I generally detest salmon. A few years ago, I was eating a salmon sushi roll, turned to Keith and said, "Yeah, I'm 40 now. I really hate salmon, and I'm not going to eat it anymore." Of course, I had two exceptions - smoked salmon and lox.
I've made gravlax, the Nordic equivalent to that tasty deli bagel topper, at home before, and have always had great results. Unlike some fish-preservation techniques, gravlax is not smoked, but preserved in salt, sugar, and dill. Its clean herbal profile is a great complement on that "everything" bagel or a rye cracker. Its also great on top of my rye bread!
If you have never had this stuff, you really need to give it a try.
First, I make the salt-sugar cure. You can add ingredients beyond dill. I normally like to add dill, caraway seed, and juniper. This time I added grapefruit zest, black peppercorns, and coriander to my typical mix. This was so good, I'm never going back!
It does take a few days in the refrigerator to cure (its fine to let it go another day, but it will be more salty). Also, if you don't have one of those food-saver contraptions that sucks all the air out of your plastic bag, you can wrap in plastic wrap.
I hope you enjoy making this as much as I do!
(this recipe makes enough salt-mixture for about 20" piece of salmon)
For the Cure:
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 bunch fresh dill, finely chopped
Zest from 1 grapefruit
1/2 TBP black peppercorns
1 TBP crushed juniper berries
1/2 TBP caraway seeds
1 TBP coriander seeds
For the fish:
1 side of skin-on wild caught salmon, fresh
1. Combine all ingredients for the salt-sugar cure in a large bowl. You can crush some of the spices with a mortar and pestle or food processor before adding. Stir to combine.
2. Lay out the parchment paper on a rimmed cookie sheet, or other large dish that will accommodate the fish. Spread out 1/2 of the salt mixture in roughly the shape of the fish on the parchment.
3. Remove fish from packaging and pat dry. Do no rinse.
4. Lay the fish down on the salt mixture and cover the other side with the remaining mixture. Do not have any salmon exposed - it should all be covered.
5. Fold the parchment around the salt-covered salmon tightly, and tightly wrap in plastic or slide into a food-saver bag and process to remove the air.
6. Place another cookie sheet on top of the wrapped salmon, and place in the refrigerator with something heavy on top - a few bricks, a gallon of milk, a cast-iron pan, etc.
7. Wait at least 3 days.
8. Remove the plastic and parchment from the fish. (Do this over the sink - there will be liquid.) Brush all salt/herbs/spices off of the fish, but do not rinse.
9. Slice finely, across the grain. I normally slice the whole fish at this point and save the unused slices in a separate container since it generally gets eaten quickly. But you can slice as needed over the next week, or freeze slices for a few months.
10. Serve on top of toasted bagels or crackers with cream cheese. You can also try topping with capers and red onion slices.