional flavoring - you can swap it out with something else or leave it out altogether.
on the oily/sticky - did you rinse the lox prior to service?
The herbs sound interesting. But there's no right way -- accept that your home-made non-industrial batch will be what it will be. Find out how much salt works for you; if too salty, use less. I turn my fillets daily, spooning the juice over them to keep them moist. Tasting little slices from the thin end and the sides, which look too brown anyhow, rinsed with water, gives me an idea of the saltiness, and how long I should rinse the fillet before patting it dry between paper towels on newsprint. Oh, when starting, after taking out the pin bones I rinse the fillets and pat them dry before rubbing in the curing mix. The constant touching is important: making gravlax I feel I am participating in some ancient and important ritual, rather than merely cooking a recipe out of a book.
Regards to all!
as least in USA, those kinds of "label failures" would be inviting a lot of trouble.
odds are the commercial folks have spent a lot of time and effort to pin down all the variables to "perfect" their process - moisture level of fish, etc.
they probably also have much better control over the process than the average home kitchen.
and that ignores stuff like "irradiated" for preservation . . .
I honestly thought I was going to botch-up the recipe. So I was extra careful in following all the steps. I filleted the salmon myself because it was cheaper that way.
And what can I say? The results are fabulous!! Can't tell the difference between store bought and the one I made.
This time I used a 1:1 ratio of salt and sugar - and it was a bit salty. Next time I'll use the recommended 1:2 ratio of salt and sugar. The overkill with dill is important for the authentic flavour.
The end result is amazing. Husband and I are going to try and finish it in 3-4 days, but I suspect it'll stay well in the fridge for a great deal longer. Possibly 10 days or so.
The entire curing process was done in the fridge... we Canadians like to err on the side of caution. I'll be leaving it in the fridge for the rest of it's life that will be made short by me and my husband.
don't feel bad about the dill - (....long story omitted) I can't stand sage, it's not I've never had it - I had so flippin' much of it I never want to see/smell/taste the stuff again!
now,,, dill I like (g)
Val, how does the texture of the salmon change as the weeks progress?
my understanding is the one-weekish thing is out of sanitary concerns with homespun stuff - i.e. going fuzzy in the fridge.....
obviously "commercially prepped" stuff can be 'sterilized' - irradiation, etc.
does make one wonder how humans survived all this time . . .
for some basic info.
so far as making gravlax, freeze for the prescribed time, thaw & then prepare.
there is a theory that the salt will kill parasites but I've not found any research to back that up.
that said, "sushi" grade should be the best quality - fat content, condition of the flesh, color, etc.
is sushi grade required for gravlax and its cousins? personally I think not, but that's a subjective opinion. some of the best I've had was homemade by Swedes - caught local - and not "graded" at all other than "how big you want?"
"fresh" and in excellent condition - whether never frozen or frozen at sea - is the key thing. if you watch the fillets in the fish counter, after 2-3 days you'll notice the flesh starts to fall apart - small "tears" typically in the thickest portion. not good stuff at that point. fresh or freshly thawed, the fish flesh should be firm and intact.
if your market typically carries fillets - ask them if you can buy them still frozen. I frequent buy fish frozen and thaw at home - no questions about how long it's been sitting around "on ice" - then again, when I ask the nice lady who has been at the counter for ten+ years "so how's the xxx?" I'll get an enthusiastic good, or a shrug or a wrinkled nose. tells me all I need to know . . .
This is where the issue become a bit more complex. The standard of -4°F for 7 days is recommended by the US FDA, which is why we generally provide that as our one line recommendation. This standard errs on the side of caution. Studies have shown that many anisakid larvae (the main form of parasite we're concerned with) die at 0°F after just 24 hours. Another complication to all of this is exactly what you were leading up to: why aren't more people sick? Well, it turns out that seafood-borne parasitic worms (nematodes / anisakids) don't live all that well in mammalian guts. We just aren't all that compatible. The larvae usually die within a day to a week and never get the chance to mature. For most people, they won't even feel any discomfort. For others (where the worms stay alive a little longer), it's a prolonged stomach ache or sharp lasting pain that goes away within the week. It is rarely fatal unless the individual has a severe allergic reaction to the parasite.
So, armed with this information, it's a little bit of risk analysis. Following the US FDA recommendation of -4°F for 7 days (or -31°F for 15 hours), you'll be extremely safe. Freezing in your 0°F freezer will help, but might not be as safe as -4°F (and is certainly better than not freezing at all). If you still don't feel comfortable, just ask your fishmonger for salmon that has been frozen. The fish that is frozen on the fishing vessels and kept frozen to the market are almost certainly flash frozen and kept at -4°F or below to preserve quality and texture. Don't be afraid to ask your fishmonger what temperature his freezer is set to for your peace of mind.
every time i've made it using this fish, it's been praised...so much so that several friends now make their own...
Red Snapper range from Massachusetts down to Florida and west through the Gulf of Mexico to the Yucatan and the Caribbean.
so exactly how is red snapper available more fresher than Atlantic salmon in Pakistan?
This is my new venture into the world of Gravlax. I drasticly cut down the salt while increasing sugar dramaticly. Brown sugar is the way to go folks. No dill, I did add a slight bit of liqued smoke combined with a touch of Jamacian Jerk and just a bit of Old bay seasoning. After enclosing into a Vacumed sealed plasic bag something seemed amiss and then it hit me. I forgot to wrap the entire concoction tightly in Cheesecloth. The means in which i keep all the spices and flavors ground into the flesh. Instead it was sitting there in all its see through glory looking every bit store bought. Well there it is and there it will be. That was two days ago and looking into the clear window, I see liquid collecting and slowing moving over the fillet when moved. Got a day or two left and i'll try to report back with the results. Looking for a more Lox like product. It has worked for me before but thought i'd try a few changes this time. [/i:2572051376][/b:2572051376]
What if my freezer can reach only 0 degrees Fahrenheit: I know there might still be parasites. I am curious... on this. 100's or even thousands of years... if people were to eat Gravlax without any form of refrigeration how do they survive? I would like to make it myself but to buy a special freezer to make it is insanely expensive. any suggestions? I am just going to do it. freeze it still for 7 days [without reaching that level only] and cure it.
What I do is this: I purchase Wild caught frozen Sockeye Salmon. Why? Because I was told after asking that it came into the store that way, Frozen solid. It is sold frozen solid. This was a supermarket so the next question was if this fish spent anytime in their deep freezer and just how deep was it? They were 20 under 0 degrees. I then asked them how long had they had the fish. They showed me the date received. After that I came to a conclusion that at some time and at one time for sure this fish had been under conditions fatal to parasites and so now, that's where I buy my planks. I and my family have never had a tummy ache or any other sickness in regards to this Food. Now, In reference to your statement that: I am just going to do it. freeze it still for 7 days [without reaching that level only] and cure it.
Well, let us know how that works out for you and good luck.[/i:fe95dc65a0][/b:fe95dc65a0]
if the fish has already been frozen, I would not recommend freezing it again.
I've forgotten the exact specifics, but I think 0'F is workable - it's x days at minus something or y days at something warmer than that -
What if my freezer can reach only 0 degrees Fahrenheit: I know there might still be parasites. I am curious... on this. 100's or even thousands of years... if people were to eat Gravlax without any form of refrigeration how do they survive?
As I've mentioned before, most people don't get sick because seafood-borne parasites do not, in general, survive well in mammals. Some people will get stomach aches or pain that lasts about a week. A smaller group of people may have an allergic reaction to the parasites which can lead to fatality depending on the severity of the illness. The curing process can also reduce the surviving parasites and thus the incidence of illness from consuming this type of food. Chances are, some people were getting mildly sick over the last thousand years, but they were probably getting more sick from unclean drinking water, etc. and dealing with those problems was a higher priority.
20 F degrees under 0°F or 20 C degrees under 0°C? At -20°C, the fish is considered safe by the US FDA from parasitic worms after 7 days. At -20°C (-4°F), the fish would be safe sooner than that. The FDA recommends -35°C (-31°F) for 15 hours for safety, so -20°F would be somewhere in between 15 hours and 7 days. I doubt it's linear, but a couple days in the market freezer should be good enough.
