For my birthday, I really wanted to make some gravlax. It's Nordic cured salmon, meaning that it is eaten raw, but it undergoes a process that changes it from plain old raw salmon into something special, and akin to lox. This pregnancy, I've been very nauseous from so many foods, and therefore when it comes to protein, been stuck pretty much with just legumes, meat, and chicken, and I really wanted to change things up. Plain cooked fish makes me nauseous, but raw fish, for some strange reason, does not.
I saw a friend posted a picture of her homemade gravlax, and it made me salivate, so I said I just "have" to make that. And since I am not in the habit of just buying and making expensive things "just because", I decided to wait until my birthday to have that, a little birthday present of sorts to myself.
So, I made it once, and it was delicious, and I posted pictures of it on facebook. And everyone wanted to know the recipe, if it was on my blog, etc... And I said "No way! This isn't frugal!" but they told me to compare the cost of the gravlax to its store bought similar counterpart- smoked salmon, aka lox, and see if it is still "unfrugal".
Well, making it from high quality, sushi grade salmon, it works out a little more expensive than store bought lox. But then I learned that because of the curing process that the salmon goes through when making gravlax, it is perfectly safe to use non sushi grade salmon for this, making it even cheaper, and therefore cheaper than lox. It still isn't a cheap dish, but if you're craving a lox type dish, this is definitely cheaper, not to mention healthier.
But still, I didn't have the recipe- just guestimated amounts the first time I made it, and wasn't planning on making it again just to share the recipe with you, since, even though it is cheaper than lox, it is still more expensive than not making it at all...
Then my friend who was craving gravlax after seeing the pics that I posted, asked me to make some for her that she'd buy off me... and so I had another excuse to make gravlax, and this time I measured everything so I could share the recipe with you.
It seriously was delicious! The taste of gravlax is a cross between lox and sashimi. I didn't make mine so salty, but if you like things salty, you can increase the salt in this recipe by adding another tablespoon or two. I also made mine with coconut sugar to keep it healthier, but feel free to replace that coconut sugar with sucanat or white sugar or xylitol or any other granulated sweetener, whatever floats your boat in terms of health or cost.
300 grams salmon fillet
1/4 cup coconut sugar
2 tablespoons coarse salt
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh dill
A few turns freshly ground pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons vodka or aquavit
1. Start off with your chunk of salmon. You can make this either with salmon that still has its skin on, or with skin taken off.
2. Mix your salt and sugar and spread all over your salmon, ensuring that all surfaces are covered.
3. Take your chopped dill and spread it over your salmon fillet. If using black pepper, sprinkle it on now as well.
4. Pour vodka over the salmon.
5. Wrap the salmon tightly in a cheese cloth, thin towel, or cloth napkin.
6. Wrap the wrapped salmon in plastic wrap, so you have a tight little bundle.
7. Put this bundle on a plate or in a container in the refrigerator. It WILL leak out of the package, even if you think it won't, so take precautions....
8. Every 12 hours, flip over the bundle. This allows it to fully cure on both sides evenly.
9. If using sushi grade salmon, you can eat this whenever you want, even after 12-24 hours. If using non sushi grade salmon, wait 3 days to eat.
10. To eat, remove the plastic, and then the cloth.
11. Rinse off the salmon very well. Trust me, don't skip this step...
12. If you used salmon with the skin, carefully remove the skin, making sure to not remove too much of the flesh together with the skin.
13. Slice the salmon very, very, very thinly with a sharp knife.
13. Serve as you would lox. I served this one time on my homemade gluten free pumpernickel bread, together with a homemade vegan cream cheese, cucumber slices, and fresh dill. Another time, I put it in rice paper wraps with lettuce, cucumbers, and alfalfa sprouts. It was out of this world. And worth every cent. A great birthday treat for myself.
Have you ever eaten or made gravlax before? If so, how did you make it, and how was it served? Does this look like a recipe you'd try, or too expensive and out of the budget, even for a special occasion?