p Picks and Pecks: recipe: gravlax

Monday, February 11, 2013

recipe: gravlax


Chinese New Year was just around the corner, when I decided to try this little experiment with salmon. What does gravlax have to do with Chinese New Year you might ask? Well at this time of the year, restaurants tend to sell yee sang at exorbitant prices for measly pieces of fish, so I thought - why not try to make some at home?


This really quick recipe cold-cures your salmon in a day, if you're using just a small piece. Best part is that it requires next-to-no work!

All you need is a piece of really fresh salmon from the market. Some recipes ask that you use sushi-grade salmon from your grocery store, but I got mine from the wet market. I got the fishmonger to fillet the tail into two halves, to make working with easier.

There are so few ingredients that I can show them all in one picture! All I needed were equal amounts of sugar (came sugar is shown here) and salt (I used rock salt here, as I was afraid the fish might get too salty) and some dill.

I put the first half of the salmon on a piece of aluminum foil, skin-side down. Running my fingers along the flesh, I made sure there were no bones - any that I could feel were extracted with a pair of tweezers. I then mixed the salt and sugar and put half the mixture on the first piece of salmon. 

After rubbing the mixture gently into the flesh, I covered the salmon with the dill leaves, which I scrunched between my fingers to release some of the oils.

I repeated the same process with the other half of the fish, and placed both fillets on top of each other. Then I wrapped the foil tightly around the fish, pinching and sealing the ends.

I wrapped that package in cling film before putting it in the fridge. All it needed was a flip after 12 hours or so. 

Once the 24 hours are over, remove the package and discard any water that might have collected at the bottom of the pan. I rinsed the fillets quickly under running water to remove any salt or sugar granules that might have adhered to the surface.

The salmon retained the oily texture you would get from smoked salmon, since some of the liquid had been extracted by the salt-sugar mixture - this meant that it did not really resemble sashimi-type salmon. Quite importantly, it did not have a fishy odor despite curing for a day - and the fragrance of the dill served to accentuate the fresh note.

After patting the fillets dry, slice them thinly across the grain for use in sandwiches. You can also mix any small offcuts into leftover cream cheese for a quick and easy spread to use on bagels! 

Note: a week later, I tried making blinis to serve with the salmon.