I recently wrote about my sister’s wedding I catered in Norway. (You can read about that HERE) Ever since then I’ve been asked for the recipes. I haven’t gotten back to them because… ok, confession time… I never wrote recipes down when I cooked back then. There’s hundred’s of dishes lost to time because of my negligence. The folly of youth! Sigh. Not all is lost because I've made improvements! I mean, just look at what I made for my sisters wedding compared to now. (Sorry Megan and Gunhild)
A week before Christmas my Mom, Dad, Brother-in-law, and Sister went to St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, ON. It's a family tradition to go get specialty cheeses for our Christmas morning breakfast. Every year it has grown and has now reached epic proportions. While I was at the market I saw booth after booths offering beautiful fillets of salmon and couldn’t resist the temptation to get one. Christmas was still a week away and I knew I had enough time (it only takes a few days) to make gravlax. I was also looking for an excuse to make it and I had one. Gravlax and Christmas are special and it seemed appropriate to finally unleash the recipe to the world. I'm glad I made it because it was stunning on our christmas morning buffet. By the way, I know it's weird to eat fish for breakfast but Christmas is different, at least in our household. AND for those of you who are reading this and are judging me I simply deflect your criticism onto my brother-in-law who put pickled herring for “everyone” to enjoy. Cringe. Eww. Gross.
Salmon Gravlax, historically, was made by curing the salmon in sugar, salt and dill. As the fish curedthe moisture in the fish would release turning the dry rub into a brine. For the nordic people, who first made it, curing was a delicious way to extend the shelf life of something that would otherwise easily go bad. Oh, and survive long, cold, winter months. Again, cringe, ewww, gross. The dish, like all dishes, has evolved over time and now can be seasoned with, well, anything that tastes good. For me this meant substituting granulated cane sugar for maple syrup, dill for whiskey, and added raw beets to die the salmon beautifully pink.
Curing meets always sounds difficult and can generate a certain level of anxiety. I can understand if you are fearful, because no one wants to give themselves or their loved ones food poisoning. In truth, whenever we cook we are at risk of giving ourselves, friends and family food poisoning regardless of whats on the menu. My only reassurance I can give you if you are hesitant too try this dish is that I made this for sixty people and we all made it out alive. Heck, all you need to do is use the freshest and best quality ingredients and courage. If you do you’ll be on your way new curing heights you’ve never imagined! :)
Maple Whisky and Salmon Gravlax
1 Half Fillet of Salmon
1 Half Beet Thinly Sliced
2 Tablespoons Course Sea Salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons Course Cracked Black Pepper
1/2 Teaspoons Dried Dill
1 Ounce of Maple Syrup
1 1/2 Ounces of Maple Whiskey
10x8 Glass baking pan
In a medium sized mixing bowl mix salt, pepper, dill, maple syrup and maple whiskey until combined. Set aside.
Prepare the salmon for curing. Ensure that pin bones have been removed. To do this simply rub your fingers gently over the fillet against the grain. If there are pin bones remove with kitchen tweezers. Rinse the fillet under cold water and dry with paper towel.
In a 8x10 glass dish lined with plastic wrap place fish skin side down. Make sure you have enough plastic wrap to cover the fish once you pour the brine mixture over the fish. Place sliced beets on top and wrap. Place a piece of wood that is the size of fish on top and place a a large soup can on top and place in the fridge 3-4 days.
To serve the gravlax remove from the brine mixture and gently scrap excess pepper, dill, and beets off. Pat dry with paper towel and thinly cut against the grain on a 45 degree angle. Serve slices of the Maple Whiskey and Beet gravlax with mild soft cheese, dark rye bread and freshly chopped chives.