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
- First make up the paste. Mix the sugar, salt, gin, pepper and dill in a blender or pestle and mortar.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cover with cling film and leave for 24 hours – turning a couple of times if you can.
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)
- Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and leave to macerate in the fridge for an hour.
- 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
extra virgin olive oil
- 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.