Marinated Gravadlax, Pickled Cucumber and a Honey Mustard Dressing

 

Growing up smoked salmon, or gravadlax, used to be a real treat, something that you would have very occasionally – at Christmas perhaps on Christmas morning or over Easter.  Somehow though over the years its become  rather ubiquitous and in some cases rather bland. Go to any sandwich store or deli and you’ll find it sitting there next to the cheese and pickle sarnies. The glamour and decadence seems to have gone.

I can help you change all that with a few simple steps. Marinated gravadlax is not only super easy (I know I tend to say that rather a lot but I sincerely mean it!) but it also tastes ridiculously good. You’ll also get tons of brownie points if you bring it out when guests are over.

I loosely followed Simon Hopkinson’s recipe – you can see it here and the video here. Rather confusingly it says that it only takes overnight to prepare and then in the body of the method it says 48 hours. Confusing. I researched other recipes and all the others were for 24 hours so I followed suit. As I did not finish it all in one sitting I returned the remaining portion of salmon back into the fridge with the marinade to see if the taste changed with another night in the fridge. I did not find any difference so I think I will continue with 24 hours.

So here is my step-by-step method.

Home Cured Gravadlax 

500g of fresh salmon fillet, skin on, bones removed (I bought this one)

85g caster sugar

70g sea salt

2 tbsp gin

2 tsp of fresh ground white pepper (next time I will try it with black or pink to see how it turns out)

80g fresh dill

  1. First make up the paste. Mix the sugar, salt, gin, pepper and dill in a blender or pestle and mortar.
  2. Take the salmon out of it’s packaging – do not throw this away as it is perfect size to marinate the gravadlax in over night.
  3. Distribute the  paste evenly on the bottom of the packaging tray and then once you have laid the salmon in – flesh side down – place the rest of the paste on top. Press down firmly.
  4. Cover with cling film and leave for 24 hours – turning a couple of times if you can.

Pickled Cucumber

1 whole cucumber, thinly sliced on a mandolin (I have this one)

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

2 caster sugar

1 sea salt

a little freshly ground white pepper (again pink or black could be good here)

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and leave to macerate in the fridge for an hour.
  2. A fair amount of liquid will have formed so discard this and place the cucumber back in the fridge until ready to use.

Honey Mustard Dill Dressing

2 tbsp of yellow Dijon mustard

1 tsp caster sugar

1 tbsp of runny honey

squeeze of lemon juice, to taste

20g fresh dill, finely chopped

salt, to taste

pepper, taste

extra virgin olive oil

  1. Mix all the ingredients together, aside for the extra virgin olive oil. Gradually pour this into the dressing stirring as you do so. It will thicken, much like hollandaise.  Taste and add more salt/honey/lemon juice as your taste buds require.

 

I served all of the above on a bilini – mustard dressing then a little cucumber and then a thin slice of gravadlax. Equally you could present the gravadlax as a starter and slice it into strips at the table (or before) and keep the cucumber as a salad and the dressing for guests to serve themselves. A slice of rye on the side would be perfect.

I’m planning to do beetroot next and then start experimenting with flavours – juniper, orange zest, mint.

It will change the way you look at gravadlax going forward.

 

 

 


Chermoula – North African Marinade

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Stuck for marinade or rub ideas? Or perhaps you simply want a tasty relish to go with some grilled or BBQ meat or fish. Chermoula is the answer, seriously it is sooooooo good you are going to be doing a happy dance once you’ve prepared and tasted it. Trust me.

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This tasty Moroccan herb spiced marinade can be prepared within minutes and adds so much flavour and exotic notes to a dish that I can guarantee you’ll be wanting to prepare it time and time again.

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Chermoula is used in cooking throughout North Africa, particularly in Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Algeria. It includes fresh parsley and coriander alongside spices such as cumin seeds, sweet paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt, saffron. These are then mixed with garlic, lemon juice, fresh red chilli and extra virgin olive oil. It really is that simple. It’s also one of those marinades that you can marinade meat or fish an hour before you cook, or serve it in a bowl for people to serve themselves. Versatile and flexible, what’s not to love?

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You can make it super smooth, but personally I like to have it so that you can still see bits of garlic, parsley, coriander and chilli.

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North African Chermoula

Serves 4-6 (double up if you are catering for larger numbers)

1 tsp cumin seeds

3 garlic gloves, roughly chopped

1 tsp sweet paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

pinch of saffron (optional)

12g fresh coriander, finely chopped

12g fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

salt to taste

juice from 1/2  lemon

5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  1. Dry roast the cumin seeds for around 20-30 seconds to release their smell and then place them in a hand blender *.
  2. To the same hand blender add the rest of the ingredients and 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Blitz briefly with the hand blender then add the rest of the olive oil. Blitz again briefly, unless you want it super smooth.
  3. Check the balance of salt and sour and add more salt or lemon if needed.
  4. Either place in a serving bowl, cover and leave in the fridge until ready to eat or add to your meat or fish for up to an hour before cooking.

I ate my chermoula with lamb chops and a salad on the side. Perfect summer out door dining.

*or mortar and pestle

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