Homemade Gravlax (Cured Salmon)

Homemade Gravlax (Cured Salmon) from A Thought For Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Homemade Gravlax (Cured Salmon) from A Thought For Food - www.athoughtforfood.net

I have a deep love for smoked and cured salmon. Well, any fish, really. Salmon, though, is my #1 favorite. WhIle some people put tiny cuts of lox on their bagels, I want a mound on mine. Ideally there's a greater salmon to bagel ratio. If I haven't made myself clear, I can't get enough of the stuff. So, when I first learned of gravlax from my mother-in-law, I knew I needed it in my life. Gravlax is a Nordic recipe that involves curing salmon (or any other fatty fish) in salt, sugar, pepper, and dill.  Once these ingredients have been rubbed all over the fish and arranged so that the two fillets are placed with the flesh sides pressed against each other, the salmon is then wrapped in aluminum foil.  At this point, it is left in the fridge, set in a pan with a weight on top of it, for 48 hours. For a number of years, we made it fairly often. While it's not difficult to prepare, it does take some forethought. To have it on Sunday, I'd have to get everything ready on Friday. 

However,  we recently acquired two Himalayan salt blocks, so I thought I'd give it a try using those. Not only were the results delicious, but the preparation was cleaner and faster (it takes less time to cure... closer to 36 hours). Of course, I don't expect people to have salt blocks, so I've included two recipes below. Enjoy this as an appetizer at Christmas dinner or your New Year's Eve party or for a very special Sunday brunch. 

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Homemade Gravlax (Cured Salmon) from A Thought For Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Homemade Gravlax (Cured Salmon) from A Thought For Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Homemade Gravlax (Cured Salmon) from A Thought For Food - www.athoughtforfood.net

HOMEMADE GRAVLAX (Using Salt Block)
Yield: 4-6 servings
Tools: baking pan, aluminum foil, 2 Himalayan salt blocks

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs salmon fillet (skin on)
Large bunch of fresh dill
Lemon (optional)

Directions:
Line a large baking pan with aluminum foil. Place one of the salt blocks on the pan and cover the surface of the salt block with a bunch of dill.

Using a sharp pairing knife, score the skin of the salmon with 3-4 incisions. Lay the salmon fillet on top of the salt block, skin-side down. Cover the flesh of the salmon with more fresh dill and place the second salt block on top. Transfer to the refrigerator. Let cure for 36 hours. 

Before slicing, remove the dill.

Slice thinly and serve with bagels or pumpernickel bread.  It is tasty with either cream cheese or butter.  A nice mustard sauce would work nicely as well.  Or just a couple lemon wedges.



HOMEMADE GRAVLAX (Without Salt Block)
Yield: 4-6 servings
Tools: baking pan, aluminum foil

Ingredients:
2 - 1.5 lb salmon fillets (skin on)
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons white pepper
Large bunch of fresh dill
3 tablespoons gin

Directions:
Mix the salt, sugar, and white pepper in a bowl.  Lay out two sheets of aluminum foil that are 6 inches longer than one of the fish fillets on a roasting pan or another rimmed baking dish that is big enough to hold the fish.  Rub the fish with the salt/sugar mixture on both sides of each of the fillets.

Lay one fillet, skin-side down, into the baking dish.  Cover the flesh side with heaping handfuls of fresh dill.  Drizzle with the gin.  Place the remaining fillet, flesh side down, on top of the other piece of fish.  Fold the ends of the aluminum foil over the fillets so that it completely wraps the fish.  Wrap with another two sheets of foil, so it is tightly packaged up.  Place a weight (I use another heavy, but smaller, baking dish and then fill it with oranges and grapefruits) on top of the fish and let sit in the fridge, flipping every 12 hours, for 48 hours.

Before slicing, remove the dill.

Slice thinly and serve with bagels or pumpernickel bread.  It is tasty with either cream cheese or butter.  A nice mustard sauce would work nicely as well.  Or just a couple lemon wedges.