I know you have all been waiting with bated breath for the conclusion of the Gravlax project. Yes, all three of you who read my blog – I do so appreciate it!
To continue…Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning I basted the salmon fillet with the juices that exuded from it, making sure all of the dill got moistened each time. These juices were nice and syrupy – a combination of the brandy, the melted brown sugar and salt, and some moisture from the fillet itself. Sunday at noon I pulled the finished product from the refrigerator. The salmon fillet had significantly firmed up, which was a very good sign. I scraped the dill off, using a butterknife in order to not cut into the fillet using anything sharp. No rinsing was necessary, although you will see recipes that do call for it. And then it was on to thinly slicing the fillet. And tasting of course!
It tasted fantastic! It was definitely not the lox I am used to being served. Where lox is typically just salt cured, gravlax has the added benefit of spices. The brown sugar gave this gravlax a deeper flavor, as opposed to just a sweetness. You could taste the brandy, the dill, and the salt. I loved the texture as well. Firmer than lox with a nice chew, but not chew-y. It all just melded so well. Once we did it up in our traditional brunch manner it got even better!
An onion bagel, cream cheese, capers, red onion and a squeeze of lemon to accompany fresh, homemade gravlax. What a way to feast for Sunday brunch! One tip – place your capers on top of the cream cheese and squish them down slightly. No more escaping capers! Want a more traditional way to serve? Place slices on a dark, firm pumpernickel bread, top with a mustard dill sauce and a sprig of fresh dill.
If lox, salmon, smoked salmon, or gravlax is something you enjoy I challenge you to try this. It is easier (and tastier!) than I ever would have thought.
Where has the time gone?! I cannot (okay, yes I can) believe how long it has been since I have put any words down here. The last 6 months have been a crazy whirlwind. We moved from Hawaii to Oregon, I put my business on hiatus, we dealt with some terrible winter weather (for Portland anyway…), and the last three weeks have been filled with unpacking boxes, trying to find a place for everything, and a lot of “where did I put (insert item here)?” Things are starting to come together and I have been missing my quiet, organized kitchen time. This year Food In Jars came up with the the Food In Jars Mastery Challenge, a challenge where those participating would “focus on a different pickling or preserving skill, with the intention that we end this calendar year with a greater level of expertise and comfort with a wide range of food preservation techniques than when we started.” As comfortable as I am with canning and experimenting in that department, I felt I could definitely use the push of a monthly challenge, both to inspire me to try new techniques and to challenge me in areas I am already familiar with. January’s challenge was marmalade – a challenge I could not participate in due to the move and having no kitchen. But one I would have thoroughly enjoyed because I have quite an extensive marmalade repertoire due to tips and tricks from Food in Jars and all of the amazing citrus available to me when I was in Hawaii! So, moving on to February and a challenge of Salt Preserving. I was determined to make something this month, but it had to meet some criteria:
It had to be something to ease me into the new working environment of a new house.
It had to be something simple and useable, not something I would have to search out an elaborate recipe to use it in.
It had to be small batch.
It had to be something to expand my skills.
That narrowed it down to citrus/herb salt, vegetable soup base, or Gravlax. I opted for Gravlax because it fit all of the above – something quick, I had very few ingredients to buy, we would consume it in a short time, and it was something I had never made.
My main go-to when I am approaching something new is America’s Test Kitchen. I love how they research and test everything and explain why they take the approach that they do. A few years ago I saw their DIY Cookbook on a friend’s coffee table and I knew I had to have it. And today I used it to craft my first ever Gravlax.
As you can see, five ingredients are all it takes. Drizzle the brandy all over the salmon fillet. Mix the salt and sugar together in a bowl and then pack it onto the top and sides of the salmon.
Top the fillet off with a thick layer of roughly chopped fresh dill. Loosely cover with plastic wrap, top with smaller baking dish and weights (canned goods work well), and place in the refrigerator.
Now I will baste it once daily with the exuded juices and swimming dill for the next three days, keep my fingers crossed, and look forward to enjoying this for brunch on Sunday! I will post an update once it is finished.
Cheers to happy kitchen time!
GRAVLAX – DIY Cookbook, America’s Test Kitchen
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt
1 (1 pound) skin on salmon fillet
3 T. brandy
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill (do not use dried)
Step 1: Combine sugar and salt in small bowl. Place salmon, skin side down, in 13×9 glass baking dish. Drizzle with brandy, making sure to cover entire surface. Rub salmon evenly with sugar mixture, pressing firmly on mixture to adhere. Cover with dill, pressing firmly to adhere.
Step 2: Cover salmon loosely with plastic wrap, top with square baking dish or pie plate, and weight with several large heavy cans. Refrigerate until salmon feels firm, about 3 days, basting salmon with liquid released into baking dish once a day.
Step 3: Scrape dill off salmon. Remove fillet from dish and pat dry with paper towels before slicing. Gravlax can be wrapped tightly in plastic and refrigerated for up to one week; it should be left whole and sliced just before serving.