Grav-what? Gravlax: Cured Salmon

Sorry for the delay in posting. I timed things badly since I didn’t realize that today’s breakfast- Gravlax- took 36 hours to cure.  My bad.

From what I’ve found, Scandinavian breakfasts are a far cry from the cereal, muffins and pancakes that we typically enjoy in the U.S.  Besides muesli, open faced sandwiches with a variety of cold meats, cheeses and fish are the norm. While I’d rather have something a little warmer and stick to my ribs as the days get colder and shorter, the idea of curing my own salmon was interesting, so off I went.

I am not a huge reality TV fan, but I LOVE Top Chef.  When seeking out a recipe, I came across Top Chef Masters’ winner Marcus Samuelsson’s cookbook Aquavit.  A little background about Mr. Samuelsson:  Born in Ethiopia, he was adopted and grew up in Sweden, and therefore his food and recipes range from the traditional to fusion cuisine. I thoroughly enjoyed looking through his book, so if you are impressed by Scandinavia, take a peek.

Surprisingly (to me), Gravlax is really easy to make. All it really takes is time.  I picked up some sushi-grade salmon at Whole Foods, some dill, sugar and salt.  That’s it!  After throwing it together, I let it stew in the fridge for a day and a half until I was ready to eat.

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  1. 1 cup sugar
  2. 1/2 cup salt
  3. 2 TB cracked pepper
  4. 2 1/2-3 pounds sushi-grade salmon, any bones removed
  5. 2-3 large bunches dill
For the sauce
  1. 3 TB brown sugar
  2. 3 TB Dijon mustard
  3. 2 TB white wine vinegar
  4. 1 bunch fresh dill
  1. Combine the sugar, salt and peppercorns in a small bowl and mix well. Place the salmon in a shallow dish and rub a handful of the salt mixture into both asides of the fish. Sprinkle the salmon with the remaining mixture and cover with the dill. Cover the dish and let stand for 6 hours in a cool spot.
  2. Transfer the salmon to the fridge and let cure for 36 hours.
  3. Make the sauce: Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth.
  4. To serve, unwrap the salmon and wipe off all the salt and sugar mixture with a paper towel. Cut on a bias and serve cold on rye or wheat bread.
The Hungary Buddha Eats the World
I think in my head I had confused cured salmon with smoked salmon. I expected a silky, sweet and salty meat akin to lox.  Much to my surprise, the result was closer to jerky, but not quite as tough. Per tradition, it served it on cold, thin-sliced sprouted wheat and served it with a mustard-dill sauce.  The taste was good, but nothing to necessarily write home about.  It might be a good spread to make for a summer brunch or something, but for this 45-degree October morning, I think I should have gone with the muesli.

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