I have been meaning to post the recipe for Gin and Blueberry Salmon Gravlax for a few months now. But life has a way of impeding progress, especially when you get sick. March was not kind to me. After a trip to the hospital and a bout of stomach flu, I did not have much time to write. On top of that, there was March break, which was madness. I work with foster kids and since they were out of school I was able to work with them during the day instead of the evenings. I ended up working way more than I should have, but they needed the support and I needed some extra cash. It worked out for everyone, I’d say.
I created this recipe for a friend’s dinner party back in January. I had just made Maple Whisky and Beet Salmon Gravlax with success, so I knew that I wanted to make another gravlax dish. The problem was I lacked inspiration. If you live in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), you know how depressing this past winter was. The only thing winter about it was the cold. There was hardly any snow and everything was shades of grey and brown. The only thing that redeemed this winter for me was my proximity to the Oshawa creek. The forest that surrounds it is mostly made of pine and cedar trees and I, more than most years, appreciated their evergreen. Every time I walked through or drove by I was reminded of better seasons. In the fall I would get up early every day to walk my dog just to watch the salmon spawn. If you have never seen salmon spawn in the early morning, it is one of the most peaceful and relaxing things I have experienced. Anyway, as I was leaving for work one day, I remembered this past fall’s walks and I realized what I was going to do for the dinner party.
What does everyone think of when they think of salmon spawning? Bears, everyone thinks of bears, and if you don’t, you need to watch more animal documentaries, like this one. (You’re welcome)
So with bears on my mind, I started to think about what bears eat that would go well with salmon. Honey? Yes, but not this time. Deer? mmmm venison, but no. Berries? Of course! Berries would be perfect! The bear led me to the forest and the forest was going to be my inspiration.
Everyone knows that gin tastes like juiced Christmas trees so it seemed reasonable to me that would be my tree component. Blueberries represented the forest’s abundance and the salmon, which returns to the forest streams where they hatch, represented deliciousness. I’m glad the idea finally came together because it turned out exceptionally well. The ingredients complimented each other and the blueberries died the salmon a beautiful purple. I honestly could not have been happier with the result.
I served the gravlax with crème fraiche (a fresh soft cheese you can easily make at home) and a simple watercress salad. Alternatively, it would go well with dark rye bread and a sprig of fresh dill.
Gin and Blueberry Salmon Gravlax
1/2 of 1 Salmon Fillet (thick side of fillet with skin on)
2 Tablespoons Course Sea Salt
1 Tablespoon Freshly Cracked Pepper
1 1/2 Shots of Gin
1 Package of Blue Berries Crushed (170g)
2 Dried Juniper Berries, Crushed.
1 1/2 Tablespoons of Sugar
In a Glass baking sheet place Salmon fillet skin side down. In a small mixing bowl mix together salt, sugar, black pepper and crushed juniper berries. Rub this mixture all over the fillet, skin included. Put the crushed blueberries on top of the fillet and pour the gin on top. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to cure for at least 2 days. I let mine cure for 5 days. Take the fish out and gently scrape the blueberry pulp and salt/sugar/spice mixture off. Slice thinly and serve.