Interesting Approach to Gravlax

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RSteve

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From the Wiki: "Gravlax or grav(ad)laks is a Nordic dish consisting of salmon that is cured using salt, sugar, and dill. Gravlax is usually served as an appetizer, sliced thinly and accompanied by hovmästarsås (literally "maitre d'hôtel sauce", also known in Sweden as gravlaxsås, in Norway as sennepssaus, literally “mustard sauce”, and in Denmark as rævesovs, literally "fox sauce"), a dill and mustard sauce, either on bread or with boiled potatoes."

I'd wager that in my life I've made several hundred pounds of gravlax. I always have some in my freezer. At one sitting, my 4.5-year-old grandson will eat a quarter pound. I use the same curing process for salmon, steelhead trout, lake trout, and cod. I usually use salmon, unless I want to make a variety of traditional sushi and don't want to use "raw" rather than cured fish.
I just put some cod gravlax in my freezer after a slow four day curing. Just as an experiment, I used East Indian spices in combination with the salt/sugar curing mix. 50/50 salt/sugar with additions of granulated garlic, cayenne pepper, curry powder, turmeric, and garam masala. I think the taste and texture are interesting, but I'll be a better judge in a few days.
 

Timbo

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I'm a fan of Gravlax mate (mmmm salmon and dill) and your spice mixture, though not traditional, sounds awesome. I'm sure the Nords would've made it their tradition if they had easy access to such spices in the past.

I also smoke a fair bit of meat and love coming up with new spice rubs for meat. My favourite lazy one for chicken wings when I couldn't be arsed concocting a rub is plain old curry powder rubbed all over the wings. Use a decent curry powder and they are very moreish, I've no idea what curry powders are available in the states but I like to use Clive of India.
 

Blackhorse

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I wonder what a cure using Soy Sauce would produce? Long ago we started using Yamasa Soy Sauce as a fast marinade for beef, pork, Salmon and chicken...for grilling, roasting, pan frying...whatever. Is it really the most incredible stuff out there...or is it just us?

Pretty sure Yamasa (a 400 year old company) is brewed in Japan.

BTW: here’s the recipe for home made Teriyaki Sauce via Yamasa:

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce (makes 1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons Yamasa Regular Soy Sauce (or Organic Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce)
2 tablespoons white wine (or mirin)
1 tablespoon sugar (or honey if you would prefer)
A couple drops of grated fresh ginger root juice (optional)
Mix all ingredients well.

You’re welcome.
 

RSteve

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The subject of gravlax came up after a friend asked me for an "easy" recipe. Pre-pandemic, I'd often be invited to friends' homes for casual parties where it was assumed that all guests would contribute some food, wine, liquor, or cigars and any combination. Numbers varied, but there could be anywhere from 30 to 80 people coming in and out; sometimes over 100. Keep in mind that my immediate friendship group typically ranges in age between 60 and 80. Most have adult children who are also likely to attend. Here's a copy of the email I sent.
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I've sent the recipe and process to others several times and I scoured nine years of sent emails to retrieve a copy to no avail, so I'm starting at step one.
You'll need about 1/4 cup of any liquor, preferably vodka or gin. It functions as a catalyst in the curing. Keep the bottle nearby in case you need a bit more or you feel like having a shot or two.
I always buy two sides of salmon. Strangely, a cheaper grade of salmon, which tends to be less tender, makes a better gravlax, certainly easier to slice thinly.
If you can buy skinless and boneless, it makes the process much easier. I buy it at Costco or Sam's Club. If you can only access skin on, to remove the skin without much loss of flesh, remove the salmon from any packaging. With a very sharp knife, trim off the belly portion through the skin. From two sides of salmon, you'll have enough belly for a nice sauteed salmon meal. Take the body of each side and wrap it in plastic wrap as flat as possible. Freeze it hard as a proverbial rock.
Once the salmon is frozen, remove the wrapping, one fillet at a time, and for about one minute run hot tap water over the skin. (Yes, it sounds crazy.) Between the thick skin and the flesh, there's an easily dissolvable layer of fat. After about a minute under the hot tap water, the fat renders and you can slip a knife between the skin and the flesh. Once you're about an inch into the layer between the skin and flesh, you can grab the skin with your fingers and pull to the end of the frozen fish fillet, removing the skin without losing any flesh. You'll see remnant silver skin. It's thin, very thin, and with your razor sharp knife you can easily remove it to expose the flesh. That silver skin must be removed so the curing salt/sugar will do its job.
If you get skinless/boneless, just remove the thin belly portion for frying, etc. and be certain that the silver skin is removed.
Why remove the belly? When you're curing, the sides of salmon will be placed face to face. You want maximum contact. The belly will cause the thick sides to teeter on an angle.
Once the fish is prepped the process is simple.
Now, without skin and defrosted, you'll dry the fish on both sides with paper toweling.
Now to cure:
You may not need all the curing components. This is my recipe and I created it to expedite making enough gravlax for a large gathering.
What you may see on You Tube is usually to cure one fillet.