As for fish-borne parasites they are only a major concern for freshwater fish because those parasites are those that can cause zoonotic infections, such as tapeworm. Otherwise with saltwater fish it is as Michael Chu stated.
And thanks to Chu. Sanitary. All you have to do is wash that index finger.
why what shouldn't be done?
I make it pretty much exactly as per the recipe and it's amazing every time. Thank you for making it simple!
Entomologically, ‘Gravlax’ means ‘buried salmon’ or ‘grave salmon’. It is part of the wider family of the Scandinavian fermented fishes which includes Swedish surlax (‘sour salmon’) and Norwegian rakfisk (‘soaked fish’) [Falk and Torp, 1906].
Harold McGee explains that these techniques were used in remote places where huge quantities of fish were caught in a short period of time and where (and when) salt was a rare good [McGee, 2004]. The solution was to bury the clean and lightly salted fish in a ‘grave’ dug into the earth, add some carbohydrates (bark, whey or malted barley) and some antioxidants (pine needles or berries) [Levin and Al., 1964]. This traditional method creates the conditions for the lacto-fermentation process that preserves the fish. Enzymes and bacteria from the fish flesh would break down protein and fat to produce a buttery texture with a cheesy, ammoniated smell.
An ‘acquired’ taste as one would say, though not so pleasant to most of us nowadays.
In the Nordic countries, there are few if any modern adaptations of this traditional buried salmon. And while there are fermented fish products, like the pungent, sulphuric and ammoniated Swedish surströmming [Skara and Al, 2015; Valeri, 2010], it isn’t buried but rather sealed in a tin can.
I believe, based on the historical evidence, these preservation methods directly influenced how food was preserved in Iceland beginning in the age of the Vikings that with little modification, can still be experienced first-hand today. Iceland was settled primarily by Norwegians who brought their knowledge of preserving fish by burial with them from the mainland.
For centuries, Icelanders had to smoke, pickle or dry their food in order to preserve it through the harsh winters. As a result, the traditional Icelandic food mainly consists of seafood and lamb that's gone through some preservation method.
Icelandic hákarl is fermented shark flesh. When their Viking forebears settled the island centuries ago, Greelandic shark, which is abundant in the icy waters of the North Atlantic, became the main staple of the island. The problem with the Greenland shark, other than the fact that it is fairly ugly, is that the meat is toxic to humans.
At the time, it was one of the only sources of nourishment for the island’s small population, so to conserve as much food as possible, the resourceful Vikings developed a preservation technique like no other to purify the poisonous shark meat.
Kćstur Hákarl or hákarl for short, is prepared through a time-honored process. The same process used in Viking times is still used today.
First, the shark is beheaded.
Then, to eliminate poisons, such as trimethylamine oxide and uric acid (a compound found in urine), a shallow hole is dug in the sand and the hákarl is placed in it with stones, sand, and gravel placed on top. The pressure of the stones causes liquids to seep out over a period of 6-12 weeks, a time frame that allows the shark to ferment properly.
After this, the fermented shark; which is 24 feet long on average; is taken out of the ground, cut into long pieces and hung up to dry for several months.
Many hákarl preparers claim they know the meat is ready just by the smell and once a characteristic dry, brown crust forms. When the time is right, the pieces are taken down, the crust is removed and the meat is cut into slices and served and enjoyed by many.
Today to get hákarl, you don't need to bury your own shark, it can be purchased as a prepared food in Icelandic grocery stores.
Falk and Torp: "Etymologisk ordbok over det norske og det danske sprog", 1906
Levin, MG and Potapov, LP. (1964), The people of siberia, The university of chicago press, USA, p 595
McGee, H. (2004), Food § Cooking: an encyclopedia of kitchen science, history and culture, Hodder and Stoughton, UK, p235
Skara and Al, (2015), Fermented and ripened fish products in the northern European countries, Journal of Ethnic Foods, 2 (1), 18-24
Valeri, R. (2010), Surstromming, Sweden's famous fermented herrings, Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery. Oxford, England.
I think I'll stick with salmon and the fridge.
The Sushi-Grade Myth
Make sushi from Costco Salmon
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sometimes real life practical 'been there, done that' stuff works, vs mystical cooking blogs . . . .