I absolutely love fish, I could live on it for every meal without getting sick of it. I know it is definitely a food grouping that most people can’t handle much of, but I can’t get enough! Even though it may be an illusion at times, I always feel really nourished when I eat seafood. Whether I am wolfing down pounds of crab legs with lemon juice or going down the more healthful route of savoring sashimi with fresh ginger, I always enjoy the fresh flavors of seafood. Unfortunately, my wallet does not appreciate my expensive taste.
One of the meals that I have always enjoyed is a breakfast of smoked, pickled or cured fish. For those that are less adventurous, I will hold off on my extolment of herring in cream sauce and instead touch upon a more commonly accepted dish- Gravlax.
Gravlax is salmon that is lightly cured with salt, sugar, fresh herbs, spices and other additions if inspiration strikes. I rarely order Gravlax or even buy it from the grocery store because it is so expensive for the amount, so I have grown accustomed to this being a special treat. Not anymore, why buy a four-ounce container for gold dust when you can inexpensively and easily make your own at home! I know it may sound very ambitious, but trust me, the benefits of making your own Gravlax far outweigh perceived hassle of doing so.
The procedure goes as follows: Buy salmon. Get the highest quality product available. While this fish is going to be cured and thus preserved, it is still raw. There is not an unlimited shelf life to this dish so it should be consumed within a few days of completing the process. Rinse the fish and dry it. Next, line a rimmed dish with plastic wrap. Whatever you choose to put the fish in, be aware that liquid will accumulate so thee dish should have sides.
Now, create your cure. Sugar and salt are mandatory, I like to use a two to one brown sugar to salt ratio. Dill is also mandatory for Gravlax, use a few big bunches. Other additions can and should include peppercorns and coriander. If you so desire, other herbs or spices such as juniper berries or fennel seeds, or citrus zests will elevate the dish even more. Many people choose to add a few drops of liquor, such as vodka.
Take some of the cure and line the bottom of the dish, then rub half of the mixture on the fish. Place the fish skin side down and cover it with the remains of the cure. Wrap the fish entirely in plastic wrap and place in the fridge with something heavy on top. In my own NYC apartment experimentations, I placed a second baking dish on top of the salmon and then topped it with a housewarming six pack we had recently received.
Every twelve hours, flip the fish. Liquid will be drawn out from the combination of weight and salt on the fish, this is the point of curing. In two to three days, remove the fish, rinse and dry again, then thinly slice to serve. I recently attempted this project as a farewell meal when finishing up an internship and was ecstatic with the results! I recommend for all to try at one point in their lives, it’s delicious, economical, and very impressive for guests. Give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy those omega threes flowing through your veins.