Making gravlax.

A few weeks ago, as Winter began to loosen its grip on Northeast Ohio, I woke up early one Saturday determined to extract every bit of daylight from the day. I had been ready for spring for ages. The frigid temperatures had seeped into my bones and my mood, leaving everything gray and cold.

I was determined to make something spring-y and somehow settled on gravlax, which is basically a Scandinavian version of salt-cured salmon. Translated from Swedish, gravlax means “grave salmon,” grav = grave and lax = salmon. Prior to refrigeration, the fish was buried deep in the sand to keep it cold and to keep it under pressure. Now you just stick it in the fridge with a heavy plate on top. Yay modernity!

For my first attempt at gravlax, this didn’t turn out too shabby. It got eaten by multiple people and we’re all still living. Win-win!

I adapted my recipe (more like formula, really) from Mark Bittman. Click the link and read his piece (albeit an old one) from The New York Times. It really calmed my nerves before I attempted gravlax.

Gravlax also reaffirmed my desire to travel to Sweden. My heritage–and the food, let’s get real, I know my priorities–is the main attraction but I would not be opposed to meeting an Alexander Skarsgård doppleganger.

Gravlax, adapted from Mark Bittman (link above), makes 8 oz. cured fish

Ingredients

2, 4 oz salmon filets

3/4 kosher salt

3/4 white granulated sugar

1 tsp. ground black pepper

small bunch of dill

Method

1. Pat the salmon filets dry and place in a shallow dish. Combine the salt, sugar and pepper in a bowl. Cover one filet in the salt/sugar mixture. Place dill on top and sandwich with the other filet.

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2. Transfer the sandwiched filets to a quart-sized, zip-up plastic bag. If any sugar/salt mixture that falls out, spoon it into the bag after the fish is inside. Seal the bag tightly, pressing out as much air as you can. Massage the bag to ensure every bit of fish is covered by the salt/sugar mixture.

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3. Place on a plate in the refrigerator. Weigh the fish down with another plate on top. Refrigerate for 48-72 hours, turning the bag every 8-12 hours.

4. Remove from bag, wipe off sugar/salt mixture and slice thinly. Serve as you like. I served the gravlax on a piece of toasted rye bread with plain Greek yogurt, capers, sliced cucumber and fresh dill.

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