Of all the culinary vices I have to look out for, I think the most insidious for me is the rut. I am so very much a creature of habit that it is easy all too easy for me to slip into the comfortable and familiar. Lamenting the salmon-related Tasty Rut is no new thing here at Om-nom Sauce (exhibit A, exhibit B), so here I give you one of my more off-the-beaten-path methods of preparing the eminently tasty fish, which makes for a striking presentation and delicious flavor.
The method of salt-curing the fish transforms an already gorgeous hue into an intense jewel for the eyes. It’s like you were viewing the fish on a monitor and then hiked the saturation slider all the way to the right. It looks absolutely nothing like, well, the salmon-colored crayon from your scribbling days (as heat-cooked salmon does). The flavor is concentrated and infused with all the goodness you cured it with — and for bonus points, experiment with different citrus zests to experience a completely different flavor profile.
We made this last year as the sockeye season was waning, the fish having largely finished their runs, so I deemed it too late to post this recipe for anyone to get any benefit of it. This year, however, things are in full swing, but I probably won’t get to partake since something tells me this is verboten in pregnancy. So I hope you get a chance to indulge in this and break out of your own salmon rut!
Home-Cured Salmon Gravlax
Adapted from The Crepes of Wrath
Fresh Copper River Salmon cured in a brine of sugar, salt, fresh dill, and citrus zest.
You will need:
- For the cure:
- 1 1-pound very fresh fillet of salmon, preferably sockeye/red or chinook/king, skin on
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup kosher salt
- 1 large bunch dill, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
- To serve
- Bagels, crusty baguette slices, good crackers, or some other bread-like vehicle
- Cream cheese or creme fraiche (omit for dairy-free)
- Capers, drained and rinsed
- Red onion, thinly sliced
- Lemon slices
- Place your salmon, skin side down, on a large piece of plastic wrap. Combine the sugar, salt, dill, and zest, then press it down onto the salmon, using all of it. Tightly wrap the salmon in the plastic wrap, then refrigerate for 48 hours.
- When ready, unwrap the salmon, rinse off the brine well, and pat dry. Slice the gravlax thinly straight across the top (not through to the skin, but thinly on top until you reach the skin) and separate from the skin. Serve immediately with bagels, crusty baguettes, or good bread and top with cream cheese or creme fraiche, capers, and thinly-sliced red onion and a squeeze of lemon if you like, or wrap in plastic wrap to use for up two 3 days.