Friday, October 28, 2005



A few days ago, while riffling through the icebox looking for something salty (its all about the salt with me kids. All about it. I swear, if I cut salt out of my diet, I would instantly be two sizes smaller) to nibble on, I spied a tragically lonely, single serving of wild caught Coho salmon calling out for some attention. Not being in the mood for sashimi, I cut short my quest for a nosh, and proceeded to pull together one of the worlds oldest preserved food recipes: gravlax. Sure, sure, it takes a few days to cure, but I have patience, and it is so very well worth the wait.

Now, as a long-time reader (ha ha) I'm sure you recall me saying this past summer I had found a recipe for Snapper Vera Cruz, the single most popular recipe taught at my cooking school. Turns out, I may have to revise that statement, since in the 18 months I spent at that fine academic institution we pretty much made gravlax once a week. That my peaches, is a heck of a lot of cured fish. Maybe they have an agenda I wasn't aware of...

Being obsessed (along with many other things - Pickles and cocktails come to mind) with Scandinavian food (My mother is partly Swedish after all. More on that some other time. It's fascinating stuff.) and what all, the consumption of vast quantities of this ambrosial (can you apply ambrosial to a savory food?) goodness has never been a problem for me. And the beauty is, you don't need much fish to feed quite a few people, you most likely have all the ingredients on hand, and it can be made in a heartbeat.

To serve it to the glitterati in your life in the most fab-ulicious kind of way, I suggest a slice of rye or pumpernickel bread, a thin layer of a 50/50 cream cheese-butter mixture, capers and pickled red onion. It is just the most beautiful combination of nearly translucent fish that has a hint of juniper, with the shockingly pink, crunchy onions and the creamy mouthfeel of the cheese. A mouthful of Valhalla. Try it, and enjoy

1 Salmon filet, skin on, bones removed, cut into 2 equal sized pieces
Equal parts white sugar and brown sugar
Salt equalling the sugar amount
Clear Spirits (I used gin. Aquavit or vodka are classic choices too)
Minced herbs (Dill is most traditional. I used Lemon Verbena because I had it)
Spices (I used cardamom. Try black pepper or cumin)
Freshly ground pepper

The recipe for this is pretty simple. Moisten the flesh of the fish with some of the spirit. (Wow, did that sound religious or what!) Top with minced herbs.

Combine the salt, sugars and pepper in a bowl.

In a non-reactive (meaning, glass or ceramic) dish, make a layer of the mix. Add the fish, skin down, coat heavily with more of the mixture. Top with another piece of fish skin side up, then pour the remaining mixture over it and pack down. Cover the container with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two to six days, turning once a day and draining any extra liquid. The time you leave it depends on how thick the filet is. To check it is done the fish will have turned completely opaque.

When done, brush off the sugar/salt mix. Slice as thin as can be and eat. Will keep up to a week.


The Food and Drug Administration sent letters last week to 29 cherry growers and packagers warning them that declarations such as Amon Orchards claim on its Web site that "cherries prevent cancer." Or Brownwood Acres Foods Inc., saying cherries "knock out gout," are "serious violations" of federal food labeling laws. - Washington

60 percent of the world's marine stocks are either fully fished, over-exploited, depleted or recovering at a slow rate. With seafood growing in demand, it is critical that sustainable fishing practices are followed. - Whole

A Swedish specialty, gravlax is raw salmon, cured in a salt-sugar-dill mixture. It's sliced paper thin and served on dark bread as an appetiser, often accompanied by dill-mustard sauce. Lox can refer either to cold smoked salmon, or to salmon cured in a brine solution (also called gravlax).

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Oh, gravlax! This great gift to the human beings! I usually make it one kilo of lax at a time and if you ever get tired of eating it with the dill/mustard sauce you can cut it in thick slices and grill it in a very hot pan just for a minute. Oh! Gravlax!
Sounds delicious. I am not sure I have ever eaten this, but I can tell I would love it. I'm also a salt freak. Love anything salty.
Kisses and hugs from two drunken broads in West Hollywood who think you're outrageously talented. We miss you. What should one watch while one is sipping martinis and watching Hitchcock on TCM.
Love, The McGee Gals in Weho xxxxx
Mmm, sounds good! I don't eat much gravlax myself, but my father makes a wonderful one!
McGees - I so love you guys. That question doesn't even make sense. LOL.

Anne - You should post his recipe! I would love to see someting authentic!

Clivia - I would never in a million have thought to grill it! That is now on my list.

Kalyn - You should try it! If you like smoked salmon, this is along the same lines. Rich and delicious. I only wish I had taken this picture with the mustard-dill sauce I made to go with it. What a dream...
Check this out! They called your gravlax shot "Food Porn" on Slash Food. Way awesome!
Thanks for guidance!
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