When Tommy and Marco from SeaSource kindly presented me with two full Salmon fillets to make Gravlax, I decided that it was time to experiment a bit. The traditional way of curing the fish with fresh dill tastes awesome but I wanted a bit more. In particular I wanted to use an Asian herb mix for stronger, punchy flavors, and I had read somewhere about using beetroot to produce vibrant colors. So, I did both.
The curing mix:
For each kilogram of fish:
- 4 tablespoons Castor sugar
- 4 tablespoons Salt, fine table salt
- 2 teaspoons White pepper, very finely ground
- Cling film pastic wrap
- 2 large sealable plastic bags
For the traditional dill mix, use a whole bunch of fresh dill. Keep it whole and lay it between the two layers of fish before wrapping the two sides together.
For the beetroot mix, use about four medium size beetroots. Peel them and then coarsely grate them. Pack between the two sides of fish before wrapping the bundle. Beware this one gets messy!
For the Asian mix, I have used one stick lemon grass, three Makut lime leaves, 6 cm fresh ginger (peeled), handful of fresh coriander leaves, stems and roots, 2 red chilies, and the peel of one lime. Pound these together to make a thick paste. Spread on the one side of fish before laying the second on top and wrapping with cling film.
To make the gravlax:
1.Mix the salt, sugar and pepper. Make sure the fish is scaled, washed and dried. Remove all the pin bones if it has not been done already. Leave the skin on.
2.Put a layer of cling film plastic in the bottom of a glass dish. The dish should be big enough to fit the fish length-wise. If you have a whole fillet you might have to cut it in half if you do not have a big enough dish.
3.Lay one piece of fish on the plastic skin side down. Cover with half the sugar, pepper and salt mixture and make sure the entire fish surface is well covered. Repeat with the second piece of fish using the remaining half of the mixture.
4.Put the flavoring agent (dill, beetroot etc.) on the bottom piece of fish and place the second piece on top. Wrap tightly with cling film plastic to ensure that the two pieces of fish is squeezed together. Put the wrapped salmon into the two sealable bags to ensure no fluid will escape. Put the sealed fish into the glass dish. Put another similar size flat object on top (a cutting board or another similar sized dish) and weigh down with a heavy object (such as a stone mortar). This will help squeeze moisture from the fish.
5.Put in the refrigerator for between 48 and 72 hours. Turn the fish a few times, say every 12 hours or so. Do not cure for more than 72 hours.
6.When done, unwrap the fish and remove the flavoring agent. Discard. If you like, give the fish a quick rinse under cold water to remove pepper and other residues. Pat dry.
7.To serve, cut the fish across the grain into very thin slices and serve with dark rye toast, scrambled eggs, sweet mustard or horseradish cream. Boiled potatoes or potato salad with dill are also good. Serve as a starter or as a nice, light summer lunch.