Total Project Time: 3 days
Back in the olden days in Scandinavia, salmon was cured and buried to ferment, then served as gravlax, literally translated as "buried (from the grave) salmon".
Today, the salmon is simply cured, with dill, lemon, pepper, and caraway highlighting the spice array. Sometimes it served as-is; others prefer it cold-smoked, where it is referred to as Nova lox, or just plain 'ol lox.
The only place this salmon is going to be buried is in your belly.
2. Procure Equipment
The day or multiple days before the event, procure the following equipment:
• Tweezers or needle-nose pliers
• Cutting board
• Chef's Knife
• Non-reactive baking sheets
• Butcher Paper or sealable plastic freezer bags
Ensure the non-reactive baking sheets have a rimmed edge to catch the liquid that the salmon will shed during the curing process.
3. Buy Ingredients
The day before the event, purchase the following ingredients:
• 2 2lb. salmon filets, preferably wild caught Alaskan coho
• ½ cup aquavit
• 2 cups Kosher Salt
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 2 tbsp. white peppercorns
• 2 tbsp. black peppercorns
• 2 lemons
• 1 ½ cups chopped dill
Pulverize the white peppercorns and black peppercorns in a Spice Grinder. Zest 2 lemons. Chop enough dill to measure 1 cup.
Mix together the peppercorns, salt, sugar, and lemon zest in a small mixing bowl. Place the dill in a separate container.
5. Remove the Pin Bones
Using sanitized tweezers or pliers, remove the pin bones from the salmon.
6. Score == Aquavit!
Score the skin of the salmon.
Pour aquavit over both sides of the salmon, and rub the liquid around the fish to ensure it is covered with the liquid.
7. Cure the Salmon
Place a cheesecloth over a large non-reactive baking sheet. Sprinkle ½ cup chopped dill over the cheesecloth. Sprinkle half of the spice mixture over the dill. Place the salmon skin-side down on the salt mixture.
Sprinkle the remaining spice mixture over the salmon. Cover the salmon with ½ cup chopped dill. Cover the top of the salmon with cheesecloth.
8. Compression Session
Place a baking sheet over top the salmon. Place a 6 to 8 pound weight, such as a heavy pot or 2 bricks wrapped in plastic wrap, on the baking sheet, in order to weigh the salmon down and compress the meat.
Label the dish Salmon: Cure until May 21, 2013.
9. Rinse and Coat
2 days later, remove the salmon from the fridge and unwrap it. Scrape off the curing spices.
Run water over the salmon to rinse off the spices. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels.
Chop enough dill to measure ½ cup. Sprinkle ½ chopped dill over top the salmon.
Cut the Gravlax into storeable pieces.
Wrap the Gravlax in Butcher Paper or plastic wrap. Label the packages with a Sharpie Gravlax: Made May 19, 2013.
The Gravlax will keep in the fridge for about 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Slice thinly and serve on a toasted bagel with cream cheese, capers and dill, in an omellette, or with roasted potatoes.