Easy DIY for your next brunch: cured salmon.
Gravlax means grave salmon. Not grave as in serious, grave as in hole. Once, the Scandinavian fisherman buried fresh salmon in sand, letting salt and time cure it. Much like Sweden's soured herring, Norway's rotten fish and Iceland's putrefied shark, the technique is better than the marketing.
These days there's no need to dig a salmon grave. At the deli, you can swap $50 for a pound. If you're feeling thrifty or adventurous (but not so thrifty and so adventurous as to buy a seat on Iceland's WOW Airlines), simply bury your salmon in salt and sugar. In two days, unwrap gravlax.
Gravlax offers a salty bite and buttery texture that's ideal for slicing paper thin and heaping onto bagel, black bread or potato cake. The technique extends salmon's brief fridge life from a day to a week. It also extends the harried minutes of breakfast to the luxurious hours of brunch. Now that's the cure.
Prep: 25 minutes
Wait: 48 hours
Makes: 1 pound
2 tablespoons citrus or plain vodka, optional
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
3 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 pound center-cut salmon fillet, pin bones removed
1. Douse: Line a small glass baking dish with a long stretch of plastic wrap. Slice the salmon in half crosswise and set both halves, skin side down, on the plastic. Pour vodka (if using) onto salmon.
2. Pat: Toss together dill, salt, sugar, pepper and zest. Pat this spice mix all over the fish. Fold one chunk onto the other, flesh sides touching, skin sides out, like a salmon sandwich. Wrap this sandwich tightly in the plastic wrap. Cover dish.
3. Marinate: Chill 48 hours, turning the sandwich over every 12 hours or so.
4. Serve: Unwrap salmon. Brush off excess spice rub. Pat dry. Slice gravlax against the grain into paper-thin ribbons, leaving behind the skin. The gravlax is nice Hanukkah-style garnishing potato pancakes; Swedish-style on buttered black bread; or Sunday-style with bagels and cream cheese.