Juniper Cured Gravalax
Easter is just around the corner and I have just the thing for you to cook (or should I say cure) to enjoy over the weekend if you're entertaining. Curing salmon might seem a little daunting but my dear friend Lizzie has the easiest recipe- and boy is it delicious. You know I'm quite a visual person and bringing this dish out over the Easter long weekend will make everyone go WOW- I promise!
Now I know there is a lot of sugar and salt in this recipe which isn't usually my thing, but this helps cure the salmon and most of it gets scrapped off at the end anyway. Curing salmon is an ancient method of preserving, it's how the Vikings preserved their fish when they went out on hunting trips but instead of weights and a refrigerator, they buried their salmon under a metre of sand.
I'm a little bit excited by this recipe, so let's get to it!
INGREDIENTS & TOOLS
Kitchen weights such as bricks wrapped in foil or food cans, large deep-sided tray, plastic wrap
1 x 1 kg salmon fillet, skin on, trimmed and pin-boned
300 g rock salt
100 white sugar
2 bunches of dill, finely chopped
1 lemon, zested
1 tablespoon juniper berries
¼ cup gin
To serve try creme fraiche, picked red onions or dill cucumbers, lemon and rye bread. Or whatever you fancy!
HOW IT'S DONE
Definitely get your fishmonger to prepare your salmon fillet. You'll thank him when you get home.
Combine salt, sugar, dill, lemon zest, juniper berries and gin in a bowl. Mix until you have a wet sand consistency.
Lay 2 pieces of plastic wrap, long enough to wrap your salmon, out on your bench. You will need to slightly overlap these. Spread half the salt mixture out and place salmon, skin side down on top. Cover salmon with remaining salt mixture. You want your salmon to be completely covered with the salt mixture, just like a salt crust. Wrap your salmon tightly up in the plastic wrap and then place in a deep-sided tray. The salmon will leak out a lot of moisture so keep this in mind. It will look like green oil.
Cover deep-sided tray with another layer of plastic wrap. Top salmon with weights such as foil wrapped bricks or food cans. I sometimes wrap a 2L bottle of milk in foil to weight on top. Whatever you have that will sit and apply weight on the salmon.
Refrigerate for 24 hours and then remove weights, turn salmon over, replace weights and refrigerator for another 24 hours.
To serve, unwrap your gravlax and wipe all the salt mixture off. Pat dry with a kitchen towel.
You can leave the skin on or remove it by placing the fish skin side down, start at the tail end, cut into the fillet and then tilt your knife and run it under the skin, separating it from the fillet.
Thinly slice your salmon and serve with pickled onions or dill cucumbers, sour cream and rye bread.
Have a happy, safe and relaxing Easter!
Recipe by Elizabeth Hewson, Photography by Phu Tang, Styling by Gemma Lush