Begin with one cup of plain table salt and one cup of granulated sugar. Mix them thoroughly together.
I typically add two tablespoons of dried dill, one teaspoon of dried garlic, one teaspoon onion powder, one tablespoon dried basil, one teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper. On occasion, I'll grind enough juniper berries to fill one tablespoon. Some folks request hot gravlax, so I add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. None of the herbs do anything other than flavor. The salt/sugar and liquor do the curing. After you've made several hundred sides of gravlax, you'll decide what herbs and spices you want to use. I have cod gravlax currently curing in my fridge using salt/sugar, garam masala, turmeric, and paprika.

Process:
Lay out one side of skinned salmon on a large piece of plastic wrap, skinned side facing up. Brush generously with alcohol. Again, any alcohol will do, aquavit is traditional, gin gives an evergreen overtone, vodka is neutral. If you want the gravlax to be smokey, a peaty scotch works. I use the cheapest smokey blended scotch I can find, usually Teachers Highland Cream which is 45% Ardberg. Once the alcohol has been applied, cover the side with your salt/sugar/herb mixture. Use a 1/4 to a scant 1/2 cup per side. You want to see that every part of the side is covered, but not buried.
Turn the fillet over and repeat what you just did. Alcohol, then curing concoction.

Next: Elsewhere, flesh side up, not skin side up, repeat the process. When that side is complete, carefully place that fillet, flesh side to flesh side on top of the first fillet.

The second fillet's former skin side should be facing you, lying atop the first fillet. Again, booze and curing salts.

Hopefully, the sheet of plastic wrap you have under the two fillets is large enough to tightly wrap the fillets together. All four sides have been painted with alcohol and have curing salts applied.

Place on a platter and drape something like bags of dry beans over the entire salmon to add weight to push out the fish's fluids and push in the curing salts.

Into the fridge for three to four days, depending on the thickness of the fillets. You'll be able to see, even after one day, fluids in the plastic wrap.

During the curing period, in the morning and at night, you'll turn over the salmon package, to get even curing. After three days, you'll be able to feel that the salmon has firmed.

Three days have passed. You carefully unwrap and take a thin slice, rinse under cold water, and taste.
Is it gravlax or sashimi? If it's gravlax, carry everything over to the sink, unwrap and carefully run all sides of the fillet under cold running water. With your hands, brush off any seasonings stuck to the lox.

Dry each fillet, thoroughly. The magic is in the slicing. Wrap each fillet separately in plastic wrap and put into the freezer. Freeze until just semi-frozen. Decide how much of a fillet you want to use and remove it to slice. Freeze the rest for later use. Now, semi-frozen you can easily slice very thin with a serrated knife. As you slice, you want to see the knife under the slice. Again, this is to expedite slicing when I'm prepping gravlax trays for a large number of people. If you have the dexterity and a razor sharp knife you should be able to slice the lox with no firming in the freezer.

And that's it, unless I forgot something. It also works with large cod fillets, steelhead trout, lake trout, and even tuna.

Years ago, before it became endangered and super expensive, I'd make gravlax from sea bass. A few summers ago, a friend asked me if I'd cure two very large freshwater carp fillets that he'd caught in Lake Superior. He was going to cold smoke them after they were cured. The fillets were huge and I cured them for a week. I didn't taste the finished product of the curing nor did I sample them after smoking. He said it was delicious, but being carp, I declined to eat any.

Steve
 
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