Thursday, October 14, 2010


Fall means salmon, and in my mind, salmon means Gravlax.

Gravlax is another one of those appetizers or hors d'oeuvres that require almost no effort, but will get you a lot of accolades. This is particularly convenient when you have a big party to prep for because you'll look like a super-star, but not be all stressed out. Or maybe you will be stressed out, but not because of your stellar hors d'oeuvres.

To make gravlax, you basically take a hunk of salmon, cover it with some spices, and throw it in the fridge for a few days. When it emerges, you have a silken, flavorful delicacy.
Gravlax is a lot like cold-smoked salmon, and it plays well with the same ingredients. 'Everything' bagels with some cream cheese would make a lovely brunch spread, but my favorite way to enjoy this fishy goodness is with some pumpernickel toasts, minced red onions, capers, and a mustard cream sauce.

If you make this, do not be tempted to skip the sauce--it takes only a few minutes to throw together, and, as my family says, it 'makes' the dish. This salmon makes an appearance at almost all of our cold-weather family occasions, and it's become a favorite. Perhaps it can become a favorite in your family, as well. If you make it, let me know what you think.

(Adapted from Saveur)
  • 1 tbsp. white peppercorns
  • 1/2 tbsp. fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp. caraway seeds
  • 1⁄3 cup kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1-lb. center-cut, skin-on salmon filet
  • 2 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. heavy cream
To serve:
  • 1 loaf thinly sliced pumpernickel bread, pieces cut into diamonds
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 4 tablespoons capers, rinsed
In a spice grinder or small food processor, pulse peppercorns, fennel seeds, and caraway seeds until coarsely ground; combine with salt and sugar. Stretch plastic wrap over a plate; sprinkle with half the salt mixture. Place salmon fillet on top, flesh side up. Cover with remaining salt mixture.
Fold plastic wrap ends around salmon; wrap tightly with 2 more layers of plastic wrap. Refrigerate the fish on a plate for 48–72 hours, turning the package every 12 hours and using your fingers to redistribute the herb-and-spice-infused brine that accumulates as the salt pulls moisture from the salmon. The gravlax should be firm to the touch at the thickest part when fully cured.

Unwrap salmon, discarding the spices. Rinse the filet under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.

For the sauce, whisk together dijon mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, and sugar in a medium bowl. While whisking, slowly drizzle in olive oil until smooth. Mix in the cream and taste for seasoning.

Place gravlax skin side down on a board. With a long, narrow-bladed knife (use a granton slicer if you have one; the divots along the blade make for smoother, more uniform slices), slice gravlax against grain, on the diagonal, into thin pieces. Serve with mustard sauce, minced red onion, capers, and pumpernickel toasts. Refrigerate any remaining gravlax, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 2 weeks.


Laura said...

Wow! This sounds really tasty. Makes me really want to try home curing!

Leah said...

You should definitely give it a try, Laura! Let me know how it turns out.