Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Gravlax, Pinay style

This is very easy to make but it might not pass as authentic to the Northern Europeans who savor this...To me, it is palatable and a nice change from eating meat and poultry and rich saucy food.
It requires ample space in the refrigerator and 3 days of salt curing. This turned out to be my best attempt so far, totally due to the freshness of the salmon.
Use 2 fillets of salmon, about the same size. Carefully pick out any pin bones, with tweezers if necessary, "palpating" and feeling each piece. In a small bowl, mix 2 tbsp. kosher or fine sea salt, 1 &1/2 tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. freshly cracked white peppercorns, and a few juniper berries,cracked (optional). Sprinkle the mixture all over the fillets, on both sides and on the edges. (Sometimes I sprinkle lemon vodka or Courvoisier, about a scant tsp. each side for added oomph). Divide 2 bundles of fresh dill and cover all surfaces and in between fillets. Wrap tightly in foil or plastic wrap, ensuring a tight seal all over.

Set in a glass dish and put either an identical glass dish on top or a plate that fits on top of fish but not to edge of the dish (it needs to press down on the fish fillets), then put a mortar or something heavy (e.g. a large tin of tomatoes or beans) on top.
Let the salmon "cure" for three days. Turn over the wrapped fillets at least once a day. At the end of the second day, slice off a little piece to taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Slice paper thin slices across the grain, beginning from the wider end of the fillet.
Friend "Cathi" serves this with sliced boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, or "Wasa" crackers, or pumpernickel bread. One sister-in-law likes her gravlax with cream cheese and bagels. I like mine with buttered toast points, capers, cornichons and the Ikea dill mustard sauce.
Sprinkle lemon juice and enjoy! It's a devious way to introduce someone to "raw" salmon...