Gravlax can be the centerpiece of any appetizer buffet served during the holiday season, or really any time you want to serve something special. I have scaled down the size of this recipe to make it more accessible. Many recipes start with a 7 to 10 pound fish—I find that’s a little more than I generally need. I used a fillet of wild caught Coho salmon weighing a little over a pound. It is more expensive than farm-raised salmon, but is worth every penny. Serve gravlax thinly sliced on crispy, homemade rye crackers and top with a spoonful of honey mustard sauce into which you have stirred some fresh dill.Curing is a simple process that cooks fish by breaking down the proteins with salt instead of heat. The results are very impressive for the small amount of work involved. Pour glasses of Prosecco, or light pale ale that has notes of citrus acidity.
1 to 1½ lb salmon fillet
2 tsp black peppercorns, cracked
2 Tbsp coarse sea salt or kosher salt
¼ cup Turbano or brown sugar
½ cup chopped fresh dill
Use a pair of needle nose pliers or tweezers to remove the floating ribs from the fish. You will find these bones by running your fingers along the side of the fillet. Remove them as if they were splinters. Leave the skin on the fish; this will make it easier to handle and slice.
Place the salmon skin side down on a sheet of aluminum foil. Sprinkle the cracked peppercorns over the fish.
Add an even layer of salt over the flesh.
Add a layer of sugar.
Cover with the chopped dill.
Wrap the fish in the foil to form a package. Place on a shallow pan keeping the skin side down.
Put a board or flat pan on top, and add two pounds of weight on top (a can or 2 of food for example). I used a large can of beans. This will compress the flesh of the fish, and make it easier to slice.
Refrigerate for 3 days. Unwrap, and place the salmon on a cutting board. Use a long, thin knife to slice the fillet on a bias as thinly as possible. Turn the blade as it touches the skin so that you do not slice through the skin. The flesh of the salmon becomes almost translucent.
Mustard Sauce with Honey & Dill
¼ cup Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp white vinegar
½ cup neutral oil such as grape seed oil or canola
½ cup chopped fresh dill
Combine all ingredients except the dill and whisk together until smooth. Add the dill and stir to distribute evenly.
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup stone ground rye flour
¼ tsp salt
½ cup water
2 Tbsp neutral oil such as grape seed or canola
Caraway or poppy seeds
Sift the flours and salt into a mixing bowl.
Combine all ingredients into pliable dough, and knead for 5 minutes.
Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450° and lightly oil two baking sheets.
Cut dough into 4 equal pieces.
Measure your baking sheet, and then roll out dough on a lightly floured counter into very thin rectangles so that they fit on the sheets. The useable surface of my sheets are 11½ X 16½ so mine are about 11 X 7 inches. Trim the edges with a knife if you like. Place 2 rectangles of dough on each baking sheet.
Use a pizza cutter to cut them into a serving sized pieces. They don’t need to be perfect squares.
Brush each with water so the seeds will adhere.
Sprinkle with seeds. Prick all over with a fork if you don’t want air bubbles that puff up when baked. I like them a little puffy so I don’t usually prick them.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown.