Homemade Gravlax with a Dill, Mustard and Lemon Dressing and Pickled Cucumbers

With Christmas fast approaching I thought a homemade gravlax recipe might come in rather useful. Smoked salmon always makes an appearance on Christmas day, but I think a homemade gravlax might make a welcome change. This Nordic dish is very simple to prepare as ultimately you are simply curing the salmon in salt, sugar, fresh dill and gin (or vodka/schnapps).

I tend to use the container that the salmon comes in to cure it, which makes it all very straight forward and fuss free. If you want to add a pink hue to the gravlax, simply add a small grated beetroot when you add the fresh dill to begin with. Sometimes I also like to add juniper berries, which I crush and add to the curing ingredients (no more than 2 tsp). I like to cure the salmon for 48 hours, by which time it has hardened and taken on the wonderful flavours it has been curing in.

The end result can be made into canapés, of presented as a starter in the middle of the table. I like to make a lemony, mustard and dill dressing and for some crunch pickled cucumbers works a treat.

Above gives you an idea on how it would look as a table centre piece for a starter and below as a canapé, or in my case, lunch with a mug of miso soup.

 

Homemade Gravlax

Serves 4-6 as canapés or starter

500g salmon fillet, skin on (bones removed) this one is perfect

100g fresh dill, finely chopped, leaves and stalks

2 tsp freshly ground white pepper

2 tbsp gin (or vodka or schnapps)

70g flakey sea salt

80g caster sugar

2 tsp freshly ground juniper berries, optional

1 small beetroot, peeled and grated, optional

  1. Using a hand blender (or by hand) other than the salmon, mix all the ingredients together to form a green sugary salty rub.
  2. Using the container that the salmon has come in, or a container that the salmon comfortably fits, add half the rub. Place the salmon on top – flesh side down – and then cover with the remaining rub. Make sure the salmon is completely covered. Cover with a lid or cling film and place back in the fridge for 48 hours, turning a couple of times throughout this period.
  3. Before serving, remove most of the rub by gently running it under some cold water. Pat dry with kitchen paper. You want some of the dill to remain on the salmon.

 

**********

 

Thirty minutes before serving you need to make the pickled cucumbers.

Pickled Cucumbers

1 whole cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced (a mandolin is great for this)

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp flakey sea salt

1 tbsp caster sugar

1/2 tsp coriander seeds, optional

 

  1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. Squeeze out the excess moisture (there will be quite a lot), and then place in a serving bowl or on the serving platter.

**********

 

Whilst the cucumber is pickling, clean out an old jam jar with a lid.

Mustard and Lemon Dressing

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 small lemon, juice only (I like it quite lemony, so perhaps add 1/2 juice of a lemon first and add more once it is all mixed together)

1 tbsp caster sugar

pinch of flakey sea salt

50g finely freshly chopped dill

2 tbsp sunflower/olive oil

 

  1. Place all the ingredients in your jar, secure the lid and mix thoroughly. Taste test and add more salt/sugar/lemon to taste.
  2. Place in a bowl ready to accompany the gravlax and pickled cucumber.
  3. Store in the fridge if made ahead of time. It will last for well over a week in the fridge.

 

 

 

 

 


Mustard, Coconut and Colombo Spices Salmon Curry

IMG_8841

A couple of weeks ago I was approached on behalf of Maison Maille the purveyor of fine mustards, oils and vinegars, who have been in existence since 1747 and who have recently opened their first London store at 2 Piccadilly Arcadeto be part of the ‘Maille Culinary Challenge‘. It’s open for food blogger and food reviewers and as such I thought I would throw myself into the challenge and create a dish using one of their products in a recipe that I have devised especially for them and which I hope my readers will try and make.

IMG_8852

The recipes entered will be judged on four main criteria: creativity, originality, taste and visual appeal. I hope the curry I have created ticks all the boxes and in addition is easy for others to attempt to make at home. There is nothing more frustrating when you see a fabulous recipe but to create it involves so many steps and ingredients that it actually puts you off.  I want my recipes to be user friendly and to actually encourage people to cook and try new flavours and tastes. There is a whole flavour universe out there waiting to be sampled so be courageous and follow the simple steps below to try this recipe.

IMG_8863

Using mustards, in fish curries in particular, is very common in Bengal where my husband originates from and so I thought that would be a good starting point when coming up with a recipe. I was immediately attracted to the mustard that had coconut and Colombo spices as I thought that they would work really well in a curry. Unlike some coconut curries, which are very creamy, this curry is far more delicate and light and perfect for spring time. I was also conscious not to suppress the wonderful flavours of the mustard, so chose a range of ingredients that I believe complement the mustard perfectly. I hope you agree. Do leave a comment below and let me know what you think. Let’s see what the judges say. Fingers crossed!

IMG_8877

Mustard, Coconut and Colombo Spices Salmon Curry

Serves 4

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp nigella seeds

2 green chillies, halved lengthways

10 fresh curry leaves (or dried if you cannot find fresh)

15g of fresh ginger, cut into wafer thin batons

2 spring onions, sliced at an angle

1 tsp ground turmeric

600g salmon fillets (5 pieces)

200ml boiling water

2 tsp Maille Noix de Coco et Spices Colombo

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp caster sugar

1. Gently heat a wide deep pan or karahi with 3 tbsp of vegetable oil. When it is hot add the nigella seeds and move them around the pan and then immediately add the fresh chilli, curry leaves and turmeric. Stir together and then add the ginger and spring onions. Toss in the pan for a minute.

2. Add the salmon fillets – skin side down – and leave them to gently bronze for a further minute. Do not keep touching them as you do not want them to break up.

3. Mix the Maille Noix de Coco et Spices Colombo with 200ml of boiling water and stir thoroughly. Add to the pan so that the salmon fillets are virtually covered.

4. Add the salt and caster sugar and stir gently into the sauce. Spoon some of the liquid onto the salmon and then place a lid on the pan and leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Continue to spoon the liquid onto the salmon fillets a couple of times during the ten minutes. (Depending on the thickness of your salmon the fillets should be cooked by ten minutes. If, when gently cutting into the fillet, it looks a little pink leave for a further couple more minutes with the lid on the pan).

Serve with basmati rice.

******************************

If you are not going to be in London town anytime soon you can order from Maille online HERE if you are based in the UK or France. A few products are on the US site which you can find HERE with more to be added next year.

Thank you to Maille for kindly providing me with the mustard for this post and also the ‘sweet apricot and curry mustard’, which I hope to use in a new recipe soon. 


Bengali Mustard Fish Curry

This post has been a loooooong time coming. Last week was totally full on with both my daughters now in school. There was a catch however, that being that Little Z was to be weaned on gradually with half days over the course of the week and a half, which mean’t that much of my existence was spent ferrying children in a car back and forth to school – six times per day for me to be precise, therefore allowing very little time to actually get on with anything productive.

At the weekend I threw myself into organsing an a friend’s baby shower so was baking and making in preparation for the event. The spread included: a Victoria sponge cake, flapjacks, egg mayo, smoked salmon with horseradish, cream cheese and cucumber finger sandwiches, rainbow coloured fruit sticks (got to keep it healthy!), a carrot cake and a few other sugary treats accompanied by big cups of tea and coffee, oh and not forgetting peach bellinis upon arrival.

IMG_7126

It’s now Tuesday and calm has reigned once more in my life as Little Z stays at school for her first full day. This now gives me the necessary breathing space to get this blog post out to you all.

•••••••••••••••

IMG_7166

Mustard fish curry – Maach (fish) Jhol (gravy/curry), is probably THE most popular fish dish in Bengal. The Bengali diet includes a lot of fish and mustard oil/seeds/paste is as ubiquitous in Bengali cuisine as pepper is in the west. Traditionally the mustard paste for the curry is made by grinding brown mustard seeds on a ‘sheel nora’ or grinding stone that can be found in traditional Bengali kitchens. I learn’t this recipe however from my husband, Mr B, and my mother in-law who have converted to the quicker version of mixing some smooth Dijon mustard with some wholegrain mustard, which works superbly. Cheating? Well not really, just speeding up the process, which is always a bonus in our otherwise hectic lives.

This time I used sea bream, mainly because it is what I had in my freezer, but mackerel, tilapia, salmon or trout work equally well. Served with a bowl of rice it is perfect for a speedy week(end) night supper.

IMG_7226

Some recipes require that you rub turmeric and salt into the fish first and then deep frying them for a 2/3 minutes and then in a separate pan adding the mustard oil, nigella seeds and mustard paste followed by the fried fish. I have always tended to omit the first part, keeping the dish healthier, but by all means try both versions and see which you prefer. Similarly I often cook the dish with the fish whole, but head removed. However, you can also chop the fish into smaller pieces but do not fillet it as it will not work so well.

Bengali Mustard Fish Curry 

Serves 3 (if serving for 4 add one more fish and an extra chilli or two!)

3 sea bream/mackerel/tilapia/salmon/trout, head removed but kept whole

3 tbsp mustard oil

1 tsp nigella seeds

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

3 green chillies, halved (more if you prefer it hot hot)

1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard

3 tbsp wholegrain mustard

pinch of salt

8 tbsp water

1. In a pan/wok/kadai heat up the mustard oil. When it is hot carefully add the nigella seeds, chilli powder and turmeric. Stir for a few seconds before adding both mustards. Stir well.

2. Add the chilli and then place in the fish using a spoon to cover the fish in the mustard juices. Add a pinch of salt and some water and place a lid on the pan so that the fish can steam. Keep the heat low so as not the burn the bottom of the pan. If it is drying out add a little more water or oil if need be. Spoon the juices over the fish from time to time.

3. The fish will be cooked within 10 minutes. Leave to rest. Scatter with chopped coriander before serving. To reheat, simply add a sprinkling of water and warm the pan.

Serve with rice.

IMG_7224