Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Of Love and Gravlax

Inspired by his Saturday lunch at FIKA (see photos below) T asked why I don't make gravlax more often. His question shouldn't have surprised me, but it did. When I met T there were two foods he declared absolutely no way would he eat: chocolate and fish. The chocolate issue we took care of pretty easily after I explained to him that the unsweetened baking chocolate his older sister fed to him when he was a child was not actually a decent representation of Chocolate. Dozens of B.T. McElrath boxes later and innumerous dark chocolate candy eaten in secret (their tell-tale wrappers strewn about the car) and T is a cocoa-convert. The fish love, however, took a bit longer.

Once I convinced T that if fish smells like "fish" or tastes like "fish" it isn't going to be served at our table, he agreed to try it. Grilled trout cakes, salmon croquettes, pan-fried walleye were easy sales. T's first taste of sushi was slightly more difficult but when he wouldn't share his sashimi plate with me, I knew he was in. The first time I made gravlax for a dinner party I didn't even offer any to him. After our guests left I went to wrap any remaining salmon and there was none. "The gravlax was a hit," I said. And T confessed he'd eaten most of the platter himself.

So here's to T and his adoption of all things fish, be it smoked, raw, roasted, fried, or cured. We will be having gravlax a lot more often. Tonight I will serve it on rye and spelt flat bread with plenty of pickled mustard seeds, capers, red onion, dill, cucumbers, and sour cream.

Dill Aquavit and Horseradish Gravlax
1 pound sushi-grade salmon, skin on
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup salt
1 teaspoon Penzey's horseradish powder
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 - 2 sprigs fresh dill, stems attached
1/2 shot Dill Gamle Ode or similar dill flavored aquavit or vodka

Slice the salmon into two uniform halves.

Place one salmon fillet skin-side down on large sheet of plastic wrap. Combine dry ingredients and rub half into salmon on both sides. Layer dill over flesh and spritz with half of the aquavit. Do the same for the other fillet, then plank second fillet, skin-side up, over first fillet. Rub remaining cure over second fillet. Wrap plastic around fish, pressing together. Lay in glass dish at room temperature 4-6 hours. Refrigerate salmon additional 36 hours, flipping fish every 12 hours. The cure will liquefy during curing process.

Remove plastic and cure; rinse fish and pat dry with paper towels. Slice paper thin and serve with
mustard and dill sauce if desired.

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