here, but I would recommend reducing the curing time to 24 hours or less, and using less salt. That's because I had a little chat to the friendly chef at Mako Fresh Fish in North Hobart. This 20-year veteran of gravlax was only too happy to discuss some of the finer points of gravlax curing. It seems that Scandinavian palates are fond of salt whereas Australian palates enjoy a fresher, raw-er taste (think of the influence that Japanese food has on us with its beautiful sashimi, for instance). For a less salty cure, reduce the curing time, reduce the amount of salt and be sure to use a salt that is not too strong - this one was recommended.
So basically you mix salt, brown sugar, pepper and lots of dill, and rub it all over your salmon fillets (see the picture above). Then you pour a good whack of vodka over the whole thing and squish it down with a large heavy rock.
OKAY. You do not need to use an actual rock (although this one from my garden was absolutely perfect and far better than anything else I had - before I found it I was trying to manufacture a suitable weight from jam jars and butter pats).
You could use anything flat and heavy as long as it presses down on the salmon, not on the edge of the dish.
The skin of the fillet also becomes really firm and hard, I think from the compression that comes from being weighted down.
You need a VERY sharp knife. I found it difficult to slice evenly, a bit like trying to slice prosciutto by hand - you want thin slices and it's difficult to maintain the smooth even pressure that you need. Practice helps. I got better.
You'd think I altered the colour saturation in this photo, but no. Gravlax really is a stunning, translucent coral pink. It was so beautiful I nearly cried.
Do yourself a favour and use Nigel Slater's recipe which is awesome, easy and has a two-hour turnaround.
butter. Yes I do. I make my own butter. Before you scoff at my ridiculously purist attitude, try it sometime. You too may get addicted.
Normally when I cook things, I get to the end of the cooking process and I don't really want to eat anything straight away - it's like the cooking substitutes for eating and takes my appetite away. HOWEVER, I couldn't wait to slice the gravlax and lay it on the rye and sink my little teeth into it.
If you've read this far you must really like gravlax. I admit that smoked and cured salmon is totally awesome and one of the world's best foods, and if you want to see some other things I've done with it, you can have a gawk here. And, being Dr Cupcake, I've even done imitation sushi in cupcake form... which you can see here.
So long for now, all you gravlax-loving Vikings out there. I'm off to sample some vodka. I'd love to say it's top shelf stuff, but the regular quantities required would most likely bankrupt me :)
Love, Dr Cupcake