Wednesday, February 10, 2010


While out on a run the other day, I noticed my local fish market had Fresh King Salmon noted on their placard out near the sidewalk. Immediately, my mind wondered to thoughts of how, what, when can I incorporate salmon into my next few days of meals..? This challenge is doubly complicated by the fact that my wife has, after having lots of Pacific Northwest salmon in the few years we've lived in the area, become a bit picky and aversive to "another salmon dish...".

So, my challenge - to do something different with salmon; different than grilled, cedar-planked, baked, broiled, poached, etc.

My idea - Gravlax, the traditional Scandinavian preparation of fish (usually salmon), which utilizes the process of osmosis to cure the fish meat via packing it into a blend of salt, sugar and blend of spices.

My recipe is fairly basic:

¾ lb salmon fillet, tail end (all bones removed)
¼ cup kosher salt
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp fennel seed
2 tsp black peppercorn
Handful of fresh dill sprigs (~20 stems)
  • Coarsely grind the fennel seed and black pepper together in a spice grinder, blade-style coffee mill, mortar and pestle, or other.
  • Mix spices, salt, and sugar together.
  • Lay out a large piece of plastic kitchen wrap on a work surface, and distribute a bout 1/3 of the salt/spice mixture onto an area in the middle of the plastic, about the size of the fish fillet.
  • Place the salmon fillet, skin side down onto the distributed mixture, and then pack the remaining salt/spice mixture on top and on the sides of the salmon.
  • Tear the smaller sprigs of dill off the larger stems and roughly chop or tear those pieces into smaller pieces. Distribute on top of the salt/spice mixture.
  • Douse the top of the dill with a bit (about 1 oz) of the Aquavit.
  • Pull the side of the plastic wrap together, overlapping tightly to contain the piece of fish.
  • Double wrap the fish again with more plastic wrap.
  • Place the fish in a shallow dish, and refrigerate for 2 – 3 days, turning at least once a day to redistribute the brine juices.
  • When fish has firmed up slightly, unwrap and rinse.
  • Slice across the muscle, on a bias.
  • Serve with capers and sliced onion or shallot, or on a bagel with cream cheese, etc. and enjoy!


maggie said...

Oh wow...this is really intriguing! So the salmon is just brined, not cooked? What is the texture like when it is prepared this way?

GingerSnap said...

It is not cooked, only cured in the brine. The texture is similar to cold smoked salmon lox that you would purchase commercially. It will also depend on the type of salmon you use (species, oil content, etc.).

SeattleDee said...

Gravlax IS a delicious appetizer, and also works well in Eggs Benedict, filling crepes or omelets, topping pasta with a delicate sauce, and on and on. Yum!