I grew up eating lox on bagels, heavy, salty, bright pink slices of cured salmon layered on top of a fresh chewy bagel. As an adult I prefer the Scandanavian version and enjoy house curing my own gravlax. Gravlax is soft and subtle in flavor, a mere whisper to the throaty holler of the lox of my childhood. It all starts with the perfect piece of fish..........
When selecting your piece of fish it is easy to make a decision based on price and appearance but seriously steer yourself toward sustainable wild caught salmon, it may not be as pink or as plump as the farm raised but it is the better choice. Farm raised salmon may be cheaper and look better but nutritionally it is not as good for you; less omega3's and fishies are fed all sorts of antibiotics and yucky food to plump them up as well as pigments to enhance their salmon color. Environmentally, farmed salmon and it's industry create a host of issues that ought to be considered as well. I will leave my thoughts at that, I could post fact after fact and link after link but you can take care of that info digging on your own. Conscientious food retailers such as WholeFoods offer the best and allow you to make a responsible decision.
The recipe below is fairly simple - just salt, pepper, sugar and dill but you can play with this recipe. I've experimented with the type of salt I used, most recently playing with smoked salts. Other herbs and spices, even juniper berries can be added for different flavor variations - have a blast - experiment!
It's easy, It's Gravlax!
(this is the basic recipe, I mess with it all the time)
1 lb. filet cut salmon
(make sure pin bones are removed, you can remove them yourself with needle nosed pliers)
3 TBS Kosher Salt
3 TBS Sugar
2-3 tsp fresh ground black pepper
(mix these 3 ingredients together in a small bowl)
1 bunch of dill
Place salmon skin side down on a piece of saran wrap, cover all exposed flesh with your dry mix. Cover the entire piece of salmon with a good layer of dill. Wrap the salmon tightly in saran wrap, 2 or 3 layers is best, it will leak as it cures. Place salmon on a tray with a lip or in a pan, I use my 8x8 square baking dish. You will need something to use as a weight, I have a small cast iron pan that I use, and this item goes directly on top of the wrapped fish. Refrigerate gravlax for 36 to 48 hours, turning the salmon over a few times during the process - this helps redistribute the liquid.
Unwrap your gravlax, toss the dill in the trash and give the fish a good rinse to remove all remaining salt, sugar and pepper. Pat it dry with a towel and you are good to go. You'll need a good sharp knife and don't forget to slice it thinly on an angle starting with the thinnest part of the piece. Serve it with many a condiment on a cracker or crispbread. I enjoy a Swedish mustard dill sauce but you can use chopped egg, chopped onion, capers, sour cream...the list continues. I can guarantee that this will be an absolute favorite....bring it to a party and you will be the star!