I have made gravlax fairly regularly ever since moving back to the USA from Sweden about 15 years ago. I make loads of it every News Years for our annual open-house New Years Day brunch.
A couple comments on the classic recipe: use kosher rock salt or coarse sea salt; pepper to taste, but not black pepper, traditionally it would be white pepper; and also traditionally you add a couple teaspoons of aquavit or brandy; if you use dill, it must be fresh; coriander works well too.
I use two glass rectangular baking dishes. Place one filet skin side down in a dish, a layer of sugar-salt-spice mixture, and then the other filet skin side up, smearing any residual mixture on top. Cover with plastic wrap to seal the dish. Place the other dish on top, right-side-up, and fill with heavy things like cans and jars of food. In the refrigerator for 2-3 days, flipping the pair of filets and marinating in between with extracted juices once or twice a day.
Now for the non traditional part: instead of aquavit, you can substitute other bitters, and I know of some that have used Swedish Besk, which contains wormwood. If you consider that aquavit is traditionally made from caraway, cumin, anise, and fennel, what does that suggest? Why not use ABSINTHE! So, that is MY special gravlax recipe, which I encourage you to try. You should put the ABSINTHE in straight, but obviously you should use much less than for aquavit. Typically, for a large double-sided fillet, I will use 1/4 cup of salt, 1/3 cup of sugar, a few grinds of white pepper, and 1 oz of ABSINTHE. Bon Appetit!
A friend of mine recently turned me on to making my own gravlax at home, and suffice to say, I was amazed. It's easy and the end results are better by far than any lox you're likely to buy in the store. To that end, here is the recipe he sent me:
1 lb Salmon fillet.
4 oz. salt (the coarser the better)
4 oz. sugar
lots of pepper
That's the basic cure. Now you can experiment. The classic gravlax taste is straight up dill, but I'm neither wild about dill nor classicism, so to this, I added:
2 tbs jamaican curry powder
4 tbs allspice, coarsely ground
Thoroughly mix the salt and spices together, then apply to the fish. Give it a good rub into the fish...there'll be more than enough salt and whatnot to cover the fish. Then wrap the whole thing in enough plastic wrap to cover the whole thing six times over. When it's wrapped, put it into a dish to catch the fluids, press it down with a cast iron skillet or similar weight, and let it sit for at least three days. I gave it five and it was perfect.
Seriously, give this a try. The end results are delicious, and there's something kind of miraculous about watching a salmon fillet turn to lox.
Now you: I'm sure some of you cure meat. I want to know how.
Edited by Blue Star, 12 November 2011 - 11:16 AM.