Sea cure

Posted by Cameron on 08.14.07 9:58 PM

(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reservedSometimes, my palate is a live illustration of the law of unintended consequences. The combination of our sausage-making party and the constant talk about preserving food that comes with summer rattled around in my subconscious for weeks.

Then, on a Saturday morning as we did our shopping, we passed by Shogun Fish at the market. They were advertising the first local wild salmon of the season and a relay closed somewhere in my head. Suddenly, I wanted gravlax, and I wanted to make it myself.

On the hunt for a recipe, I turned to Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen. Tom is my first stop when I need wisdom about salmon, and his advice mostly lined up with other recipes and random commentary that I found around the InterWebs. I guess. The big differences were the addition of ground juniper berries (possibly traditional) and the absence of dill (definitely untraditional), and the presence of some other spices.

Fennel? Cayenne? Okay, whatever.

In theory, I knew that the process wasn’t difficult: just a simple salt/sugar cure. But I had no idea how dead-freakin’-easy it would be. Just pack the dry cure over and around the fish, weight the whole pile down with cans or what-have you, refrigerate, wait a few days and POW! Instant gravlax. Seriously, the hardest thing about this whole project was picking the juniper berry flecks out of the finished product. Obsess much? No! Yesssss. (Who said that?)

I love this stuff. I eat it for breakfast — with soft scrambled eggs, yum — for lunch, for a snack, whenever. For my next batch I’m going to try vacuum-sealing and freezing some to see how it holds up.

(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved

1-1/4 pound salmon fillet, preferably skin on, pin bones removed

2/3 cup kosher salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground juniper berries
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Combine the cure ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle the bottom of a non-reactive baking pan with about 1/2 inch of the cure and place the fish in the pan, skin side down. Blanket the fish with the remaining cure, creating a layer about 1-1/2 inches thick.

Cover the salmon with a piece of wax paper and top with another smaller pan, then weight the top pan down with a few cans. Store in the refrigerator for two to three days until the salmon is quite firm to the touch; the exact amount of time will depend on how thick your piece of salmon is. Remove the wax paper and the cans, and then use a rubber spatula to scape the cure from the salmon. Remove the salmon from the pan and briefly rinse it, then pat it dry with paper towels. To serve, slice the gravlax very thinly on the bias.

Cook’s note: I was not shy at all about rinsing the gravlax under cold running water until the cure was gone, daddy gone.

breakfast, meat, preserving & infusing, recipes



Comment by Paul

Wow, it’s been a while since I made gravlax — now I’m hungry.

Did you drain off the liquid as it cured? Last time I made it, I drained it every 12 hours or so (really only the first day, when the most moisture came out), and flipped the fish over so I got a uniform press (oh, and I guess I did it differently–I used two fillets of equal size, placed the cure on the flesh then sandwiched it between the two pieces).

I also gave it a good sprinkle of aquavit when I started the cure, just because I’m a booze guy and it seemed celebratory and not out of place.

Mmm, fishy goodness…..

Posted on 08.14.07 at 10:49PM

Comment by Christiane

What a great idea. This looks positively awesome!

Posted on 08.16.07 at 7:21AM

Comment by Cameron

Paul: Good old Tom D. didn’t say anything about draining off the effluent, so I just left it in the pan. I was surprised by how much liquid came off the one filet — if I had done two, stacked, the bottom piece might have ended up submerged. I’ve read a couple of recipes that recommend wrapping the fish and cure in plastic wrap, which would hold the liquid in and (seems to me) be more like a brine.

Christiane: Thank you! It tasted pretty darn good too.

Posted on 08.16.07 at 8:15AM

Comment by claudia

i love gravlox. l o v e gravlax. and it’s been awhile. when i go home to nyc my mom often makes a zabar’s run and gets some for me. it comed with this incredible green sweet sauce. like an herby mustardy sweet thing. i’ve forgotten now what it is – but i love it. i may make this one but my guy doesn’t eat fish. isn’t that a crime? shellfish yes, luckily… but no fish

Posted on 08.20.07 at 7:33AM

Comment by Carl

This is my go-to recipe for gravlax. I like the juniper because you can’t always find fresh dill when you need it. I vacuum seal and freeze what I’m not going to use in a week. Works great.

Posted on 04.08.12 at 11:45AM

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.