Every once in awhile the web can be the starting point for what becomes the most amazing outcomes! So I guess I should thank the “world wide interweb” for giving us the starting point for this absolutely show stopping masterpiece of culinary art!!
For this recipe, think fresh, think simple, think decadent. The ONE thing that you must remember though is not to waste your time with an inferior piece of salmon. This recipe is not going to have the desired result unless you use the best quality piece of fish that you can find. In my opinion (yours may differ, but I will only back the outcome of this recipe if our opinions match), a FRESH (never frozen) piece of WILD CAUGHT Salmon is the only choice for this dish. While perfectly fine for a cooked salmon dish, the texture of previously frozen salmon changes, and in a CURED dish this will not be pleasing. In the debate between wild caught and farm raised I realize many people have all kinds of ethical arguments to indulge. I am not the type to argue. I will say however that farm raised fish, in my experience is quite a bit more pale unless colorings have been added (which has become a standard practice), and the texture of the flesh is often softer, spongier and less appealing. My father would surely tell you that it has to do with the temperature of the water, once that salmon has access to the big wide cold ocean (unlike the farmed varieties) it produces a firmer more robust fish. (I’m sure that as a child that was why I was told to “just buck up” anytime there was something difficult to accomplish!! lol).
Ok, that’s enough of a rant on which salmon is the best salmon, because lets be honest, in the end….. salmon is divine!!! So, here’s the promised recipe:
Beetroot Cured Salmon (Gravlax)
2.50 lb(s), Salmon (raw)
1/2 cup(s) White Granulated Sugar
1/3 cup(s) Coarse Kosher Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper (Ground)
3 Beet Roots (medium size) Shredded
1 Bunch of Fresh Dill Chopped Coarse
Zest of one Orange
Prep Time: 30 min plus 48 hours cure
Yield: approx 10, 3oz portions
Start with the best ingredients you can get your hands on.
Wild salmon… Farmed if you must… but NEVER previously frozen.
Have your fishmonger skin and bone the filet if you can. The recipe works with the skin on, but you will get a much better result if it has been removed. Wash and pat dry with paper towels, set aside on a plate in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Combine the sugar, orange zest, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
Wash and grate the beets. If you have a food processor this works well, if not, wear some gloves (or be prepared to have red fingers) A coarse cheese grater will do the trick.
Wash and coarsely chop the dill. I also “bruise” mine a little just before I chop it; you can use the back of your kitchen knife, or a meat mallet. This will help the flavors come out! Don’t overdue it though.
Next, you’ll need a rectangular cake/lasagna pan, or casserole dish. Something with sides about 2 inches high and large enough to lay the fillet in flat.
Now take the fillet, and spread the sugar/salt mixture on all sides, pat it on, but don’t damage the flesh. Now make sure the filet is coated and laying flat in the pan. Spread the chopped dill on next. And finally on goes the grated beets.
Cover this with plastic wrap, and use another pan just slightly smaller than the one with all that salmon goodness in it. Or you can use a small cutting board or cheese board. The point here is to weight it down, to help the juices squeeze out of the beets and dill. I used a small cooking tray from an old toaster oven I used to have, and then sat a couple mason jars filled with water on top.
Place this in your fridge, flat on a shelf, where it wont be disturbed, and where it’s the coldest, ideally the bottom shelf!
After 48 hours you can take it out of the fridge. Carefully remove the top layer of beetroot/dill, and you should see the most beautiful Ruby Red salmon fillet you’ve ever seen! If there is a lot of liquid in the pan, don’t be alarmed; just be careful not to spill it as it will stain everything!
Remove this filet and rinse it under a gentle stream of cold running water. Wash off all the loose bits and place it on a cutting board.
With a VERY sharp thin blade knife, (like a fillet knife or carving knife) you are now ready to slice on the diagonal and against the grain of the meat. You should get beautiful thin slices that you can now serve as it is ready to devour!
On a cracker with a dollop of crème fraiche, on a bed of greens… all by itself garnished with Meyer lemon wedges and fresh dill… however you can imagine serving it… but trust me, if you love salmon, this will be a little piece of heaven!
Duane & Todd