Gravlax is salmon that is not cooked, but cured in salt, sugar and dill. This is a popular method of salmon preparation in all the countries of Scandinavia. Originally, the preparation of gravlax involved burying the fish for a short fermentation period, but thankfully that is no longer part of the process!
I was able to taste gravlax at the Scandinavian festival earlier this month, and wanted to try my hand at making it before the month was out. So immediately upon arriving back from my Christmas vacation, I started curing a small salmon fillet. Normally, this process would not be undertaken for such a small amount of fish – but there’s only so much I can eat, and the month is almost over! It became obvious during the slicing of the fish that a thicker fillet and a sharper knife would have worked better. The cured fish had become almost mushy and didn’t want to slice very well, but tasted delicious on my homemade pumpernickel bread, with fresh lemon and mustard sauce.
Combine the sugar, salt and peppercorns. Lay the frozen fillet on a piece of aluminum foil and sprinkle with the fresh dill. Then spread the dry sugar mixture all over the top. Wrap tightly with foil and place the packet in a glass dish in the fridge, topped with a weight. Press the fish in this way for 48 hours, turning occasionally. If preparing a larger volume of fish, you can sandwich the seasonings between two fillets with the skin to the outside.
Scrape off the seasonings and slice thinly on an angle. Serve on a piece of rye bread or flat cracker bread, with garnish of lemon slices and mustard-dill sauce.
Mix equal amounts of Dijon mustard and brown sugar until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste, and fresh dill.